Has your water bill been soaring lately? It used to feel like my family’s water use doubled every year. Then a drought hit and area schools began educating students about water conservation. That gave me the perfect chance to get the kids on board with the idea at home, too.
From using less water doing cleaning or bathing to tips that will get your family on board with the idea, I’m sharing here what worked in our home. We cut our water bill almost by half and even though the drought is long over, our water use has never soared again.
Use Less Water Washing the Dishes
Of course clean dishes are important, but washing them can also be one of our home’s biggest water uses. To cut down on how much water you use, while still getting your dishes scrupulously clean:
Skip the pre-rinse
I grew up having to rinse dishes almost clean before adding them to the dishwasher. That’s a thing of the past. Modern dishwashers have pre-rinse cycles and food filters that eliminate pre-rinse requirements.
Plus, skipping the rinse actually leads to cleaner dishes! Why? Because most detergents contain enzymes are need food particles to activate their cleaning power. So, let your dishwasher do its job—it’s got this!
Fully load the dishwasher
Have you seen the ad that says it costs the same to run half-loads? It’s true but there’s a catch. Your dishwasher uses the same amount of water whether it’s half-full or packed.
So running two half-loads uses just as much water as running two full loads. Want to save water? Hold off until your dishwasher is full.
Use a wash bowl
Washing dishes by hand? Try a “washing-up bowl” like the British do. Fill it with soapy water, wash your dishes, then use the water for your garden—dish soap is plant-friendly.
Rinse with a fresh bowl of water and use that in the garden too. You’ll clean your dishes with just two bowls of water instead of gallons!
Get rid of most glasses
Tired of washing a mountain of glasses and water bottles every day, thanks to your kids grabbing a new one for each drink? I’ve been there. Me, too. I reduced how many we have to one glass and water bottle per person, with a few extras stashed for guests.
Now, my family knows they get one glass and water bottle to use each day, so they’d better rinse and refill it. Voila, we use less water because I don’t have to wash as many dishes.
Stop soaking pans
We’ve all done the soak, scrub, soak again, scrub again thing with stubborn food bits on pans. Here’s a water-saving trick: boil a little soapy water or vinegar in the pan.
Then, turn off the heat, let it cool slightly, and scrape away the loosened mess with a non-metal spatula. You’ll save water and elbow-grease.
Use Less Water Cleaning
Cleaning is another water-intensive activity in many homes, and it usually comes down to doing it the way we were taught growing up. But just as times have changed, so have cleaning methods and products. Here’s are some ideas to cut down on how much water you use when cleaning your home.
- Spray bottle cleaning: Switch to homemade cleaning products. Less rinsing, more saving! Use a spray bottle of water and a microfiber cloth for a quick rinse.
- Dry mop first: Avoid streaks and save water. Vacuum or dry mop before wet mopping. Try my no-rinse homemade floor cleaner for even better results.
- Pick the bucket: Clean garden tools and outdoor furniture with a bucket, not a hose. Bonus: eco-friendly cleaners mean you can use leftover water for plants.
- Pitcher rinse: Save water in the shower. Use a pitcher to rinse walls instead of running water. It’s efficient and perfect for showers without handheld sprayers.
- Go to the car wash: They often have water reclamation systems. This means less water waste than washing your car at home.
Many car washes offer self-serve bays where you can clean things area rugs, BBQ grills, and outdoor furniture. By utilizing their water reclamation systems, you end up using less water overall – a win for both your cleaning tasks and the environment!
Conserving Water In The Bathroom
Try a shower alarm
My kids’ showers would sometimes run 30 minutes. So, I hung a waterproof clock in their shower. As long as they finished in 10 minutes or less, I kept my mouth shut. Our water use dropped almost overnight.
Dye-test toilets for leaks
A faulty toilet flapper lets water silently pass from the tank to the bowl, causing the tank to refill. It’s like having a faucet running nonstop, but quietly. So, every month or two, wipe the flapper with a microfiber cloth to remove residue that can keep it from sealing well.
To check your toilet flapper’s seal, add a drop or two of food coloring to the tank and let it sit overnight without flushing. If you find colorful water in the bowl by morning, it’s time for a new one. Replacing toilet flappers is an easy and inexpensive DIY project I’ve done every toilet in my home at least once.
Reduce the flush
Upgrading to a dual-flush toilet seemed like a great idea for saving water, but honestly, I wasn’t a fan. So, I found a simple hack to reduce our toilet’s water usage. I popped a tightly sealed, gravel-filled 1-liter bottle into the tank.
This trick displaces just enough water to cut down on each flush, while still ensuring a thorough rinse. And if DIY isn’t your thing, there are also handy water-saving bags designed specifically to hang inside your tank.
Reduce Water Use Doing Laundry
Time to let go of the guilt over that pile of barely worn clothes on “The Chair” in your bedroom. It’s not clothing clutter, it’s an unplanned water-saving strategy. Here are a few more ways to cut back on how much water you use doing laundry.
In times past, people had only a few outfits and didn’t wash them after every wear. Today, we have the luxury of home laundry (and deodorant!), but that doesn’t mean we need to launder everything after one use. To save water by doing less laundry, re-wear items that don’t touch your skin directly.
Target just the dirty spots
Anyone else feel like their shirt demands a taste of whatever they’re eating or drinking? I used to go through two, sometimes three shirts a day which adds up to a huge laundry pile and a lot of water used. All that changed when I got in the habit of spot treating food spills on my clothes instead.
Thanks to the need to wash my swimsuits every day after doing laps, I stumbled into a great way to save water when hand-washing other delicate items like bras, tights, and lingerie.
Instead of adding things to the pile, keep them when you hop in the shower, soap up and rinse, then hang them to dry. It’s two types of cleaning using just enough water for one.
Set wash reminders
We have all washed a load of clothes and forgot about it until we get a whiff of that awful mildewed laundry smell. It happened so often for me (thanks, ADHD) that now I set a timer to remind me. Specifically, my phone timer.
I’ll ignore the microwave, fridge, oven, and doorbell’s noise but my phone? Never. That was a super simple way to start using less water while saving myself some time, too.