Your Daily Water Usage May Shock You: 25 Ways to Reduce Your Consumption

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It’s beyond dispute that the United States is facing a water crisis. On the West Coast, where much of our produce is raised, an on-going drought has California governor Jerry Brown hinting that water conservation efforts might soon become mandatory. On the East Coast, the water is plentiful but is polluted by chemical spills, as seen in West Virginia and radioactive leaks, as seen in South Carolina. Two years ago, Michael Snyder wrote about the endless drought of 2012, calling it t

Two years ago, Michael Snyder wrote about the endless drought of 2012, calling it the largest natural disaster in American history.  He predicted a water shortage that will change the lives of every person on the planet, and he was right – we are living his prediction right now. If you aren’t already storing water, it is absolutely your top preparedness priority at this time. Forget, for now, about the beans and rice – how are you going to cook them without any water?  From a survival aspect, you absolutely must focus on a long-term source of water.  All of your best laid plans will be for naught if you don’t have water rights on your property, a collection system for rainfall, and second and third sources to rely on, as well as reliable purification systems.  Safe municipal water (although with the inclusion of all the toxic additives ‘safe’ is debatable) will soon be a thing of the past.

One thing that people don’t always stop to consider is exactly how much water they use each day.  Everyone in the preparedness realm knows the adage about 1 gallon per person per day, but that is only the tip of the iceberg and the advice of 8 glasses per day for drinking doesn’t cut it either. (In fact, that’s on the low side – here’s how much water you should actually be drinking for optimum health.)

It doesn’t include the vast amount of water we customarily use for hygiene purposes.  This video shows how easily the average American goes through at least 100 gallons of water per day.


Clearly, in an off-grid scenario, many of the activities in that video won’t be possible.  But what if it is a slightly different situation – perhaps your water supply is rationed and limited by the public utility companies?  You’re still going to want clean clothes, clean dishes, and a clean body.  You’ll want to be able to flush your toilet without using half of your day’s “ration” of water.

Here are a few suggestions for reducing the amount of water you use on a daily basis. The list is by no means comprehensive, and not all of these solutions will work for everyone’s situation.

First, take notes from those who live without running water. Just think: If you had to physically acquire every drop of water used in your home, whether by pumping it from a well or lugging it from a water source, you’d already be taking many of these lower-tech steps.

  • Reuse cooking water – if you have boiled pasta or vegetables, use this water for making soup. You will have retained some of the nutrients and flavor from the first thing you cooked in the water.
  • Landscape with plants that grow naturally in your area.  They should require little in the way of additional watering.
  • Grow organic. Chemical fertilizers can increase a plant’s need for water.
  • Wash some clothing by hand – it will use far less water than your washing machine.   Be sure and save the water for other uses.
  • When shaving, rinse your razor in a cup instead of under running water.
  • Skip the dishwasher and do the dishes by hand.
  • Instead of running water over each dish to rinse, fill one side of the sink or a basin with rinse water containing a splash of white vinegar. Running water uses up to 4 gallons per minute.
  • Use a glass of water to brush your teeth instead of running the tap the entire time. Running water uses up to 4 gallons per minute.
  • Use an organic mulch in your garden to help retain moisture.
  • Wash produce in a basin of water instead of under running water.
  • When you clean out your fish tank, reserve the water for your garden. Your veggies will love the nutrient boost!
  • Harvest rainwater for your garden.

These next options assume that running water is not an issue, but that you still wish to conserve.

