You finish a workout or walk inside on a hot summer day. You go to take a drink but notice a smell and some black substance in the water.
It’s possible you are seeing mold. This guide will explain all about mold in water, how it grows and the consequences of consuming it.
Mold needs 3 things to live: oxygen, water or food. Mold Can definitely grow in water.
If any of the above items are present, then mold can not only grow but spread quickly. Spores can travel a long distance, too.
What Happens If You Drink Moldy Water?
Higher levels of oxygen or organic nutrients can increase mold growth in your water supply. While many types of mold are not harmful, a common kind that often appears in water is black mold and this is toxic.
Also, mold holds bacteria and chemicals, making it more dangerous.
Water in a bottle that isn’t cleaned daily can increase the chances of mold developing. It can take about 5 days for mold to grow but if the water has any additives, mold can be present even after 2 days.
Here is what could happen if you drink moldy water and signs that it exists.
There are a number of ailments you can develop if you consume mold. Common ones include respiratory problems, coughing, skin irritation, congestion, cramps and nausea.
Everyone reacts differently and it’s tough to know how exposure will affect an individual. People prone to allergies might experience more symptoms too if they drink moldy water.
Another overall problem is that there’s no way to tell what type of mold gets into the water or in your water bottle. It might be a kind that won’t do much harm but it also could be the more dangerous black mold.
Be careful with black mold. Prolonged exposure can cause memory loss, other cognitive issues and emotional problems.
Consuming a little bit likely won’t cause harm or sickness but in general you don’t want to ingest any. If you notice a smell or black substance in your water or water bottle, take the necessary steps to clean it.
Mold in Pipes/Water Supply Line
If your water smells musty, you notice a black substance appearing when your run the faucet or there’s a lot of mold around your shower, there could be mold in your pipes. All it could take is a high oxygen level or increase in particles.
For example, minerals inside the pipes can be a food source for mold to grow.
Given that pipes are wet and dark, this makes it another popular place for mold.
Should mold get into your pipes, you want to flush them. You can do this by putting vinegar or another cleaning solution into your main water line, waiting an hour and then turning on all your faucets one by one for a few minutes.
Signs That There Is Mold In Water
The first thing you’ll likely notice is a sour or musty smell. You’re more likely to smell mold before seeing it.
If you smell it, look to see if it is visible. At first, it won’t be since mold starts out as tiny microorganisms.
But once it spreads, a black substance develops that can be spotted. These are mold spores growing together.
A ring might develop at the bottom of the cup or around the water that should be easy to see.
Once it’s present, it can grow and spread within 2 days.
At this point, you want to dump the water out and clean the container with soap and water. If the cup is microwave safe, you can put water in it and run the microwave until the water boils to kill the mold.
While drinking this water shouldn’t do too much harm, you still want to be careful. Since there’s no way to tell the type of mold, it’s uncertain if you’ll develop symptoms.
These could include:
- Allergic reactions
- Sore throat
- Watery eyes
Mold in other places of your home could be an indication that it is present in your drinking water, too.
Be on the lookout for these signs:
- Lots of mold in your shower
- Mold around your toilet (will look similar to dirt)
- Mold in basement/crawl space
- Mold in or around pipes
- Any areas with high humidity
- Leaks from roof or ceiling
Remember the most important actions to take should you spot mold in your water are to spill it out and clean the container.
In Water Bottle
A sealed, dark place makes a water bottle the perfect place for mold to grow. If you go a few days without cleaning it, this increases the chances mold will develop.
You might smell it first. As it grows, you’ll see a buildup of black spores.
While they may not be harmful, it’s better to play it safe, get rid of the water and thoroughly clean the bottle.
If the water bottle can go in the microwave, fill with water and do that to kill the mold. Washing it with soap and water or vinegar and water should get rid of the mold too.
Additionally, you can soak the water bottle overnight in whichever cleaning substance you use.
The best practice is to rinse and clean the bottle every couple of times you use it rather than going a week without doing so. This will help prevent mold from developing and keep you from ingesting anything dangerous.
The more often you clean it after using, the better chance you have to keep mold out.
Besides protecting against mold, cleaning the bottle will protect it against bacteria that develops from your mouth touching the spout.
While it’s not too common, consuming water from a bottle with mold can lead to illness. That’s why if you notice mold, take the necessary steps to clean it.
Most Common Causes Of Mold Growth In Water
There are various causes of mold growth in water depending on the source.
Mold in Tap Water
Mold can originate in tap water if there is moisture around the water line or leaks in the pipes. Any place with moisture makes it suitable for mold.
Sometimes pipes get small holes in them and outside air, particles or bacteria can enter this way. Mold will also develop where a flood has occurred, so if a pipe burst or water entered the basement because of torrential rain, mold can get into your tap water.
