Clean a five-gallon water container by washing, sanitizing and drying. The process requires just a few minutes, but air-drying to prevent bacterial growth takes overnight. With proper care and cleaning of the bottle, most tap water remains in good condition for up to 90 days.
- Wash with baking soda
Mix one-half cup of baking soda with a gallon of water. Use the solution to rinse the empty container several times.
- Sanitize with bleach
Kill any remaining bacteria in the container by adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach to the container. Replace the cap, and turn the container so the bleach contacts all surfaces. Leave the bleach in the bottle for 15 minutes. Rinse the container with tap water until the bleach smell is gone. Three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide in the bottle provides an alternative to bleach, but requires a one-hour soak time before rinsing.
- Dry and store in a clean area
When refilling bottles after washing and sanitizing, no drying is necessary. For bottles that are stored empty, allow them to drain and air dry overnight to prevent bacterial growth during storage. Place the cap on the bottle before storage to prevent contamination. Empty and rewash filled water bottles every three months.