This self-cleaning water bottle is keeping me hydrated at home

It's definitely a splurge, but it's been worth every penny.

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By Daniel Boan

We know water is basically everything. It keeps us hydrated, which in turn can lead to better skin and a better metabolism. I'm not great about exercising and I probably don't eat as well as I should, but I try to offset it by remaining as hydrated as possible.

Because of this, I typically have a giant water bottle at my side to remind me to drink as much water as possible. Unfortunately, I'm pretty bad about regularly cleaning these bottles. I've been known to accidentally leave them in my office or messenger bag for long periods of time, and I've thrown away many bottles due to that stale, musty odor that comes from leaving them unattended for too long.

A few months ago, I heard about the concept of self-cleaning water bottles. I know what you're thinking: Wow, who is that lazy? It's me — I'm that lazy. After hearing a positive review from a co-worker, I decided it was time to pick one up in the hopes that I'd never have to buy another water bottle again.

The Larq Bottle

It's helping me be my best lazy self

The bottle's cap disperses UV-C light from a bulb at the top, which is meant to kill odor-causing bacteria and help clean the water inside the bottle. You can activate a one-minute cleaning cycle by tapping the button on the cap or a three-minute cycle by pressing twice (the brand recommends giving it a good shake to evenly disperse the UV-C light). Every two hours, the bottle will self-clean for 10 seconds in an effort to keep the inside as free of bacteria as possible. You do have to charge the bottle's cap, but a single charge should last you for two weeks.

I've been using the Larq bottle for about two months now, and so far I'm extremely impressed. I let it sit for about five days without washing the inside and it smells just as clean as the first day I opened it. I especially love it now that I'm working from home and can feel slightly better about drinking tap water when I forget to fill up my Brita pitcher. I can't verify that it actually purifies the water on the inside, but it certainly keeps it cold for many hours and always tastes crisp and clean.

What is UV-C?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, UV lights can be an effective method for disinfecting water. UV-C light essentially works by damaging bacteria to the point where it can no longer grow.

"UV light works because it damages the DNA of bacteria and the DNA or RNA of viruses,” Donald Schaffner, extension specialist in food science and professor at Rutgers University, told Shop TODAY. “If you damage the DNA of the bacteria it dies, and if you damage the nucleic acid of the virus enough it cannot infect.”

According to a study conducted by Larq and Harrens Lab, the Larq bottle was effective at killing 99.9999% of E. coli when using the three-minute sanitation cycle.

Michael Schmidt, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina, thinks the light probably works best when the bottle is empty.

"UV-C will certainly inactivate the majority of bacteria and viruses, inside the bottle," he told us. "My suspicion is that it will be most effective empty rather than full."

However, microbiologist Jason Tetro has some hesitations about the device, especially when it comes to cleanliness.

"Cleaning means that you’re removing contaminants," Tetro said. "The UV kills but doesn’t remove, so you’re not achieving any kind of cleaning. To have that, you need manual washing and rinsing."

In order for water to be truly "pure," Tetro says this is only achieved by "boiling, distilling, and then sending it through a filter that has pores smaller than 8 millionths of an inch wide." He adds that the water inside the Larq is probably safe after a UV-C light cycle, but not necessarily "pure."

Would I recommend it?

Though the experts I spoke to aren't necessarily wowed by the technology, I've found it to be a worthy purchase. I still try to clean my bottle as much as possible, and I'm keeping Tetro's advice about cleanliness in mind. It feels good to know that the UV-C light is potentially killing any bacteria in the bottle and making it a less friendly breeding ground for germs, but I'm still being diligent to rinse and clean as much as possible.

So basically, the Larq has been worth it for some added peace of mind during the weeks when my lazy side takes over. Which, honestly, has been seven of the eight weeks I've had it so far.

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