Other causes of mold in tap water include:
- Dark environment
- Mold present in other areas of home: showers, toilets, walls, ceilings
If you run your tap water and notice a musty smell, foul taste or black spots, these are indications of mold.
Mold in Well Water
The dark area a well creates makes it susceptible to mold. Additionally, problems related to the well such as a damaged or loose cap can cause mold to enter and get into the water.
This would happen because nutrients, organic materials and spores can all get through the cap and into the well water. Mold needs any of these to grow.
In fact, mold in well water is more common than getting it through pipes or city water.
Other causes of mold in well water come from bacteria or pollution that get into the ground and then wind up in the well. Through these ways, ground water can get contaminated and enter the well.
Because of the enclosed, damp, moisture-prone space, mold can develop in water bottles. It can also get in through bacteria from your mouth when you take drinks.
This combined with the liquid make water bottles an ideal place for mold.
Not washing it after use is another common cause of mold. The more you repeatedly use it without washing, the more likely mold can develop.
If the water bottle is kept out of the fridge for a while, this makes it more prone to mold, too. Leaving it in a hot place such as your car can cause mold to develop.
Look for black spores at the bottom of the bottle or spots on the drinking lid. If you notice a musty or strange smell, this is a sign there’s mold, and chances are you will smell it before seeing it.
Continuing to drink without cleaning can result in you swallowing mold which can be dangerous. Steps to take when cleaning a bottle are explained later.
What Should You Do If You Drank Something With Mold?
There’s a good chance that consuming a little mold with your drink won’t lead to illness. Your stomach acid will help remove the mold from your system.
But you can never be too careful, so it’s important to pay attention to see if you experience any symptoms or start feeling sick.
It’s never good to consume or ingest mold. You might get an allergic reaction or get ill.
How To Tell If You Are Starting To Get Sick After Drinking Mold?
Whether you get sick is largely dependent on the individual. Everyone reacts differently based on many factors.
Signs that you are getting sick after consuming mold include:
- Skin irritation
- Throat irritation
Similarly, drinking water with fungi in it can cause breathing problems and allergic reactions.
Seek treatment right away and let your doctor know you consumed mold.
How Long Does It Take To See & Experience The First Symptoms?
Symptoms will start within 1-2 days. With the potential illness or symptoms varying so much based on the person, this timeframe can differ slightly.
People with allergies or asthma are more likely to get sick from mold and could have worse symptoms. Children and the elderly are at higher risk for mold-related symptoms too.
How To Get Rid Of Mold From A Water Bottle
Let’s say you find mold in your water bottle. The best thing you can do is clean it right away.
It’s also important to remember to clean it regularly to prevent mold in the first place. It is recommended to clean your water bottle after each use, daily or at minimum every other day.
There are different methods and various ways to clean water bottles with mold.
This substance kills mold, making it a great choice. Put a mixture of vinegar (2 tablespoons) and water in the bottle, let it soak overnight and then rinse out with soap.
You can also use baking soda first, let that sit for 15 minutes, rinse that out, and then put the vinegar/water mixture into the bottle.
2.Baking Soda And Water
Some might opt for this over vinegar so to avoid the strong smell. Add the baking soda and water to the bottle, let it sit overnight and rinse.
Baking soda is effective at killing mold and cleaning out your bottle.
This is a strong substance that will kill mold. Put up to a ¼ cup into the bottle, shake, pour out and rinse thoroughly with soap and water.
Make sure you rinse well so that no hydrogen peroxide remains.
If your water bottle is dishwasher safe, then you can definitely put it in. Given how hot the water is combined with the dishwasher liquid or tablet, this will give the bottle an excellent cleaning and remove any mold.
Should you have a bottle that is microwave safe, you can use that to clean and kill the mold. Put water into the bottle and microwave it until it boils. The boiling water will do the work.
6.Soap And Water
Simple but effective. Take hot water and soap, put it into the water bottle and rinse. You can use a sponge for the lid and a brush to get completely inside the bottle, too.
Make sure you thoroughly clean the bottle inside and out rather than being casual about it. The more you scrub and rinse, the better chance you have of removing and killing the mold.
You also can fill your bottle or sink with soap and water and let it soak overnight before rinsing.
No matter what method you choose, let the bottle completely dry before using again.
Best Water Bottles To Use
When choosing a water bottle, you should definitely factor in how easy it is to clean. This might be something you overlook at first, as you focus more on appearance, style and other features.
But with all the cleaning necessary to prevent and remove mold, you should make this an important part of your decision.
You can start by finding one that is dishwasher safe or microwave safe. This allows you to take a hands-off approach when cleaning, as you let the appliance do the work.
The heat and soap combination from the dishwasher will prevent you from scrubbing and constantly rinsing while the microwave can quickly boil water to clean and sanitize the bottle.
Some companies use antimicrobial technology in their bottles. This prevents odors, bacteria and mold, making it an excellent choice.
