The Washington Post
Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar

  Tips for Conserving Water

Friday, August 6, 1999

Following are water conservation tips submitted by readers.

Laundry | Kitchen | Bathroom | Home | Yard | Other

Daily Conservation
More than 70 percent of indoor water use occurs in the bathroom, and more than 20 percent occurs in the kitchen and laundry room. How some of this water can be conserved:
  Inefficient Use (Gallons) Efficient Use (Gallons)
Shower Older style showerhead, 8 minutes 24-40 2-gallon -per-minute low flow showerhead, 5 minutes 10
Brushing teeth Tap running 2-5 Wet brush, rinse 0.125
Bathtub Full tub 36 Minimal water level 10
Shaving Tap running 5-15 Tap off, quick rinse 2
Washing dishes Tap running 25 Tap off, while washing, sink half full, with rinse bowl 5
Washing hands/face Tap running 2-3 Tap off while washing 0.25
Toilet flushing Older style tank 5-7 Ultra low-flush toilet 1.6
Washing machine Older style 40 Efficient 25
Automatic dishwasher Full cycle 25 Short cycle 12
Be sure to check faucets and toilets for leaks. A dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons of water a day; a leaking toilet can waste 200 gallons a day.

Fill a container with washer rinse water to pre-wash items.
– Madison Moore

Reverse the sheets from bottom to top to get an extra week's wear.
– Jane Jacksteit
Havre de Grace, Md.

Wear clothes more often between washings.
– Jackie Martyn

Collect the water from the last washer rinse cycle to water plants, bushes, trees, etc.
– Helen Wilson

Use side loading washing machines, which use significantly less water and electricity.
– Anthony D. Riker
Silver Spring, Md.


Use the melted ice from your ice chest to water your plants.
– Steve Gibson

Use alternative cooking methods that save water, such as steaming and stir-frying vegetables instead of boiling.
– Karin K. Hedberg

Wash dishes by hand, or if you need the dishwasher, use the light cycle.
– T. Joseph

Use paper plates and cups and plastic spoons so you don't have to wash them.
– V. Tranita
Hyattsville, Md.

Instead of using running water for dishes, use one sink of water to wash, another to rinse.
– Beth Hayden

Use water collected during washing dishes or food – or after baths – for your outdoor watering needs.
– Colleen Finn

Increase tequila/lime juice ratio in margaritas.
– Anonymous

Drink beer instead – imported of course so it doesn't come from our water supply.
– Chris

Buy bottled drinking water.
– Diane Ruesch

Fill a glass with store-bought ice, let it melt and drink it.
– Misti Maynard


Take a quick bath using only two inches of water instead of running the shower for five minutes.
– Sally Connolly

Turn off the water while shaving and brushing your teeth.
– Beth Hayden

Use baby wipes as an alternative to hand washing.
– Pat and Clyde Reneman

Put a little Pine-Sol in the toilet and you can urinate six to nine times before it needs flushing. Put the tissue you use in the trash can.
– Clydean Jackson

Quit taking showers and start taking baths. Use the bath water to wash your auto, the dog and other people.
– William Sanders

Buy a valve for about $2 at any home center that allows you to shut off the water while lathering, shampooing, etc. and turn the water back on to rinse without having to readjust the water temperature.
– N. Christensen

Reduce the flow of the water by partially closing the valves that are under each bathroom sink.
– Harry Singh

Put sand in a bottle, cap it and put it in your toilet tank.
– J.L. in D.C.

One of the best ways to save water is to shower with a friend.
– Michael Johnsen

Use this toilet flushing rule: "If it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down."
– Lara Boeck
Silver Spring, Md.

Cut shower time by shaving your legs with shaving cream beforehand.
– RW
Anne Arundel County

Take sponge or bucket baths.
– Dawn Anuszkiewicz


Collect condensation water from an air conditioner and use it to water plants.
– Wayne Steinhilber

Use water from your dehumidifiers to water plants.
– Ett McAtee

Try creating a greenhouse for outdoor plants. Place a plastic bag over your plants to catch vapor, which will then trickle down the bag and into the ground, keeping the soil moist.
– Matt Zappone


Place rain barrels at downspouts to collect rainfall. Use it to water your garden.
– John Middendorf

Remove fine shredded bark mulch, which retains water. Give the ground around plants a good soaking and then cover the ground with plastic or replace the mulch to prevent evaporation.
– Beth Hayden

Water outdoor plants directly at soil level, not overhead. Water early in the morning or late in the evening. Set lawn mowers to highest setting to help reduce ground evaporation.
– Karin K. Hedberg

Use the old water from your fish tank to water plants.
– Mary Cogan
Silver Spring, Md.

Water the prized possessions in your garden and let the rest go.
– Brenda Jones

Leave several old towels outside on the lawn overnight. Early the next morning, drag them across the grass to absorb the dew; then use them to clean off vehicles or any other item in lieu of washing with running water.
Steve Marshall and E.L. Brown

Pull all weeds in garden so they don't suck up the water that's needed by vegetables or other plants.
– Denise A. Bell


Plant drought-tolerant native perennials, trees, grasses and shrubs.
– Gause

Pile six to eight inches of straw on your garden. It keeps the roots cool and conserves moisture.
– Sharon Nelton

Exercise less so you sweat less and need to drink water and shower less often.
– Sharon Nelton

When it starts raining, quickly scrub down your car and let the rain rinse it off.
– Paige Schumaker

Reject water refills at restaurants when you don't need one.
– Kai Bates

Special Report: The Drought of '99

© 1999 Washington Post Newsweek Interactive

Back to the top

Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar