Informational Guide

Is Toilet Water Clean Or Dirty?

by Andrew

We have all faced the classic dilemmas – a furry friend drinking from the porcelain throne, a child's toy gone swimming, a splash on your leg from a vigorous flush. When we must touch toilet water, we can't help but wonder, 'is toilet water clean'? We dive into the facts below. 

How clean is toilet water? Technically, the water in your toilet tank, which enters your bowl once you flush, is clean. It is as clean as your shower and tap water as it is from the same source.  

This depends slightly on where your water comes from and how clean your water tank is, but it is as clean as shower water. Once your toilet flushes, some of the water from the tank moves into your bowl to replace the old water. It is here that the toilet water becomes hazardous for humans to drink. 

The toilet lining and bowl itself are home to thousands of bacteria, even with regular cleaning and flushing. Once the fresh water enters the bowl, a variety of potentially dangerous bacteria enter the water. Because of this, we do not recommend drinking toilet bowl water, but you can briefly touch it with uninjured hands, provided you thoroughly disinfect the area.  

Open wounds and eyes or mouths should not touch toilet water as those are entry points for dangerous bacteria that could make you ill; if this does happen, thoroughly disinfect the area, and use eye or mouth rinses. According to the ASPCA, it is common for pets to drink the water, but cleaning products in your toilet could pose a threat to your furry friend's health. 

Overall, toilet water should stay in the toilet; regularly cleaning and flushing your toilet can help keep it clean, but bacteria is almost impossible to completely eradicate from porcelain thrones. 

white toilet bowl

What Germs Are Present In Toilet Water? 

When considering the age-old question of 'how dirty is toilet water?', people tend to wonder what bacteria lurk beneath the lid. After all, human waste is not sanitary, and bacteria easily breed and spread in such damp conditions, even with cleaning. Depending on a variety of factors, you could have a variety of potentially dangerous and unpleasant bacteria in your toilet, including: 

  • Shigella:
    This bacterium can cause an infection called shigellosis, which involves bloody diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.
  • Staphylococcus:
    There are over 30 strains of this bacteria, and staphylococcus aureus is the most common human pathogen that can create disease.
  • Salmonella:
    According to the CDC, Salmonella causes 1.35 million infections and 26,500 hospitalizations per year. 
  • E. Coli:
    Also known as Escherichia Coli, these bacteria are large and diverse – some are harmless while others can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and other diseases.
  • Clostridium Difficile:
    Also known as C. diff, this bacterium can cause diarrhea and often requires you to take antibiotics.
  • Hepatitis A:
    Hepatitis A is often spread through the fecal matter of infected people and is a common liver infection.

The presence of these bacteria should be minimized with cleaning but can be harmless if you properly sanitize your hands and bathroom. 


Can Toilet Water Make You Sick? 

Is toilet bowl water clean? With the bacteria discussed above, it is easy to be concerned for your health. However, the brief splash or contact of fishing something out should be okay. If you must fish out an object or experience a brief splash from Poseidon, clean the area thoroughly.  

No eyes, mouths, or open wounds should ever come into contact with toilet bowl water; this is because those are open entry points that can allow these harmful bacteria to enter your body and potentially make you ill. If this happens, use mouth or eye rinse on yourself and sanitize the area. Contact your doctor if you are concerned. 

Should You Ever Drink Water From Any Part Of The Toilet? 

Is the water in the toilet tank clean? In emergencies, you may need to resort to unconventional methods to stay safe and hydrated. While it is always preferable to drink fresh water from a tap, you may be in dire straits and trapped in a bathroom. According to the CDC, you could potentially drink water from the tank if it is clear and is not treated with chemicals. This only applies to freshwater sourced water tanks and is not recommended for those who draw from ocean, river, or roof water. 

If you are ever unsure if water is safe to drink, put the water in a heat-safe container and boil it for at least one minute; this should kill any bacteria and make it safe to drink once cool. 

Composting Toilet

Frequently Asked Toilet Water Questions 

Why is the toilet water sometimes yellow? 

Your toilet water may have rust particles from your toilet tank in the water. Try flushing it a few times and cleaning your tank to see if that fixes the issue.

Why is my toilet water sometimes green? 

Green toilet water can happen when your home’s pipes have high amounts of copper that disperse into your tank or bowl. If this is the case, contact a local professional to fix the issue. 

Why is my toilet water sometimes brown? 

Brown water can be caused by a pipe or rust issue, which can be flushed or cleaned away. However, brown water can also be caused by a blocked sewer line that pushes wastewater backward through the line; contact a local professional for help if this is the case. 


Overall, how dirty is toilet bowl water? Toilets are a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria, but the threat can be mitigated with proper cleaning. Be careful when handling toilet water and always sanitize any affected areas.