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Home » The Vine

The Vine: March 1, 2013

Submitted by on March 1, 2013 – 9:07 AM45 Comments


I’m looking for a reusable, portable, leak-proof container in which to transport fruit juice to and fro in the world. I specify the juice part because apparently that makes me an oddity amongst the coffee-/tea- and water-drinkers that travel mugs and water bottles cater to.

My primary concern is that it be easy to clean. This means the mouth and body of the container has to be wide enough that I can get a sponge and my hand down in there enough to actually do something or at least be able to use a spoon to poke the sponge around for cleaning purposes. This also means that crevices and sharp edges are to be kept to a minimum. By sharp edges I mean that I want the bottom of the inside of the container to be curved such that there isn’t a perpendicular-type meeting place of plastics where gunk seems to accumulate.

My current (or former, I guess) container is this one, and while the cup has the smooth inside that makes it easier to clean, the lid. Oh, let me tell you about the lid. It has these little corners of doom, that I just cannot get to. I tried a toothbrush, I tried an unbent paperclip to see if I could loosen the whatever-the-hell that is trapped in the dark recesses of this lid. And it’s not like I’m not cleaning this thing as I go along, okay? So why am I getting this creepy build-up of nastiness growing in there? (It also leaks when not kept in an upright position, so trying to replace the lid isn’t really worth it.)

I can go either way on insulation — if it will keep my juice cold, great, if not, eh, my priorities go to not leaking all over my bag and being cleanable without microscopic equipment. I’d prefer for it not to have a handle, but if that’s the only way to get my other criteria taken care of, I could go handled. How much I’m willing to pay for it is basically dependent upon how long it will last me despite daily use. Size-wise, 16 ounces would be preferable, but I could go up or down depending on which of the problems it solves. Basically, I want to be able to pour juice in a cup, slap a lid on, throw it in my bag and not have to worry about it until lunchtime. And then have that whole shebang be easily hand-washed in the sink once I get home.

Things I’ve use in the past: Tupperware cups with lids (lids get cracked after a while, occasional leaks, has that sharp-edged inside part where the side of the cup meet the bottom and the funky gunk that develops in there will not go away), jam jars (leak if not kept upright, lids rust, danger of carrying around glass), and the aforementioned Aladdin travel mug. So if that’s not too insanely picky for you, suggestions would be appreciated.

Help me, Nation-wan Kenobi, you are my only hope!



There is this interesting house on the side of Interstate 280 near San Francisco that always reminds me of this book I had when I was a very young child (early ’80s). The house is monolithic dome construction from the ’70s, here’s a Wikipedia link. It is possible that the book is also from the ’70s, the book has a kind of hippie-ish feel. 

Here are the details:

1.  The book is in Hebrew. I don’t know if it has an English version, we definitely only had it in Hebrew so I suspect it was not an English book that was translated.

2.  It is probably pre-school-aged/kindergarten reading level. I remember my dad reading it to me.

3.  Plot — the book was about these brightly-colored fruit people/things that lived in a house that is reminiscent of the house near 280. The fruit people gathered fruit and carried the fruit by distending their bodies into jugs and other containers. I think they made wine but don’t remember clearly.

I know it is a long shot but I’m hoping someone can help me figure out what the book is so I don’t have to think about it every time I drive by the house.






  • Jenna says:

    I’m a big fan of Nalgene bottles. They don’t leak, they’re easy to clean, and they don’t do that gross absorption thing that plastic often does. I use mine for water mostly, and fruit juice occasionally though, so I may not have come across any daily-use issues.

    This one has a wide mouth so it’s easier to clean than the narrow ones I like for water:

  • RJ says:

    Nic, I haven’t used this personally, but it’s advertised heavily during the Tour de France and I want one every time I see it. Clean Bottle: Ta da! It’s advertised as being leak proof and it unscrews at both ends to facilitate cleaning. I can’t attest to whether or not there are weird crevices in the lid(s) though. It is dishwasher safe, so if that’s an option in addition to handwashing, it couldn’t hurt to run it through the cycle now and then to sanitize any icky spots.

