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Water saving tip #3

By James Lombard   (2016-02-25)

Close the tap while brushing your teeth

The average person brushes their teeth 2 to 3 times a day. It is a task so habitual that it has become automatic: Few people would stop to think about the steps they take in brushing their teeth and are probably doing it the same way they have been since childhood. Today’s tip is aimed at making the reader mindful of how much water they use for this part of their daily routine.

Let’s compare three ways of brushing: 1) leaving the tap running during the entire process; 2) using running tap water only for wetting your brush and rinsing your mouth; and 3) filling a glass with water before brushing.

I used a stopwatch to time my own brushing routine, which came to 1 minute 20 seconds, and I used a measuring jug to capture the water as I brushed. 

For the the first two cases I captured 2 litres and 450 ml of water, respectively, and by using a half-filled glass I only used 125 ml of water. If a person brushes three times a day, this comes down to 2300 L, 500 L and 137 L per year for the three respective cases, per member of the household.

Individual brushing times may differ and different faucets have different flow rates, but this already gives a sobering indication of how much water can be saved by getting in the simple habit of filling a glass with water before brushing your teeth.