  • Use a brick, a filled plastic bottle, or a float booster to fill space in the back of the toilet tank. This reduces the amount of water used in each flush.
  • Speaking of flushing, you may have heard the rhyme, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”
  • Devise a gray water catchment system for your shower, your washing machine, and your kitchen.  This water can be used for flushing, watering plants, and for cleaning.
  • Take shorter showers – try to reduce them to 5 minutes – this can save up to 1000 gallons per month! If you can’t handle a 5 minute shower, every 2 minutes you shorten your shower time by can save approximately 150-200 gallons per month.
  • Install a water-saving shower head.
  • When you have a shower, plug the tub. Use the water you collect for handwashing laundry. (See the next suggestion!)
  • If you do use a dishwasher, run it only when it’s completely full – this can save you 1000 gallons per month.
  • If you drop a tray of ice cubes, pop them into a pet dish or into your potted plants.
  • When washing your hands, dip them in a basin of water, lather up, then rinse under running water. Running water uses up to 4 gallons per minute.
  • Upgrade your faucets with inexpensive aerators with flow restrictors.
  • Use a nozzle on your hose so that you are only putting water where you want it, not spraying it uselessly as you walk to the garden.
  • Repair leaks. At the rate of one drip per second, that adds up to 5 gallons per day…literally down the drain.
  • If you are buying new items for your home, opt for those which use water more efficiently, like front-loading washing machines and low flush toilets.

This isn’t about bowing to the restrictions of Agenda 21 – this is about adapting to survive in a world where resources may one day not be as readily available as they are today.

What methods do you use to conserve water?  Have you considered how to make limited water meet all of your needs if the current crisis continues?

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Having an adequate year-round source of water (preferably a spring or artisan well not requiring electric) on your property would be at the top my ‘survival retreat criteria’. But even with that life, actually getting the water could be exhausting.

    Everyone knows that at 8 lbs. per gallon water is heavy. Stop and think about the reality of having to carry it. With a little ingenuity, many locations would lend themselves to a 3-season gravity-feed water system to your home and garden areas.

  • I live in a little stone building built in 1910 with four apartments.

    I pay for city water in this small town.

    In January I compared my water use with another single lady downstairs. My bill is the minimum you can pay at $65.10 for 3 months. The other lady paid $85.00.

    Even if I use less water, I will still have to pay $65.10. It takes away the incentive, but I still work at using less.

    I do laundry with a laundry plunger and hang it up to dry. I use The Breathing Washer.

    I hate to rush my shower. I turn on the shower to wash my face and hair quickly. Then I put hot water in a small bucket or basin to suds me up with and turn off the shower while I am scrubbing my glorious little 5’1″ body :). Then turn the shower back on to rinse.

  • The truth be known, I love my house…because I really love love love my well! Close family and friends know that this is not an exaggeration.

    One of the main reasons people have been living healthier lives is due to clean, fresh water. When our water is limited, morbidity increases.

    While the CA drought is looming, aren’t the Chinese taking away shiploads of water from…is it Lake Michigan? Isn’t fracking continuing in the face of the reality of how badly it impacts our water supply? How can a chemical plant be allowed to be situated above a river? Change the way we live? Coincidence?

    My FIL worked in the back office of a brokerage house. He still keeps up with the stock market. He sent us an article (from some investment publication he subscribes to) relating how water will be the next big investment in stocks. That was several years ago.

    Water is life! Water is unique! The science of water is really cool!

    Frequently washing your hands with soap and water helps prevent getting illnesses such as colds and flu and maybe more. I am not keen on the sanitizers.

    With a wringer washer, the skilled homemaker would first wash the whites, wring them out set aside, wash the medium colors, wring and set aside, and wash the darks and lastly the rags, wring and set aside. Rinsing would be in the same order. I am not certain how clean things would get when last to use the water, but possibly a longer agitation would be in order. According to one historian, clothes can be washed in plain water and 99% of the clothes will be clean that way. How the dirt from previous washes affects the cleanliness of the next load(s),is a good question.

    A long time ago, we put flow restrictors on the showers.
    We tried navy showers. They did not work for us! Instead, we decided to take sink baths. This reduced the amount of showers we took. This was really done for time management, but it works rather well, and reduced the amount of water used, that for us, translates into electric costs. Washing with a “bowl” of water was something that the British government encouraged, as it saved fuel and water during WW2.

