Woman drinking water from water bottle
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
January 5, 2024 ·  4 min read

Woman’s Water Bottle Was ‘Poisoning’ Her For Weeks: Are You Making The Same Mistake?

In a quest to do away with plastics, companies have come out with reusable options such as glass, stainless steel, and silicone. However, one woman has recently gone viral after suffering from several health concerns that have since been linked to her use of a reusable water bottle. 

In mid-December 2023, a 19-year-old by the name of Kae on TikTok shared her terrifying experience with a series of mystery illnesses that she kept facing. The video, which has gotten over 3 million views, explains a series of problems the woman from Georgia experienced. In August of that year, she found herself in Urgent Care with Bronchitis. After treatment, she recovered and thought nothing of the cause. 

Water Bottle to Blame

However, she soon became sick again, and this time with a sinus infection as well. Next, she had a sore throat, “the worst she’s ever had in her life,” according to her TikTok video. By the time it was discovered that the culprit was her water bottle, she’d already been to urgent care four times in a matter of only a few months. 

Interestingly, the culprit wasn’t anyone’s first thought regarding the cause of her health issues. Yet, she soon discovered the problem and urged others to clean their reusable water bottle properly. 

Woman holding water bottle
Photo Credit: KaeBrie | TikTok

It turns out, that after admittedly not cleaning her water bottle as often as she should, she discovered that was the reason for her illnesses. 

Read: Study Finds Water on Airplanes Could be Making You Sick

Sharing Wisdom with Others

She shared that one day she decided to clean her reusable water bottle and while taking it apart found that the silicone stopper had become riddled with mold. 

She quickly threw it away and ordered a new one, disclosing that she hadn’t had the same issues since. 

Although it’s alarming to know that a reusable water bottle can cause health concerns, there’s some good news. Properly cleaning the materials can help prevent the same health concerns that Kae experienced and shared to TikTok. 

Woman with silicone stopper
Photo Credit: KaeBrie | TikTok

It’s advised to clean it daily to avoid any bacteria buildup. Moreover, a deep cleaning once in a while is also highly recommended. Fortunately, a good clean is easy to accomplish with the use of with the correct tools. 

Read: Mom Dies from Water Toxicity After Drinking Too Much Water

Experts Explain Cleanliness

On a regular basis, dish soap and water work well to keep a reusable water bottle in good, clean working condition. Alternatively, baking soda and vinegar have also been shown to do a great job of removing bacteria and grime while offering a more natural alternative to bleach or dish soap. 

Yet, there are also non-chlorinated bleach products that have powerful effects in removing bacteria buildup. 

Experts warn that although cleaning products are essential, the tools are equally important. A bottle brush is a great way to clean all the crevices. A straw brush is also recommended for a reusable water bottle with a reusable straw. 

Woman smiling in a car
Photo Credit: KaeBrie | TikTok

Many people may wonder why it’s so important to keep a reusable water bottle clean so well, after all it’s just water. In contrast, water does contain some bacteria, but the bigger culprit for causing buildup is most likely saliva. Our mouths are full of bacteria, both good and bad. Either way, the bacteria can become trapped inside straws, silicone stoppers, or the water bottle itself. Because bacteria grow rapidly in moist and dark environments, it’s an ideal breeding ground that can lead to mold. 

Water Bottle Cleaning Tools

While proper cleaning is important, experts warn another factor may also play a role in ensuring a clean water bottle. Reportedly, it’s also highly recommended not to fill up the bottle with hot drinking water that comes from the tap as water heaters contain alarming amounts of bacteria, and the heat can also cause plastic straws to deteriorate. Storage of a water bottle in a dry, clean place like a cabinet or a pantry will also help minimize the risk of bacterial buildup. 

Lastly, it’s also important to remember to take apart the water bottle and clean each piece individually. A helpful hint may also be to note whether it is dishwasher safe because that’s also a great way to clean dishes and remove possibly harmful bacteria. 

Removing the use of plastics from society is essential to keep a healthy balance in our ecosystem. However, it will also likely come with some trial and error. Fortunately, Kae figured out quickly what the cause of her health problems had been, learned to clean her water bottle properly, then shared her experience and knowledge with the general public, preventing others from suffering from the same health concerns. 

Keep Reading: There Is No Excuse for You to Casually Drink Bottled Water


  1. How to Clean a Water Bottle to Prevent Germs, Mold, and Buildup.BHG. Hannah Bruneman. June 5, 2023.
  2. Your emotional support water bottle needs a little TLC — here’s how to clean it.TODAY. Katelyn Chef. August 4, 2023.
  3. My water bottle landed me in the ER — it was ‘poisoning’ me for weeks.NY Post. Alexandra Klausner. December 19, 2023.