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How to Clean Water: Here's How to Get Safe Drinking Water

How to Clean Water: Here's How to Get Safe Drinking Water

Safe drinking water may be available in almost every developed country, but many low-income countries have poor access to safe drinking water. Many do not know how to clean water, and are thus exposed to water that may not be safe to drink or are contaminated.

About 829,000 people die each year from diarrhea due to unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, and hand hygiene. Around 297,000 of them are children under 5 years. This could easily have been avoided had the problems of clean water accessibility were addressed. In areas where water is not readily available, people often disregard the importance of handwashing. Hence, increasing the possibility of having diarrhea and other illnesses.

Aside from diarrhea, there are other diseases that are related to contaminated food and water. In 2017, more than 220 million people required treatment for schistosomiasis – a disease caused by parasitic worms that were contracted from contaminated water.

In this article, we will discuss the need to make drinking water safe and disinfected, as well as teach you how to clean water.

Why Do We need to Clean Water?

There is a need to disinfect public water supplies to eliminate pathogens that carry waterborne diseases, such as typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, hepatitis, diarrhea, and salmonellosis. Transmission of water against these harmful pathogens can be controlled through careful treatment techniques that reduce the number of microorganisms.

Sterilization and chlorination are some of the widely used methods in disinfecting drinking water. Chlorination is adopted universally and has been used for decades due to its convenience and its reliability as an effective disinfectant.

According to the Drinking Water and Health journal by the National Academy of Sciences 1977, “chlorination is the standard of disinfection against which others are compared.”

Water During an Emergency

In emergency situations such as floods or any event that requires evacuation, the water supply might not be safe for drinking or using. Having a supply of clean drinking water is important when preparing for an emergency. Finding an alternative source of water or knowing how to treat contaminated water can also help in these situations.

Boiling, adding disinfectants, and filtering can help treat contaminated water in case of an emergency. Disinfection methods can kill harmful viruses and bacteria, but may not be as effective when controlling parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia. In these cases, chlorine dioxide tablets can be used and are very effective as long as the manufacturer’s instructions are followed correctly.

It is important to note, however, that water that is contaminated with fuel, toxic chemicals, or radioactive material will not be made safe by boiling or disinfection. If the water is contaminated with fuel or toxic chemicals. It is best to find another source of water or use bottlewnstead.

How to Clean Water

When in an emergency situation, it is important to know how to clean water and how to store it. To disinfect water, you can use an unscented household liquid chlorine bleach. Below are steps to disinfect water:

  1. If the water is cloudy, make sure to filter out any foreign material. Use a clean cloth or paper towel as a filter. You can also allow it to settle.
  2. Draw off the clear water.
  3. Apply the bleach. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label of the bleach.
  4. If there are no instructions, look for the part of the label that says “Active Ingredient” and check the sodium hypochlorite content. Use a dropper to apply the bleach.

If it says 5%-9% concentration of sodium hypochlorite, add 2 drops of bleach for every quart or liter of water.

If it says 1% concentration of sodium hypochlorite, add 10 drops of bleach for every quart or liter of water.

  1. Stir the mixture well. Wait for at least 30 minutes before using it for drinking.
  2. Store the disinfected water in a sanitized container. Make sure that the lid is tightly closed.

In case of emergencies, make sure to have at least 1 gallon of water per person per day. If possible, have at least a 2-week supply. Use only a food-grade, FDA-approved, water storage container to avoid contamination. Use one that is not made of breakable materials.

Learn more about General Health here.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Making Water Safe in an Emergency, https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/making-water-safe.html Accessed Sept. 13, 2021

The importance of safe drinking water and sanitary systems for human health and well-being: a personal view: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1191/0143624406bt147oa Accessed Sept. 13, 2021

Reassessing the projections of the World Water Development Report, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41545-019-0039-9 Accessed Sept. 13, 2021

Drinking-water, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water Accessed Sept. 13, 2021

The Disinfection of Drinking Water, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234590/ Accessed Sept. 13, 2021


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Written by Fred Layno Updated 2 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Kristel Dacumos-Lagorza