Look for ones with a big lid or mouth area so that it is easy to reach in rather than one where you have to use a brush. A water bottle without any extra parts for the spout is a better choice, too.
Another factor to consider is one with an attached lid so that you don’t have to completely remove that piece when cleaning.
Think about the material you want and how that could play a role in cleaning: plastic, metal, stainless steel, rubber.
How To Prevent Mold In Your Water
With so many ways for mold to occur, you should consider maintenance and take steps to prevent it. There are many ways to do this.
Keep an eye on the water pressure and make sure it isn’t too high. This could lead to bursting pipes.
You also can put a water leak detector beneath your pipes. This device has a built-in alarm that goes off if water hits it, making it a good, quick way to know if you have a leak or flood.
During the winter, you can cover or insulate your pipes which will prevent them from freezing and bursting.
Should your pipes or the floor get wet, dry right away and do it thoroughly so that there’s no remaining area that stays wet. This can Cause mold to develop inside your plumbing.
One more step to take is to pour boiling water down your sink drain which will help clean the pipes and eliminate any mold growth in your drains.
Check the cover for damage or holes. If you see any, get it repaired or replaced immediately.
Make sure the seal is intact and not loose or broken. This is another easy way for mold to get into the well and into the water, the seal should be checked on a regular basis.
You also can test the water for contaminants, bacteria and mold which would make sense to do periodically. There are plenty of companies that perform this testing with various options, methods and levels for you to choose.
The best action you can take is to clean your bottle daily or after every few uses. Don’t let the same liquid sit in the bottle too long, either to prevent mold in your water.
After a few days, rinse it out and refill. This will keep the bottle clean, fresh and reduce the chances of mold developing.
If the water bottle is microwave-safe or dishwasher-safe, put it in there to give it a good, thorough cleaning. This will help prevent mold from getting inside as well.
Signs of Mold in Other Drinks
There are various ways to spot mold in your drink. Some are more obvious than others.
Should you see mold, smell mold or think it might be in your drink, make sure you clean the container and work to remove the mold from the source.
Mold In Tea
A sour taste is one indication mold has gotten into your tea.
Another sign could be if the tea loses its flavor or doesn’t smell the way it’s supposed to – mint tea that has no smell, for example.
Should you notice any of this, wash out the cup with soap or place in the dishwasher.
If tea bags are left unsealed and exposed to moisture or high temperatures, mold can develop. It is best to store them where there is little heat or sunlight.
Tea bags can last around a year and a half. It is recommended not to use beyond 2 years, as the tea can lose flavor, not smell right and develop bacteria or mold.
For similar reasons, don’t use tea bags past their expiration date.
Mold In Coffee
Look for abnormal taste or funny smell and discoloration. If you make your own coffee and it tastes strange, that could be a sign there’s mold in the coffee maker.
Check your coffee maker and clean it regularly. If it hasn’t been cleaned in a long time, there might be mold buildup so take a look and give it a thorough clean.
Another way mold can grow in coffee is if you reuse a filter. Say you forget to change it, the buildup from a dirty filter on top of making a new batch can cause mold and toxins.
Also, beans might have mold simply from being stored in an airtight container or bag. If those are kept in a hot environment or spend significant time on a truck getting to a store, moisture and mold can develop.
Mold In Juice
When it comes to juice, check for a black substance inside the rim of the bottle or cup. If you don’t finish the whole drink, put it in the fridge and take it out again the next day, check for a smell, visible spores and a strange taste.
Any of those could mean mold is present.
A common problem is with juice boxes. Because many are free of preservatives since they are made for kids, exposure to air can quickly cause mold.
Look for a green substance in the juice. Many are made with clear pouches so this is easily recognizable.
You also can pour the juice into your own cup to see what it looks like and see what the inside of the juice box looks like. There are times it might be laced with black or green mold.
Some contain tiny holes that you can’t see. One way to test is to squeeze the box and if it leaks, you know it has some of those holes and bacteria or toxins crept in.
Mold in Sports Drinks Such As Gatorade
With many of these bottles being clear, it is easy to see if mold is inside. If you see black spots, that likely is mold.
It can happen with new, unopened bottles if they aren’t sealed properly. This will cause air to get in.
Other indications are if the liquid darkens in color, becomes solid, smells strange or tastes funny. You also might notice black dots or a buildup of sediment at the bottom of the bottle, which are indications of mold.
Gatorade should last about a week if refrigerated.
Storing unopened bottles away from moisture or humidity will help too. These can last more than a year.
Mold In Milk
Given milk is white and comes in clear containers, it should be easy to spot mold. Look for a black substance, black dots, solidification of the liquid or fermenting by the liquid coming together.
You also will experience a bad smell and sour taste in milk that has mold.
Of course, check expiration dates carefully. Milk tends to go bad within a day or two of that, and it’s not recommended to drink beyond the date listed.