  • Marv in DC says:

    Regarding the books, I think you are talking about the Barbapapa books.

    Here’s a link to a google images search I found,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.43148975,d.dmg&biw=1541&bih=915&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=878wUcKaD_Ll0AHs-ICgCg

    I remember reading these when I was a kid (except in English in my case).

  • Les says:

    What about a wide-mouth mason jar with a Cuppow lid? I know you’re worried about glass, but mason jars are super strong. And easy soooo easy to clean. And seal really well. I don’t actually have a Cuppow lid, but I keep hearing that they’re awesome.

    S, I can’t help you with the book but I’m intrigued! Good luck!

  • KC says:


    Have you looked at Life Factory water bottles?

    After many disappointing water bottles, I am loving mine. The mouth is nice and wide (I still use a bottle brush to clean mine, but that’s just ’cause I have one), and I like that the clear glass allows me to really see that it’s clean. I haven’t had any problems with it leaking (other than when I get lazy about screwing the lid on), and my bottle has survived several drops onto various hard surfaces thanks to the silicone sleeve. Where the base meets the sides isn’t exactly curved, but it’s not a sharp perpendicular, either.

    I haven’t seen these at big box stores, but I frequently run into them at smaller retailers. Amazon also carries the line.

  • LynzM says:

    We used this one for my daughter for years at school:,default,pd.html

    Tip: soak the lid overnight in a bleach/water mix once in a while, and then use a small brush to scrub out the lid crevices. Good luck finding something you like!

  • emilygrace says:

    I’d recommend a bottle brush. They’re super cheap and would solve some of your bottle-cleaning problems. If you don’t have to worry about the wide mouth, it might be easier to find a bottle that has a simpler lid.

  • Wehaf says:

    Nic – have you looked into containers of this sort for kids? They’re definitely designed with juice (and minimizing leaks) in mind.

    A sturdier bottle that comes with juice in it already may work well, like Vitamin Water or Gatorade.

  • slices says:

    Not sure about the book, but to Marv in DC’s point, does anyone remember an early-morning weekend Barbapapa cartoon from the late ’70s/very early ’80s?! Never realized they were books too, but I have vivid memories of watching this when I was really small. I recall the way they bounced along the hillside though I don’t remember a wine-making component.

  • courtney says:

    I got my husband a (handle-less) Contigo mug for coffee & can vouch for its spillproofness. the lid has some nooks & crannies that MIGHT be tough to get to, but I think a pipe-cleaner could do it…it hasn’t gotten gross while he’s been using it (rinsing it out after every use & then running it through the dishwasher periodically) but I know that coffee & juice have very different levels of grossness potential.

    he has the West Loop variety– (you get 15% off if you sign up for their email list) but you might be able to find it cheaper elsewhere with the googles.

  • Cat (from Canada) says:

    For the books, the Barbapapas was my first thought too. They were originally written in French, but a quick search shows that they were translated into Hebrew.

    I did a search on “Barbapapa house san francisco” and this link popped up:

    So someone else made the same connection!

  • Cat (from Canada) says:

    Still searching. Is this the book:

  • Christy M says:

    For whatever bottle you end up using, I’d also invest in a bottle brush and these little sippy-cup brushes: I’d always had problems keeping my water bottles clean (we’re Nalgene widewouth fans) and…then we had a baby. And I use the bottle brush for cleaning all sorts of dishes and the set of sippy-cleaners or cleaning anything with crevices. So much so that we keep replacing them despite the fact that our 3 year old is beyond the bottles and sippys.

  • Lindsay says:

    I believe that the beverage container shown here×220/297x220_shaker.jpg is EXACTLY what you’re looking for. I use it all the time, and carry it by just tossing it in my gym bag, so I can attest to the waterproof-ness. I’ve drunk water, juice, shakes, and iced-coffee out of it; it’s so easy to clean I experience no gunk build-up at all. It’s a 20oz container and also a shaker. I also enjoy the protein shakes that this container is designed for.