    “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” Did not work for us. We used this method during a looong term “experiment.” There was a lot of lime build up and cleaning required using extreme measures and much work. I am wondering if a good splash of vinegar could be used between flushings? We have reduced water toilets. I am taking a rest with this one.

    During WW2 in Great Britain, the government pamphlets encouraged steam cookers. The ones with many layers. I do not have a steamer. If I make pasta, I will pour the water into the colander that sits over a pot that has the frozen veggies. The vegetables are hot and “cooked.”

    There are a lot of other things we do that also reduce water usage, but the list above is very comprehensive.

    Daisy, what are your favorite water saving measures?

    • It is actually the Nestle Corporation that is pumping millions of gallons of water out of Michigan a day. Not out of the Lakes directly but out of the ground, stealing away water that fills river and streams and the Great Lakes. This has been going on for years. They get the water practically for free. The water is sold by Nestle to China and other countries (so it isn’t even recycled back into our ground). We had local protests in the counties where they were going to set up shop and we lost every time. It was in the hands of local officials and they welcomed the bottled water companies with open arms 🙁 .

      Our government seems to put corporate interests above ours. I think stopping the theft of our water would be the best water saving plan of all.

  • A couple of years ago, our well went dry due to the drought in Texas. We dug another one and it went dry as well. During this trying time, we put in a system of water storage tanks and hauled in water to fill them. The wells are back and so now we fill the tanks, usually once a week, and then turn off the well.

    While we were conserving water I called the manufacturer of my washing machine to find out how many gallons a full load required. It didn’t tell me in the owner’s manual. They had no idea. I did find that the dishwasher took 6 gallons to run, so I did run it, but only every other day. I went to the laundromat in town for washing clothes.

    We kept bowls in every sink in the house. When we washed our hands, or produce or whatever, we then poured the water we caught in the bowls into a bucket and when that bucket was full, we used it to flush the toilets. Bath water was very minimal and we scooped that into the buckets as well. Full bathing was limited to every other day. On the off days, it was a sponge bath only.

    It took a conscious effort to do all this, but it was necessary. We have been much more mindful of our water use since then.

    • “I went to the laundromat in town for washing clothes.” This doesn’t conserve water. It actually will use more because commercial washers are not as efficient as home models. You also are paying more per gallon at a laundromat than for home use.

  • I do have a dishwasher which is ONLY run when full, which like 3 times every 2 weeks (just the 2 of us now). Sometimes this means taking out a couple of dinner plates to wash by hand though. For hand washing the remainder that doesn’t go into the dishwasher…I have reduced the amount of water I put into the sink & have found it stills works great.
    We don’t rinse with running water…. we fill one sink less than 1/2 way with water and thats all.

    I don’t wash my car on a regular basis…although on occasion… maybe 2 x yr

    We’re big on saving water (myself more than hubby), making sure not to do a laundry load unless it’s a full load.

    I take “Military” showers and have become use to them. I don’t just let the taps run, I get only the water needed and turn them off. My latest kick is taking “cool” water showers (not cold), they feel great and I still get cleaned head to toe. Plus I find my skin is no longer dry, or itchy. Bonus is that my hair is softer & shinier too.

    I still need to get a couple of pails to put in the tub to catch the water to use for the toilet or for the garden though.
    I also need to get a pail for the kitchen to use in the garden. At present I have a small one, but I need a larger one.

    When brushing my teeth I keep 2 plastic cups, one for dipping my brush into and one for rinsing.

    We haven’t “watered” our lawns for years now…the grass always grows back as nature intended.

    When finished mopping floors etc… the bucket of water is saved and placed in the bathroom to use for the next flush.

