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Emergency Water Supply - Disinfecting Drinking Water (Household Bleach)

Disinfect Water using Household Bleach

When regular water service has been disrupted during a natural or man-made emergency disaster, it is recommended using only bottled water or emergency survival pouch water. If these are not available, the next best option is to boil your water for at least one full minute; three (3) full minutes if you live above 5,000 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level. If boiling is not practical, you can disinfect your water using household bleach or water purification tablets until the regular water service is restored.

“When disinfecting water using household bleach, use regular, unscented chlorine bleach products that can be used for disinfection and sanitizing as indicated in the instructions found on the label...”

The label may say that the active ingredient contains 6 or 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite.

Do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches that have added cleaners.

If your water is cloudy, let it first settle and then filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel or even a coffee filter. Before adding the household bleach to your water, make sure it has been stored at room temperature and is less than a year old from when you purchased it. This helps to ensure the active ingredients will still be effective in sanitizing the water.

How much household bleach should you use?

For 6% Bleach:

Add 2 drops of bleach to each quart or liter of water; 8 drops for each gallon of water.

For 8.25% Bleach:

Add 2 drops of bleach to each quart or liter of water; 6 drops for each gallon of water.

Double the amount of bleach if the water is cloudy or very cold.

After adding the bleach, stir well and let the water stand for at least 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If it doesn’t, double the dosage recommended above and let the water stand for another 15 minutes before use. If the chlorine taste is too strong, pour the water from one clean container to another and let it stand for a few hours before use.

For more information on disinfecting water during an emergency situation, please visit the following EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency Website) link.

In addition to having household bleach, many have also added water purification tablets to their emergency supply kits. Here are some of the more popular ones found online at Amazon.com.

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