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How to Disinfect Drinking Water with Bleach

In emergency situations, it’s important to avoid drinking unsafe water. When boiling isn’t an option, you can make small quantities of water safer to drink by adding the right ratio of bleach.

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It’s not always practical in an emergency situation to boil water for 1 minute to make it safe to drink. Here’s how you can treat water with Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach.

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Steps for disinfecting water with bleach

  1. 1

    Remove any debris

    Remove all suspended material from collected water by letting it settle to the bottom or by filtration. This means that after you collect some water that hasn’t been treated, you need to let it sit long enough to let any debris settle to the bottom of the container.


    Check with your water service provider to confirm that your tap water is safe to drink. If you stocked up on bottled water, save the empty bottles. You can use some of them to collect untreated water or to store the water you treat.

  2. 2

    Add the right ratio of bleach

    Next, decant the clarified contaminated water into a clean container, and add the bleach. For 1 quart of water, use 4 drops of Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. For gallons of water, use 25 drops or ¼ teaspoon of Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach.


    Do not use thickened or scented bleaches like UltimateCare Bleach. Only use bleach that was purchased within a year and has been stored in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight.

  3. 3

    Wait for 30 minutes

    Allow the treated water to stand for 30 minutes. Properly treated water should have a slight chlorine odor.

  4. 4

    Increase the bleach ratio if needed

    If there’s no chlorine odor, you’ll need to repeat the treatment. Add the same amount of bleach, and wait for another 15 minutes. Check again for the chlorine odor before drinking the water.