    Reuse cooking water: we use cooled water from cooking our foods to water my indoor plants & for the veggie garden. I also use this water for homemade making soups or for making meat or veggie stock

    The garden: We have a 250 gallon container to store rain water for use in the garden; & as said above: kitchen water is used to help water the garden as well. We also use our cut grass as mulch in the garden to cut down on weeds and water use. And have a nozzle type sprayer on the end, I water the garden in the early morning or early evening myself rather than using a sprinkler.

    Hubby & I both tried the brown/yellow method for the toliet, but we found we just couldn’t do it completely (too gross for us). So now we flush the brown …. let the yellow sit until we find it too gross then flush. We have a dual flush toilet as well.

    We have 2 wells, one is outside and drains into the one in the basement … when full its flushed through the pipes to the backyard. I’m going to talk to hubby to see how we can hook it up for the toilet and the washer at least. We do have a cistern in the basement, but its extremely old and in need of being replaced (cannot afford that right now)

    We’ve had aerators with flow restrictors on all our taps for years, and a low flow type shower as well.

    We also put only a small amount of water into the sink to wash our hands (I’ll find a small bowl to use instead). Also I noticed you said to rinse hands under running water……. thats a waste ! Another small with a small amount of water or even a squeeze bottle with water will rinse well without wasting so much

  • I’m typing this while my shower runs blazing hot water for no reason, I water my lawn constantly in the summer, do laundry almost every day, leave the hose running while washing my cars, flush at least 3 times when going # 2 (no clogs for this guy) and use the dishwasher AFTER washing the dishes by hand.

    Did I mention that I shave and brush my teeth with the bathroom sink flowing at full blast?

    I think I’ll go flush my toilet 10 times for no reason now before jumping in that hot shower.

    • Congratulations. This sounds like an EXCELLENT display of common sense. I’m sure you’ll do really well when water is truly in short supply.

    • Water Guy, you need to read Blue Covenant by Maude Barlow and Full Planet, Empty Plates by Lester R Brown. You may relish in your sarcastic comment now but in our lifetimes water will become more expensive than gasoline…we are running out, my friend. Try to be a little less obtuse….ignorance is very costly.

  • i agree with all of the above except that using the water from your shower to wash clothes is just plain gross. not only is it dirty but the type of soap scum from soap and hair products will make clothes dingy. one thing that i do to conserve water is to use the water left at the bottom of water glasses to water the houseplants. my family members always leave a small amount of water in the bottom of their glasses. i just pour it all into one glass and then water every morning.

  • speaking of houseplants, drop your morning eggshells into that glass of leftover water. after a few hours, discard the shells and water the plants. they love the calcium.

  • Gray water was a hot topic in the late 80’s and 90’s. Now, not so much, and the reason is that testing showed that shower, kitchen, and laundry water did have coliform bacteria in it. And when stored, the amount grew. So it was not recommended for garden watering, cleaning, or plants.

  • these are interesting ideas….never really had to think about not having water due to being on municipal system…UNTIL hubby and I moved to nc and had well/septic. wasnt easy getting used to it, water pressure would drop, had to be care w/septic – what went in, etc.; didnt have a disposal – what to do with that stuff, and so on. we had a fire – well took care of the water and elect pump real quick! no water til electric was turned back on….had to get water from neighbors hose to flush toilet and buckets for other stuff. lesson learned…ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP! now I stock bottled, have jugs, have filter, have saltwater pool and way to filter it for use, well (just need to figure how to draw from when no electric, IF its got water), and so on. we lived in wv on well/septic…same situations….still learning other ways.

    so any other ideas are welcome, things are getting worse out there…..he wont get rain barrels, doesnt want heavy water jugs stored in garage, and so forth, so left with bottled water and jugs (regular sizes). silly…..

  • Of note, many of these come from the 1970s. Bricks in the toilet? Maybe if you have one from the Nixon Administration. There isn’t room in a modern toilet. Faucets and showerheads put out two gallons a minute, max. Dishwashers made in the past decade have to use under five gallons a load.

    I’m all for saving water, but I hate using scare tactics and outdated information.

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