  • Lisa says:

    I’ve been bouncing around to different bottles hoping to find one that works for the long run and handles being knocked around and dropped (graceful is NOT my middle name). I’m currently using a Tervis waterbottle like this:
    I drink tea in mine, wash it frequently using a bottle brush (third the recommendation), drop it, whatever.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    You can also use bottle brushes to clean other weird crevices (hew) around the house. Toothbrush-holder holes (hew), inexplicable nooks in the crisper-drawer track…they’re handy.

  • Marie says:

    To clean your current bottle – you could try soaking the lid with water and a camelbak cleaning tab (they’re designed to remove sports drink gunk) and using a pipe cleaner for the corners of doom.

    I have a larger version of the water / juice bottles I use for my kids that works great – although I still have to clean the straw routinely with a pipe cleaner.

    And Camelbak has some nice bottles designed for sports drinks – so should work well for juice too – including a glass version:

  • KTB says:

    Another tip for cleaning water bottles and the like is buying those denture cleaning tablets and tossing a couple of them in the bottles. I got that tip from a cycling magazine and it seems to work pretty well.

  • Shani says:

    Singing in in favor of the Life Factory bottles — I have one and put it through the dishwasher weekly. I’ve even slammed it against a treadmill recently in the gym and it did not break.

  • sonia says:

    I like the LIfe Factory bottles, and I also like my Klean Kanteen ( The glass and metal don’t make the water taste plastic-y, and both are dishwasher safe and easy to clean by hand.

  • Angharad says:

    Keep an eye on They’re out of stock at the moment, but are planning to relaunch “soon,” according to a tweet of about a week ago, and look like they’d be exactly what you’re looking for.

  • Anna says:

    The Barbapapa house! It was a highlight of our semi-annual holiday drives to visit family.

    Our books were in Swedish, though. We had a few, always wanted more, but never found them in the US.

    Now my daughter looks forward to the house. It was better when it was still white, in my opinion. A bit sparse and outdated, but cute.

  • Maria says: Portable, unspillable, easy clean features, unbreakable, no handle, and best of all: no plastic taste because it’s metal.

  • Ashley says:

    I was totally coming here to recommend those OXO sippy cup brushes Christy M. mentioned. They are awesome!

  • cayenne says:

    A lot of tea bottles are good in that they’re wide-mouthed in order to get leaves or infusers out, and to get the bottle brush in to clean to prevent tannic residue. Check tea places for their tumblers- here’s one that’s dishwasher safe:

  • Leigh says:

    CONTIGO. DEFINITELY SECOND THE CONTIGO! I have the regular water bottle, straw bottle, and coffee mug varieties, and they are all just awesome. The lids are complicated, but I’ve never had anything weird get stuck in or grow in them with regular rinsing and throwing occasionally in the dishwasher. And they DO NOT leak. You can definitely throw it in your bag and be good to go.

    Otherwise, if you’re okay with glass, why not just use a mason jar? They’re totally leak proof and 100% smooth and washable…you can also buy a whole flat of them for like $10.

  • squandra says:

    My husband and I got HydroFlasks for Christmas, and we LOVE them:

    There are several options for tops; we have the regular ones which are super easy to clean.

    Also, they aren’t lined with BPA (or any of the BPA alternatives which are quite often worse), they’re indestructible, and they hold temperature extremely well.

  • Kristin says:

    I carry lunch to and from work and make my own salad dressing, so I’ve used the smaller size of these from the Container Store and been very happy:

    It seems they have a 16 ounce and a 32 ounce and the price is very reasonable. Hope it helps.

    In regard to cleaning, a bottle brush is good; also, you can soak things overnight in white vinegar and that usually kills any germs AND odors and is very cheap and eco-friendly.

