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Can Bacteria Grow in Water Coolers?

June 15, 2021 3 min read

can bacteria grown in water coolers

Looking at your water cooler or dispenser, what do you think of? Or you haven’t given it a thought because as long as it’s giving your hot and cold water, who cares, right? But for those curious buddies out there, here’s a top question that comes to mind, “can bacteria grow in water coolers?”.

We always have to remember that no matter how many glasses of water we comply with drinking every day, it would go to waste if it’s not clean and contaminated. If you’re asking if bacteria can grow in water coolers, the best answer is YES if you’re an irresponsible owner. Whether you’re using a bottled or bottle-less water dispenser, the growth of unwanted organisms is possible.

The bubbles and the sounds when you take a glass of water from your dispenser mean that the cooler draws air from the outside to relieve pressure and drop water into your drink. The cooler is then filled with anything that is floating in the air.

The key to keeping your water coolers safe to use is keeping them clean from time to time and sanitary practices. Find out everything about bacteria growth in your water cooler in this article.


can bacteria grow in water coolers
Using computer-based models, a USC research team studied how harmful bacteria survives and determined how to kill it. (Image/iStock)

You can find coliforms in all types of water. According to studies, bacterial species are visible in tap water, bottled water, and chilled water.

There’s a possibility that every thousandth liter of water had 2,000 potentially hazardous organisms. This number estimates four times the amount of organisms the health department’s limitations.

The case wasn’t that the water wasn’t clean since water extracted from bottles directly had much fewer bacteria than water poured through the cooler. The issue of the study was that the water that flowed through the cooler was mostly infected. Because the reservoirs were dirty, making the water contaminated and unsafe for consumption.


There are a few basic tips we can share to prevent this unfortunate event from happening. 

Water Cooler Cleaning
  1. Before cleaning, unplug for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Drain the reservoir of all water.
  3. Mix 3 teaspoons of household bleach per gallon of water to make a cleaning solution.
  4. Use a clean cloth or sponge and wipe the bottleneck, the interior of the reservoir, the top of the dispenser, the grill, the front faucet, and the catch tray’s interior surfaces. Make sure to clean it thoroughly.
  5. Pour the bleach/water solution into the reservoir until full. Then, drain 2-3 cups through the faucets before refilling the stock of water.
  6. Allow for 10-15 minutes to pass before draining, rinsing thoroughly, and flushing well with fresh water.
  7. Remove the catch tray. Wash it in warm water and soap. Make sure to clean all the grills. Bacteria may grow here, too.
  8. Check for dust collection on the back grill and clean it if necessary.
  9. Refill the cooler with a new water bottle, then flush roughly a cup of bottled water through the faucet and trash. Rinse any remaining bleach through the tap until it’s clean and ready for use again. 


If you’re worried about contaminants lurking in your water cooler, you can print these sanitary tips to keep your dispenser clean. High-quality water is essential for keeping your health at the optimal level. Prevention is better than cure!

  • Wash hands before using the water cooler.
  • Don’t touch the faucet when getting a glass of cold water.
  • Only use clean water bottles when refilling.
  • Make sure to wash your hands before refilling the cooler.
  • Try your best not to touch the neck of the water bottle.

Can Bacteria Grow in Water Coolers: FINAL THOUGHTS

Can bacteria grow in water coolers? YES. Bacteria can grow everywhere, and your water cooler is no exception. That’s why we need to maintain its cleanliness and practice hygienic usage of the dispenser. Prevention is better than cure. Don’t wait for anyone in your home or office to be sick because of contaminated water. Stay healthy and drink high-quality cold water from clean water coolers

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