Have you ever wondered if the water in your toilet is actually clean?
Perhaps you’ve got a furry pal who likes to drink from the toilet bowl, and you want to make sure the liquid is safe for them. Or maybe you’ve had to stick your hand down the pan to pull out your keys.
Either way, you might be surprised to hear that the water in a toilet usually comes from the same mains water supply that supplies the water to your taps and appliances around the house. So, technically speaking the water that goes to your toilet is safe.
However, once the water hits the toilet bowl it’s no longer fresh, drinkable water, because it’s now teeming with loo germs!
Once the fresh water makes contact with the sides of the toilet bowl it picks up all the microorganisms that are living in the toilet bowl and becomes bacteria-ridden. This water is no longer clean. And although you cannot see the bacteria in the water or on the sides of the bowl, it is still there!
In fact, your toilet bowl could be plagued by as many as 3.2 million bacteria per square inch. And that’s not actually surprising considering what goes down the pan!
And while you can argue that cleaning your toilet every day and deep cleaning it with bleach and all kinds of chemicals will keep the loo clean, it still doesn’t make the water 100% clean and free from all kinds of germs.
Plus, once you add cleaners to the bowl, you’re not just dealing with loo germs in the water, but you’ve also got chemical-ridden water, so the water still won’t be as fresh as it was before it entered the toilet bowl.
Note: Greywater, or water that has been collected and reused around the home, should go through a chemical treatment process to rid the fluid of bacteria, so it should be clean when it reaches the toilet bowl. Nonetheless, this water should not be consumed.
Is Toilet Water Safe to Drink?
It is not safe to drink toilet water because the water, even if it looks fresh and crystal clear, is riddled with all manner of germs, like E.coli and Giardia.
Given the fact that urine, faeces, sick, tissues and a whole host of other stuff goes down the toilet, you’d be better off avoiding drinking this water.
In addition to this, drinking water from the toilet is not a good idea because you stick a lot of chemicals down the loo to clean it.
You really don’t want to consume any of these products, even if they are in small quantities, because they can burn, can make you vomit and can make you seriously ill.
Is Toilet Water Safe for Pets to Drink?
It’s not uncommon for a dog or a cat to stick its head down the toilet to drink the water. And although as a human this seems utterly disgusting, pets seem to love doing this!
So, why do animals do this? There are a couple of reasons why our furry friends like to do this. And the most common reason is because the toilet’s water is fresher and colder than the water in their bowl, so it’s more appealing.
You flush a toilet regularly, so the bowl is filled up with new water, which is often cooler to the touch, throughout the day. Whereas you might put a bowl of clean water down for your dog in the morning and replace it at night. Throughout the day the water in the bowl gets warmer, dirtier and isn’t as appetising.
Also, your pet’s water bowl might be dirty, so they’d prefer to drink out of the toilet bowl because it looks much nicer (if only they knew what germs were in there!).
In addition to this, there’s also the thrill of the chase/basic instinct to seek and find resources, like water. In the wild animals would’ve been looking for food and water daily, so this behaviour might just be a link back to past times.
This could explain why your cat likes to flick the tap on in the kitchen, or why your dog chases the water sprinkler in the garden—it’s a fun game that draws on natural instinct.
However, even though the above may seem harmless, allowing your pets to drink water from the toilet bowl isn’t the smartest idea. It’s actually quite a dangerous move, so it would be better to stop your pet from doing it.
Not only is the toilet bowl riddled with bacteria, but some people don’t always fully flush the toilet after they’ve been, so faeces could be sitting in the pan. If your pet consumes this water, they could be seriously ill and would need to get veterinary treatment.
Further to this, toilet bowls are normally cleaned with strong chemical products (containing bleach), and drinking any of these items, even if they have been diluted, can be lethal for animals. Just a quick lick of a loo freshener that’s stuck onto the side of the toilet would be bad enough.
If your pet starts to show signs of lethargy, vomiting, frothing at the mouth or burn marks, for example, you need to take them to a vet immediately.
In addition to the above, a small pet, like a baby kitten, could get stuck in a toilet if it accidentally fell in.
So, it’s best to keep any kind of animal away from the toilet!
How to stop animals from drinking toilet water?
Here are a couple of ideas to stop your pet from drinking the water in the toilet:
- Close the lid on the toilet when you’re done using the loo.
- Close the bathroom door to stop your pet from going into the room in the first place.
- Make sure you clean the toilet on a regular basis, so it’s as free from germs as possible.
- Put an extra bowl(s) of water down around the house to keep pets entertained for longer.
- Make a pet’s water bowl more appealing – keep the water cold and fresh.
- Get creative and buy a water fountain for your pet – the NICREW pet water fountain is a small, light-up water bowl that has a flower in the middle where water spurts out. It’s a fun watering hole for your pet to enjoy!
- Clean your pet’s water bowl, so the water doesn’t taste funny.
- Use chemical-free cleaning products wherever possible.
Is the Water in the Toilet Cistern Clean?
Technically, yes, the water in the cistern is clean because the water comes from the same supply that supplies water to the whole of your home.
Even so, it is best not to drink this water. Why? Mainly because toilet cisterns aren’t cleaned very often, so you don’t know what dirt is lurking in there.
Although there isn’t going to be a huge number of bacteria in the cistern compared to the toilet bowl, it’ll still be dusty, particularly around the edges at the top.
The cistern might’ve gone a little orange with age too (too much iron in the water), so it wouldn’t look that appealing anyway. So, drinking water from the cistern is a big no-no.
What to Do If You Splash Toilet Water on Yourself
Drinking toilet water is something you should avoid doing. But what should you do if some water from the toilet bowl splashes back onto you, or you drop your wallet in the toilet and you’ve got to retrieve it?
Well, the first thing to do is to remain calm because a small amount of water from the toilet isn’t going to harm you, and if you act quickly there shouldn’t be a major cause for concern.
You just need to wash your hands (and arms, if applicable) with plenty of soap and hot water. And you can also disinfect your hands with some hand sanitiser when you’re done, just to be extra careful!
If toilet water goes into your mouth, you’ll need to clean and rinse your mouth out with water as fast as you can. You can then brush your teeth and use some mouthwash to make sure all the dirty water has been removed from your mouth.
If toilet water goes into your eyes, you will need to wash your eyes thoroughly with water.
If toilet water gets onto a cut or a graze, you’ll need to carefully rinse the area down with water. And then you’ll need to keep an eye on the area in case it gets infected.
Bethan has a passion for exploring, reading, cooking and gardening! When she’s not creating culinary delights for her family, she’s concocting potions to keep her house clean!