How Long Can You Store Tap Water? Complete Guide

How Long Can You Store Tap Water? Complete Guide

How Long Can You Store Tap Water? A Comprehensive Guide


Water is the most essential resource for survival. In an emergency situation, access to clean and safe drinking water becomes even more crucial. But have you ever wondered how long you can store tap water? Is it safe to drink tap water that has been sitting for months or even years? In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the shelf life of tap water and provide you with some tips on how to properly store it.

Shelf Life of Tap Water

Tap water, when properly stored, can have an indefinite shelf life. However, there are a few factors to consider that may affect its quality over time.

1. Chlorine Dissipation

Tap water is typically treated with chlorine to kill bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Over time, the chlorine in the water can dissipate, making it more susceptible to contamination. To ensure the long-term quality of stored tap water, it is recommended to add a few drops of chlorine bleach (5-6% sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water every six months.

2. Bacterial Growth

Although tap water may initially be free of bacteria, over time, microorganisms can find their way into the container and start multiplying. To avoid bacterial growth, it is important to store tap water in clean, food-grade containers with airtight lids. Avoid touching the inside of the container or using dirty utensils when handling water.

3. Exposure to Light

Exposure to light, particularly sunlight, can cause tap water to deteriorate faster. Sunlight can break down chlorine molecules and promote the growth of algae and other microorganisms. To prevent this, store tap water in opaque or tinted containers that block out light.

How to Properly Store Tap Water

Now that we know some of the factors that may affect the shelf life of tap water, let’s look at some tips on how to properly store it for long-term use.

1. Choose the Right Containers

When storing tap water, it is important to use containers that are specifically designed for food storage. Look for containers made from food-grade plastic, glass, or stainless steel. Avoid using containers that have held non-food items, as they may contaminate the water.

2. Clean and Sanitize the Containers

Before storing tap water, thoroughly clean the containers with mild soap and water. Rinse them well to remove any residue. Once cleaned, sanitize them by filling them with a mixture of one teaspoon of unscented bleach per gallon of water. Let the bleach solution sit for a few minutes, then rinse the containers thoroughly with clean water.

3. Fill the Containers Properly

When filling the containers with tap water, leave about an inch of headspace to allow for expansion if the water freezes. Tightly seal the containers to prevent any contamination.

4. Store in a Cool and Dark Place

To extend the shelf life of tap water, store the containers in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. A pantry or basement is an ideal location for long-term storage.

5. Rotate and Refresh the Water

While tap water can be stored indefinitely if properly stored, it is a good practice to rotate and refresh the water every six months. This helps to ensure the quality and taste of the water.

My 2 Cents

Storing tap water for long-term use is a smart preparedness practice. During emergencies or natural disasters, access to clean water can be limited. By following the tips mentioned above, you can have a reliable supply of safe drinking water at your disposal. Remember to regularly check and replenish your water storage to ensure its freshness and quality. Stay prepared and stay hydrated!