With properly treated water stored under perfect conditions, you may be able to get away with never rotating your water. However, bacteria, algae, etc. can start to grow in your water making it very unpleasant and unsafe to drink. Store-bought water must be rotated by its expiration date because the plastic used for the containers can break down and/or start to leech chemicals into the water. If you re-use containers be aware that there could be remnants of food/water left in the container that can contaminate the freshwater over time. Even if you are using brand new containers and purified water, there is always the chance that something from the air can get into your containers and cause the water to become contaminated.

How Often to Rotate Water

Properly stored water should be inspected visually every three months to ensure nothing is growing in it. Rotate your water every six months.

Tips to Rotate Less Often

Here are a few things that can help your water storage be good for longer:

  • Store in opaque containers to keep out light (dark green and blue are best)
    • Store in a place that is consistently dark and cool
    • Sterilize any containers you are storing water in before filling
    • Treat your water with special water treatment. The Aquamira Water Treatment combo can treat up to 60 gallons of water and they claim “When used according to instructions, and kept in a sealed container, treated water needs no further treatment for 5 years”.
    • If you have a good water purifier you may choose to avoid rotating and just treat all water when the time comes to use it

What to do With Rotated Water

If you have hundreds of gallons of water stored, use the old water, don’t waste it. Some ideas for using your water are:

  • Lawn and gardens
  • Flush your toilets
  • Laundry
  • Car wash
  • House plants
  • Purify it and use it for drinking/cooking
  • Dog bath

How to Improve Water that Hasn’t Been Rotated

If you haven’t been diligent about rotating your water, all is not lost! Most often the biggest complaint is just the taste of the water. You can improve the taste by pouring the water back and forth between two containers a few times. This will aerate it and improve the taste. It’s also a good idea to store a drink mix like tang, crystal light, Kool-Aid, etc. if you have picky “drinkers”. If you are worried about the safety of your water, you can always boil it to purify it. If you are conserving fuel or need to also filter out any particles, then have a good filter/purifier on hand.