Can I purify my water with household bleach?
Boiling water is the preferred method to kill any potential bacteria and other organisms in the water. However, if the emergency has left you with no way to boil the water or if you have limited fuel and do not want to use it for boiling water, you may treat the water with fresh liquid chlorine laundry bleach. NOTE: do not use scented, color safe, laundry bleach, powdered bleach, or swimming pool chlorine - these contain additional chemicals that are poisonous. Also, be aware that liquid bleach loses strength with age.

If the water is very dirty looking and/or has particulate matter in it, you should filter the water through a coffee filter, paper towels, or clean cloth before treating it.

Below is a description of how much liquid bleach to add to each gallon of water:
• Amount of fresh bleach to add to clear water:1/4 teaspoon (8 drops) per gallon
• Amount of fresh bleach to add to cloudy/dirty water:1/2 teaspoon (16 drops) per gallon

After you add the bleach, thoroughly mix by stirring or shaking the container. Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using. A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable in the water. If not, add another dosage of bleach and allow the water to stand another 15 minutes before using.

The water can also be treated with the use of water purification tablets which can be purchased at most outdoors or sporting goods stores. Follow the directions for use on the package you purchase.

Treat only enough water to meet your needs for 48 hours at a time. There is an increased chance of re-contamination if the treated water sits for more than 48 hours. Refrigeration will also help avoid re-contamination.

Note: Most home water filters are meant for water that is already micro-biologically safe. Using these filters during a "boil water notice" will not guarantee the safety of the water. Replace any filter cartridges after the boil water notice has been lifted to insure your filter is not contaminated.

Show All Answers

1. How much water should I store?
2. Is bottled water from the grocery store suitable for storing?
3. More Water For Emergencies FAQs
4. Is it safe to store tap water for use during emergencies?
5. What type of container should I use to store the water?
6. How do I treat the tap water I am planning to store?
7. How often should I change my stored water?
8. I've used up my emergency water supply. Now what?
9. ACWD has issued a "boil water notice." What does this mean?
10. Can I purify my water with household bleach?
11. Are there any other important drinking water guidelines I should follow after a major earthquake?