By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — LARQ, a San Francisco-based startup, claims to have built the world’s first self-cleaning water bottle.

In just 60 seconds, LARQ will purify water and clean the inner surfaces of the water bottle.

LARQ says it created proprietary UV-C LED technology to kill nearly 100 percent of germs and harmful bacteria and viruses.

“A big part of what we’re trying to solve is not that people can’t clean the water bottle, it’s that we find that a lot of people end up reaching for a plastic water bottle,” said CEO & Co-Founder Justin Wang.

CEO and co-founder Justin Wang says he came up with the idea after feeling guilty about grabbing for a plastic water bottle one too many times.

Wang first launched a wildly successful KickStarter campaign, raising almost $2 million for LARQ.

The bottle activates every two hours in self-cleaning mode.

“We always found this issue of, when you’re on the go and you’re searching for your water bottle, it’s not clean. It’s a little smelly, you can’t purify water on the go, sometimes,” said Wang.

LARQ says only a tiny fraction of plastic bottles are recycled and turned into new ones. More than 1 million plastic bottles end up in landfills every minute.

“Water safety and water is not only a third-world-country issue but it’s also something that affects the U.S. so having that option every time during a hurricane or even in Flint, Michigan you have water-quality issues,” he added.

Even when the water quality is good, as is the case with most tap water in San Francisco, LARQ says many germs, and the stench come from the bottle itself.

“I definitely would try it out, give it a shot, I think bottles always get really disgusting on the inside if you have it for awhile,” said Bay Area resident Chiko Chingaya.

UC Berkeley environmental engineering professor Ashok Gadgil specializes in safe drinking water.

“UV disinfection is a very effective and safe way to disinfect water,” Gadgil said.

He says UV light illuminates the water and kills the DNA of the bacteria.

“It’s a pretty, pretty new technology and to have it reach commercial prices, the prices have come down for commercial use, that’s a very recent development,” he added.

The LARQ bottle retails for $95. It is rechargeable and each charge lasts a month.

“It’s very steep, although if it does all that and if it lasts for a month and you break it down per day then it wouldn’t be so bad,” said Theresa Soto, who is visiting San Francisco from Kansas.

LARQ is currently sold at Bloomingdale stores nationwide and on its website. In the first three months since it went live, LARQ says it has shipped 25,000 bottles.

The company says it is working on expanding to more retailers across the country and introducing similar technology for use in homes.

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