Is Toilet Water Clean to Drink?

Is toilet water clean and safe enough to drink? Of course us humans would probably never dream sipping on water from the loo unless it was a life or death hydration situation but our pets seem to prefer that fresh water straight from the porcelain bowl. 

Here’s a scenario all pet owners have probably come across at some point. You pop into use the bathroom and your dog or cat has their head in the bowl and is using the commode as their personal drinking fountain. 

White toilet in bathroom with white tile.

Is toilet water toxic?

Even in the cleanest of houses, the toilet is still a hotbed of bacterial activity rife with germs that could make you or your pet sick. Stagnant, bacteria-filled water can lead to serious cross-species infections like E. coli and Giardia.

Your water supply line to your toilet is the same water going to your kitchen sink. You only have one supply line going into your house (99 % of the time). So yes it is clean water in your toilet flush tank. If you look inside your toilet tank you will see a physical break between your fill valve and your tank water. Even though you can see it normally there is a physical gap between the tank water and the bowl till you flush the toilet.

The water coming into the holding tank is as clean as your city delivers it right to your kitchen tap. However the cleanliness of your tank reservoir determines how good the water stays pretty quickly

The water running to the toilet is usually every bit as clean as the water running to most other fixtures, at least until it enters the toilet. So does that mean you can drink toilet water? Not so fast.

Toilet water is clean as drinking water when it goes to the tank; then most probably it is dirty after staying in the tank for hours; finally, it is immediately dirty after flushing to the bowl in contact with unhealthy organisms. So toilet water is not like tap water, it is not drinkable.

Is the water in the bowl clean ? There is always going to be some residue germs left in your bowl from using it but for the most part it is clean water.

Generally speaking, the water running to the toilet bowl is regular water from the soft water system. That means that it’s the same water that goes to the bathroom sink, shower/tub, laundry, dishwasher, and most other things in the house/building.

Occasionally, water running to the toilet will be what is called nonpotable, or “gray”. This means that water that is not suitable for some things, like, for example, a hand sink or for washing dishes, is run to the toilet. (Water doesn’t have to be clean to flush a toilet, after all)

English bulldog standing on grass looking up at the camera.

Concerns about pets drinking toilet water

By far the biggest safety concern for household pets is a lingering chemical presence from cleaning products and disinfectants. The chemicals used to clean toilets are not meant to be ingested. Whether you use cleaning sprays, gels, discs or tablets that clip onto the bowl, there could be reason for concern.

The chemicals in these cleaners are spread into the water each time the water runs. With every flush, the chemicals are released into the bowl and become less potent. However, they can still cause problems for your pet.

The best, most effective way to prevent your pet from drinking harmful water from the toilet is to consistently keep the toilet seat down. If your dog or cat can’t access the bowl, it’s far more difficult to drink from it and become ill.

It’s also important to keep in mind, especially around the holidays, that guests in your home may not be in the habit of putting the seat down.

In cases when you have company over, try to keep the bathroom door closed or use a pet-friendly toilet bowl cleaner. This will free you from being on pet patrol and allow you to enjoy a worry-free evening with friends and family.

Black and white Newfoundland puppy sitting on grass looking up at the camera.
Why do dogs drink toilet water?

So, your dog is essentially choosing clean, flowing water over stagnant, room-temperature water. Drinking from the toilet bowl is often a concern for pet parents due to the fact that we use chemicals to clean the toilet bowl.

Why do cats like toilet bowl water?

Toilet bowl water is very attractive for most cats. The porcelain of the bowl keeps the water cooler longer than the plastic, metal, or glass water bowls we usually serve this elixir of life in. Cats love cool water.

What happens if my dog drinks blue toilet water?

Most dogs are going to be perfectly fine after drinking toilet water, but there are some exceptions. If you want to know whether your dog needs to see a vet, you need to know what you’ve been using to clean your toilet. If your pet shows any signs of distress, call the vet immediately. Common reactions include mild vomiting or diarrhea. You may also try diluting effects with clean water or milk, but as in other cases, but be sure to contact your vet if the symptoms don’t improve.

What happens if a pet drinks other toilet cleaners?

Most toilet cleaners are relatively safe. They are very diluted, which means that your pet isn’t going to ingest a lot of it. The best thing you can do is look at the label for the toilet cleaner and call the 24/7 poison control line. If your pet seems to be in distress (throwing up, panting, or otherwise acting unusual), then you should call your vet (or an emergency vet) for advice. But if your pup seems fine and the toilet cleaner doesn’t appear to be toxic, you should be okay.

What happens if you put antifreeze in your toilet?

Some pet owners use antifreeze in their toilets during winter, which can also produce blue toilet water. Antifreeze appeals to pets because antifreeze usually tastes sweet. If your pet has consumed antifreeze, you need to get it to the vet right away. Antifreeze is very dangerous to both dogs and cats. If you use antifreeze in your toilets, you should always keep the toilet lid closed, and the bathroom door closed.

What happens if a pet drinks antifreeze?

Many pets have been lost to antifreeze because, to them, it’s delicious. Other solutions are safer for those concerned about the potential freezing of their toilet lines — such as simply making sure that the toilet is flushed at intervals to keep the water moving in the pipes. Likewise, if your pet has a preference for drinking from toilets, you should be cautious when taking them to the homes of others. Others might have antifreeze or other potentially harmful chemicals in their toilet bowls that could be potentially dangerous.

Adrienne Carrie Hubbard
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