Empty Milk Jugs to Store Water?

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Is this a good idea for storing extra water? When 1 gal milk jugs are empty (1)rinse out thrououghly, (2) wash thrououghly with antibacterial soap and warm water and rinse, (3) put in a tablespoon of bleach and warm water and let stand for 5 minutes, (4) empty jug and let air dry, (5) set aside in plastic garbage bag, (6) last week of December 1999 put several drops of bleach in and fill with water. We go through 3-4 gals a week, and can accumulate many empty jugs between now and December 1999 in plastic garbage bags and store out of signt. Query if the water stored this way is safe to drink, or safe for other purposes such as washing hands or brushing teeth

-- don miehls (pretzel610@aol.com), March 19, 1999


Milk jugs are seriously biodegradable. This means they fall apart in a while. Two liter soda containers are recommended for storage of water. Yes, add some bleach.

-- David Holladay (davidh@brailleplanet.org), March 19, 1999.

I was told that milk jugs are not good for storing water because they are environmentaly friendly and would not last. I have been using my empty 2 liter bottles with 4-5 drops of bleach in each one. The plastic is made stronger and they store very easily.

-- shellie (shellie01@hotmail.com), March 19, 1999.

WoW! David, you are quick. Guess you beat me to it.

-- shellie (shellie01@hotmail.com), March 19, 1999.

You should be just fine so long as you don't store them for more than a couple months. I've used milk jugs for drinking water in my camper for years. They do deterioate after a certain period of time. But for the short duration, they will be just fine. I'm saving all containers large and small and will do just as you're doing. Clean them and fill them up come December. Most of mine will be used for cleaning purposes though as I've purchased various sized bags from www.watertanks.com and also have a dozen or more 55gal food grade barrels for my main supply of drinking water. Good luck.

-- brett (brett45@bigfoot.com), March 19, 1999.

Don, Your post makes sense.

You may wish to make one change in your plans.

There may be too many folks waiting until December.

Are your area pumping systems capable of greatly increased demand?

Could water pressure drop to about nothing way ahead of year end?

Could taps go dry by say November? Why not store earlier and refresh a few jugs at a time as the weeks progress?

Is it possible that you may need to count on using some of your reserves before year end?

Why not be premature with all of your plans?

Best wishes,

-- Watchful (seethesea@msn.com), March 19, 1999.

Oh and yea it is safe to drink. Taste is kinda flat though. Be sure to store lots of Kool-Aid or other drink mixes to help on taste. Baking soda is cheap and cleans teeth well when toothpaste is not available. And maybe stock up on some of that waterless antibacterial hand cleaner as well to save on your water supply.

-- shellie (shellie01@hotmail.com), March 19, 1999.

While milk containers are not recommended for long term storage of water, if you are going to rotate stock, and keep bottles in the dark, they will do for the short term. Keeping them in a cool dark location will minimize the degeneration. Please sterilize well.

Better for long term storage are commericial juice bottles...quart, half gallon and gallon plastic bottles...They use different plastic for those...

-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), March 19, 1999.

I've been told that milk jugs can be a problem with formaldahyde leaching into the water. Have no idea if that is true, but getting used to dealing with information I can't be sure of.

-- Steve Hartzler (s.hartzler@usa.net), March 19, 1999.

I read that you should never use empty plastic milk containers to store water. The milk-fat molecules actually bond with the plastic and cannot be rinsed or bleached out, and will cause bacterial growth in water stored.

-- mabel (mabel_louise@yahoo.com), March 19, 1999.

I heard somewhere (maybe on this forum) that milk jugs retain milkfat in the pores of the plastic. I don't know if it's true.

I do know that we fill milk jugs with water & hang them as weights on our pool cover (winters are kinda windy around here) they survive extreme conditions, so if they are sanitary I don't see a reason why they couldn't be included with other alternative containers.

It does seem to be easier to find creative places to stash two litre bottles though.

-- Deborah (infowars@yahoo.com), March 19, 1999.

Also to remember is that you need to store non-potable water,..that which you use for flushing, washing clothes and bathing. If you must use milk containers, earmark them for non-potable, or only use for 2 months storage after hefty sterilization. Go to the local bottled water supplier and inquire about purchasing 5 gallon bottles...swap meets are another source of this size of water bottles. Pop bottles, the 2 liter variety are a good way to store...

Please, new posters,...go to the main forum page and review the archived threads. There is much good information to be had there about food and water storage.

-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), March 19, 1999.

Mabel is right! The little "bumps" on your milk jugs help it to breakdown because this plastic is bio-degradeable. Because of this, a milk jug cannot be thoroughly cleaned out. Some bacteria will stay and grow. It is not even recommended to use this water for flushing the toilet or anything. You will spread bacteria! I threw out all my plastic milk jugs that I was previously storing and am only saving plastic pop bottles and juice bottles. If you want gallon milk jugs, buy bottled water and clean those out! Good luck Mary

-- Mary Howe (doesnotmatter@thistime.com), March 20, 1999.

Well, I wouldn't worry about spreading bacteria into a toilet...

Nor is there realistically going to be a "water pressure" problem likely near the end of Dec - the massive area covered by the water systems nationally (worldwide) and the relatively slow rate of filling means that what little is stored into potable and "flush" storage containers - even if everybody does in one 2 hour period on New Year's Eve is very very small compared to amount of people normally taking a shower, washing dishes, and flushing the toilets each morning.

You only see instances of "user impact" during exceptional "pin-point" minutes affecting milions of people simultaneously - such as the classic "toilet flush after the first time out in the Super Bowl". Then there are measureable water pressure surges and drops.

Y2K drops prior to Jan 01? Nothing to worry about.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), March 20, 1999.

We've stored water in empty plastic milk jugs and have never had a problem. We wash them clean, fill, cap and store in a dark place. That's it. No big deal. Never noticed any problems. (Our pipes sometimes freeze in winter so we store water in advance to get us thru til we thaw them out....)

-- anita (hillsidefarm@drbs.com), March 20, 1999.

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