  • Krista says:

    I second the Nalgene selection. And I love my Sigg bottles.
    Though I only use them for water so clean up isn’t a concern for me.

    Baby bottle brushes are awesome. I even use them to clean those double-walled tumblers that are too narrow for my hand to reach the bottom. Pipe cleaners are also wonderful. They fit through straws and can be bent to clean all kind of places.

  • SC says:

    Book question letter writer here: You all are amazing. I looked at the images for the Barbapapa books and those are totally the ones I remember. I’ll have to see if I can find any at the library. I think the one we must have had was Barbapap’s New House. Thank You!

  • Robin says:

    I too had the Barbapapa memory recently! Weren’t they wonderful?!

  • clobbered says:

    Get a few bottles of Voss mineral water in the glass container (they also do them in plastic, but you want glass). No funny plastic taste, acid damage etc.

    To clean, put some hot water in the glass bottle, put the lid back on and shake until all bits have loosened, then rinse out. It’s clear glass so you can see it’s clean.

    When the cap gets too grungy, recycle the bottle and open a new one.

    If you actually like some fizzy water occasionally, this solution is “free”.

  • s says:

    I’m with the Kleen Kanteen crowd. I currently use the wide-mouth insulated one in the 12-ounce size. (They have 16-ounce and bigger as well.)

    It’s easy to clean, and you can choose different lid styles if you don’t like the original one. And the insulation lets you carry cold (and hot) liquids without turning your bag’s contents into ice cubes (or hot… things).

  • Nicki says:

    I will third (or fourth?) the nomination of the LifeFactory glass water bottles. They’re amazing! They’re a little heavy, since they’re glass, but they’re clear, they’re easy to clean either by hand or in a dishwasher, and they’re not leaching chemicals or weird tastes into your beverage, and they don’t leak. Plus I’ve knocked both of mine off the counter more than once, with no chips or cracks.

  • Colleen says:

    I’m just “dittoing” the Klean Kanteen crowd. I use mine for water mostly, but also wine sometimes. It’s pretty easy to clean with a bottle brush.

  • Nic says:

    Thanks all! I actually got a LifeFactory bottle a few weeks ago*, but I’m bookmarking this page for future reference.

    *so far, so good (and heartening to see that it’s one of the ones that folks are recommending)

  • M says:

    I have successfully transported real hot chocolate (made with milk) in my Thermos, and then washed it out without problems.

    I have this

    It’s also very sturdy and holds up to bumps and dents very well, if that’s a concern at all. If you were going to throw it in a bookbag and then throw books on top before, somehow, banging into a wall, for example.

    There are also some with straws that claim to be leak-proof.

  • Cait says:

    The best (and cheapest) option for the cup is Mason jars with a plastic lid ( A case of 12 or 16 oz jars is around $10 at your local hardware store, and a box of lids is a few dollars more. I use this combo every day to carry all sorts of juices and smoothies to work. The lids never leak and they’re super easy to clean. And no handles!

  • Hellcat13 says:

    I love my Contigos for coffee, but it doesn’t work well for my smoothie. Too many cracks and nooks and crannies in the lid; no matter long I soak it or how hard I scrub with a teeny bottle brush, I still eventually find gunk that I’ve missed. I wouldn’t recommend it for anything that’s a bit sticky. I’m going to try some of your suggestions to replace it.

  • flyingbird says:

    We like the Nalgene “On The Fly” water bottles:

    there’s also a kid-size 12 oz., which is very packable. Easy to clean, and closes snugly.

  • Jo says:

    I’ve used Nalgene bottles for all types of water and juice. Unless you’re specifically looking for a cup, just get a Nalgene. Cheap, easy to clean, and sturdy.

  • Amy Number 512 says:

    Thermos, old school or otherwise?

  • Sheri says:

    I know that house well. It always gives me that warm nostalgic feeling (I grew up in Santa Clara and moved away in 1987, so all of my memories of that area are very geodesic-domey).

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