Over some time I have accumulated several plastic milk jugs and I'm considering using them to store water in case of an emergency. I've rinsed them out and left them to dry, but should I worry about cleaning them further? Should I use dish soap/scrub brushes? Will the cleaned jugs be sealed tightly enough to prevent the water from becoming contaminated?

  • I'm not sure about this usage but even bottled water has an "expiration" date. How long are you planning to keep it?
    – Catija
    Feb 28, 2016 at 2:40
  • @Catija as long as I can. I know that water storage should be changed out every so often; I think every few months or so.
    – intcreator
    Feb 28, 2016 at 3:09
  • The date on bottled water is generally a "best before" rather than a "use by" date, probably in case it picks up flavour from the plastic. Home-bottled water may be a different matter.
    – Chris H
    Feb 28, 2016 at 8:01
  • If the water has sufficient chlorine in it, you can get away with just storing it as-is. Ozonated water has no long-term anti-microbial properties, so you'll want to add a few drops (1 per L, so about 4 per gallon). There's plenty of advice online from various 'prepper' sites. (I just looked it up two days ago as I have 5gal jerry cans that I use for transporting water, and I thought I'd use them for storage 'til the next time I needed them).
    – Joe
    Feb 29, 2016 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


Cleaned jugs are, but ones that are only rinsed aren't. After the milk is gone, wash the inside of the jug with hot water and anti-bacterial soap. Rinse with super-purified or distilled water to avoid the risk of re-introducing contaminants to the inside of the jug. I store the filled bottles in my cold room for six months, then use the water and replace my stores.

  • 1
    What is the advantage of rinsing with purified or distilled water?
    – intcreator
    Feb 28, 2016 at 5:51
  • In fact you're better off rinsing thoroughly with tap water after sterilising (because of the chlorine). If your tap water isn't trustworthy then purified water might make sense.
    – Chris H
    Feb 28, 2016 at 7:56
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    @ChrisH if my tap water wasn't trustworthy I'd probably just buy bottled water and store that :)
    – intcreator
    Feb 28, 2016 at 17:19
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    @brandaemon yes, though in some countries people have access to unsafe piped water and use domestic purifiers.
    – Chris H
    Feb 28, 2016 at 18:09
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    @brandaemon -- Sorry about that. I wasn;t thinking. For some reason, I assumed you would be storing purified water as opposed to tap water, because I can't store my tap water. I have a surface well, so the water periodically picks up natural contaminants from leaves, other forest debris, or even airborne algae spores getting in through the venting. I rinse with purified or distilled water because if I rinsed with tap water, I could potentially just be re-introducing contaminants.
    – Shalryn
    Feb 29, 2016 at 16:10

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