How to Store Emergency Water for Cleaning (Without Having to Dip into Your Drinking Water)

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If you’re into doing any sort of emergency preparedness, you are likely well aware of how important clean, potable (aka drinkable) water is to include in your preps. Water is life and without it, you will not survive an emergency situation where your ability to get good, clean water is taken away. This could be a flood, fire, national emergency or any other major event that changes your life. The thing is though that in those situations, you’ll need water for more than just drinking, cooking and bathing. You’ll also need it for cleaning and I don’t know about you, but I’m not too keen on dipping into my drinking water to do anything like scrub a counter or wash a load of laundry.

Ever wondered how to store emergency water for cleaning use only? Use this tip to keep your drinking water and cleaning water easily separated!

Emergency Preparedness – How to Store Emergency Water for Cleaning

While my family does practice emergency preparedness, we tend to keep our supplies at around a year’s worth. That is the reason that I wanted to figure out how to store emergency water for cleaning without digging into that drinking water. We don’t keep enough drinking water on hand to handle drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning, but I knew it wouldn’t be too hard to find a way to separate that water out and make it easier on ourselves. Then? I stumbled upon the answer.

Emergency Preparedness – How to Store Emergency Water for Cleaning



My Emma has a really bad habit of taking the empty laundry detergent bottles that we use for our homemade liquid laundry detergent with Castile soap and throwing them into the garage when they’re empty. They’re supposed to go into the garage until we make our next batch, but she literally throws them in there instead of sitting them on the shelving system that they’re supposed to go onto. This means that when I go in there to get them, I usually have to wade through a pile of old Arm & Hammer laundry detergent bottles to get to a spot where I can reach both the shelves and the bottles to put them away.

It was during one of those wading trips to the garage that I realized the answer to my how to store emergency water for cleaning question was already answered.

Those laundry detergent containers!

Now I want to make something perfectly clear; we are not using them to store emergency water that will be used for drinking, cooking, gardening or bathing. It is not safe to do so. The water in them will only be used for cleaning. We have a 55 gallon water storage barrel, 5 gallon water containers, two 100 gallon Water Bobs and bottled water for water that we need to be safe. We also have a Big Berkey water filter for water that we may need to filter.

But that cleaning water. All I need for it to be usable is for it to be clean. It doesn’t need to be drinkable to clean with. It only needs to not be dirty or have any sediment in it. Plus, using the laundry detergent bottles actually does double duty since they still have soap residue in them from being used for homemade laundry detergent. This means that should I ever need to use them, the first time or two, I will be able to save on soap usage too since the water in them will already have soap in it. Since we use Castile soap in our laundry detergent, I’m not concerned with harsh chemicals. Castile soap can be used to clean the whole house so it works out.

Once we’ve got our laundry detergent made, we take any extra detergent containers that are left over and fill them with water. I then print out a label using my Dymo Labelwriter that labels it as “Non-potable Water. Cleaning Use Only”. Each bottle gets two labels, one on the front and one on the back so that it is perfectly clear that the water can not be used for drinking. Our friends and family save their empty laundry bottles for us so that helps to keep us in bottles!

This way of learning how to store emergency water for cleaning does create a little bit of extra work, but the truth is that anyone who practices emergency preparedness will tell you that sometimes the extra work is worth it. For us, it is in this case. We would rather keep our potable water for keeping us happy and content and let cleaning water be exactly that; water that is going to go down the drain anyhow. Not only is it a great way to store emergency water for cleaning, but you can also use it as a way to use greywater in your home. If you’re using greywater, you’re not spending any extra cash to fill up those bottles and you’ll still have the water that you need to mop the floor with, wipe a counter with or wash a load of laundry with.


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Stacy Williams

Stacy Williams is a 37-year old wife to a USAF Gulf War Veteran, mother of two teen girls and fur-mamma to a rescued pit bull. The face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family, she also owns and manages Long Haul Wife, Republic Preparedness, The Genealogy Queen and a handful of others sites. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome a drinking problem, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence, and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

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