Preparedness blog

Rotating your Water Storage

By Jeff and Amy Davis
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A common question we are asked about preparing for any type of emergency is how often you should rotate your water storage. If you’ve tried to search around on the internet for an answer, there is a lot of conflicting information. We hope our article will not only answer your question but also help you feel more confident about preparing for an emergency.

Water StorageWhy Should Your Rotate Water Storage

If your water is not stored correctly, bacteria and algae can start growing inside the container and make it impossible to drink during a crisis. If you decide to use store-bought water, it needs to be rotated by the expiration date since the plastic used contains BPA.

"Although studies support the safety of BPA exposure at low levels, such as those in normal water-bottle use, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Toxicology Program have expressed substantial concerns about the effects of BPA on the endocrine and cardiovascular systems; infants and children are at particular risk. A 2009 study from the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that participants who drank for a week from bottles containing BPA showed a two-thirds increase of BPA in their urine." - National Geographic

How Often?

When you treat water properly and have it in a dark and cool area, you could potentially get away with never having to rotate your water. As a good rule of thumb, we recommend that you check your water every 6 – 12 months. To help, we created this application to set up yearly reminders to check your water.

What You’ll Need to Check For-

  • Build Up Around the Edges
  • Bacteria
  • Algae
  • Cloudy Water
  • Foul Smell

How to Preserve Your Water Storage:

  • Keep your water in an opaque container (green or blue)
  • Store in a cool and dark place
  • Treat your water with water preserver or chlorine

How to Clean Your Water Container or Tank

Cleaning out your container is pretty simple and can be done by anyone. First, you need to wash out the tank. Pick an area that is open and not cluttered. Make sure to use mild soap  and water. When cleaning the inside of the barrel, use a scratch pad to get the hard to get areas. Rinse out and repeat the process if you suspect it has been in contact with bacteria or other harmful substances. It is important to make sure that there is no soap or chemicals inside the container once you rinse it out.

How to Treat Your Water Storage

Most people recommend that you use chlorine or bleach to treat the water before storage. However, this can be pretty tricky; adding too much can be harmful, adding too little won't help much. We recommend that you use the water preserver. With just one little bottle, you can treat 50 - 55 gallons of water and extend the shelf-life from 12 months to 5 years. We still recommend that you get into the habit of checking your water supply every 6 - 12 months just to make sure your water storage is clean.

How often do you rotate your water storage?

6 years ago
Gene Walls
11 years ago at 12:24 PM
I think I may order some . I have a 550 gal. water container , if I can go 5yrs. without rotating my water , i'm all for it !
Angie Goodner
6 years ago at 8:29 AM
I have a whole bunch of 2 liter bottles that I have water in and I get rid of the water and refill the water every 6 months is the 2-liter bottles going to work or do I need something else
Dougie Quick
4 years ago at 12:58 PM
I use glass water bottles never ending supply as my wife drinks Te java tea that comes in 1 liter glass bottles . I feel like the water stored in these will stay good basically forever! So long as the water is clean and good why would I rotate it???
6 years ago at 9:22 AM
Do your water containers (the 5 gal. Blue ones) come pre-washed or should they be washed before filling? Thanks
Mary S
6 years ago at 11:05 AM
Would boiling and or filtering water treated with the water preserver (older than 5 years) provide safe water without having to replace it? There are so many filters on the market now. Please list the current top 5 recommended for larger home storage (vice travel) addressing factors such as contaminants removed, cost, etc.
6 years ago at 1:18 PM
I have three 550 gallon water tanks with garden hose faucets at the base to draw water from. I drain and refill every six months to keep the water fresh even though it will last a year no problem. I'd rather have fresher water available if needed and tap water is cheap. City tap water usually has a lot of chlorine already in it so I don't treat it with additional additives. 10 years so far with no problems. Most people overlook how much we depend on water and store way too little.
4 years ago at 10:47 PM
Hey! Your idea seems the easiest. So you do not ever clean out your 550 gallon containers... you just drain and refill every 6 months?
Chris Laube
6 years ago at 6:33 AM
To Dan Fava..... The ready store is not going to answer. The question was asked three times not one ever got a response. Here is the best advise I can offer. If your drums are not contaminated then a 80/20 water to bleach rinse will work fine. Just put 4 gallons of water in the drum (55 gal I assume) and a gallon of bleach. Close up the drum and roll it around turn it upside down etc etc until the interior is completely coated. Pour the solution into a clear container or five 1 gallon ones. Look at the solution or it's clear you are fine and can use the same 5 gallons for all your drums. If it's cloudy then put it back in the drum and continue sloshing it around. If you think scrubbing is required wash out the drum after the bleach wash and put 5 lbs of rock salt and a gallon of water in the drum and shake concentrating on the inside top of the drum where you can't see or reach. rinse again and check the solution for discoloration. Finally rinse with clear water, fill and treat with a two part water storage mix. If the drum is really bad you may need a pressure washer that has a soap tank and a curved nozzle. Just make sure you rinse carefully after using any chemical. Then fill and treat as above. Good Luck
5 years ago at 3:48 AM
Since I use unfiltered municipal water I only rotate annually in my regular storage of 4 and 5 gallon jugs. My 55 gallon barrel will only be done every 5 years because it's treated.
5 years ago at 9:30 AM
There is no need to rotate water, IF you have a way of purifying it when needed. Dumping and cleaning 55 gallon (or larger) drums is a waste of time and water. Tap water comes already chlorinated so no need to add more. If drums are filled clear to the top, there is no possibility of air getting into them to contaminate the water. Buy a Berkey (or similar gravity system) with several filter replacements. Filters last a LONG time.
Dougie Quick
4 years ago at 1:07 PM
The ultimate zero maintenance system I think would be to connect a water tank in between the home's water supply...Assuming you are using a booster pump anyway. Just connect the water service to the water tank via float valve to shut off water when tank is full ....then connect the outlet on tank to booster pump for home. Now the tank will continually be drained and more need to rotate contents every 6 months ...another plus is if the city or well source has to be shut down you stay in business until tank it drained...downside is IF contaminants come through the city water it will pollute the tank too leaving no good water ...a solution to that would be to have TWO tanks plumbed in with valves to isolate one ...then every 6 months or whenever you like, swap the valve positions to change which tank is reserve....elaborate yes but lots of water storage and not a lot of hassle once installed
Robert L. Nease
3 years ago at 4:10 PM
I would like to buy the recommended water preserver.
Anne Nowlin
3 years ago at 3:43 PM
I just received the 4 of the 5 gallon water containers from Ready Store. Should I add bleach to the water when I fill them? I was hoping to keep one in my car where it could get warm. The other three will be in cool closets. When I filled my 55 gallon barrels I added the concentrated bleach. TIA, Anne