I remember an Indian friend’s another NRI (Non-resident Indian) friend getting kicked out by his father in Kochi (Kerala). I wondered if it was a property matter and I was told it was a “Water Issue”. It turns out this NRI chap was bathing his child with ‘Mineral water’. Infuriated (I am not surprised) the NRI’s father asked him to leave home.
Are you traveling to India and Paranoid about eating and drinking safely? Then read on tips for safe drinking water in India from a tourist’s perspective.
Is it safe to Drink Tap Water In India? NO, it isn’t. Even Indians themselves drink water which has been boiled, filtered or passed through RO (Reverse osmosis (RO)) water purifiers.
I am an Indian born to wanderlust Indian parents. As a kid with my parents and now as an adult with my children, I have visited most of India including remote villages.
Never have I or my children ever had the case of ‘Delhi Belly’ or ‘Diarrhea’ because of drinking water.
We DO NOT BUY PLASTIC BOTTLED WATER as long as there is the availability of filtered or RO water. We do not drink from Tap Waters even at 5-star + Hotels.
There is more to tap water in India than what I have mentioned above and let me try to get you less paranoid about Indian water so that you can have a relaxed vacation in India.
Can you drink water at the Indian Railway Stations?
Many establishments including Indian Railway Platforms, Airports, Malls and Cinema Halls throughout India have water filters or purifiers installed.
If the water filter unit has an algae-looking layer of scum around the taps avoid drinking water from that unit. If the unit looks clean from outside there is a possibility it is clean from inside as well and in that case, the water may be safe to drink.
However, Boiled water, water in resturants and hotels from RO and bottled water is always your best bet.
Is it safe to drink tap water from the bathroom?
The answer is No it isn’t safe to drink tap water from the bathroom.
Before I delve more on this topic, here is an interesting anecdote from my College days.
In the plush hostel that I stayed in while pursuing my law degree, we were not allowed to use any electric apparatus inside the room.
So what would we do if we wanted to eat Maggi? We turned on the geyser (pre-installed water heater) inside the bathroom, filled our cups with hot water and put Maggi in it!
Ingenious we thought the idea was, at least at that time, as a mother and as a travel curator I would advise against doing any such “not so genius” Jugaad.
Side Note: Jugaad is a flexible approach to problem-solving that uses limited resources in an innovative way.
Is it necessary to boil water to be used for hand washing?
No. It is not necessary to boil the tap water used for washing hands.
Can you brush your teeth with tap water in India?
Any tap water that might be swallowed should be boiled, filtered, from RO or should be from bottled water.
I think with all the traveling that we do, my kids are used to water from various places in India and we have safely brushed our teeth from tap waters. I cannot say that this tip will stand true for Non Indians.
Is it safe to Shower & shave with Tap water in India?
It is safe to shower (unless you swallow water while bathing), bathe and Shave with Tap Water in India. If you have had your Vaccinations before traveling to India, then waterborne germs that you are not ingesting shouldn’t be a problem for an odd nick from the razor.
Infants and toddlers should be sponge bathed to avoid the risk of them swallowing water. At least for face use boiled & cooled (to room temperature) water.
Is it safe to boil tap water and drink it?
Boiling makes the tap water microbiologically safe as it kills disease-causing microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or protozoans.
If you are in a Homestay or in an Airbnb kind of setup, you can boil water yourself.
Bring tap water to a full boiling point. Let it boil for one full minute. Then let it cool before using.
What if there is no stovetop available to boil water? If there is no stovetop available but a microwave is available, you can boil water in the microwave to make it safe. In a microwave-safe container bring the water to a full boiling point for a minute.
Does one need boiled water for washing clothes or flushing the toilet?
Well the answer is NO in case you are still wondering!!
Is drinking from Bottled Water Safe in India?
If you are buying a bottle from a decent sized shop or a restaurant, then the chances are that the bottled water has not been tampered with.
As a safety precaution, remember to always check the seal!
Once you are done drinking from any bottled water, it is advisable to crush it so that it cannot be used to fill spurious liquid and be sold again in the market.
I prefer to ask for RO or filtered water as I can see the source of water.
Which brand of bottled water should you buy in India? It is advisable to stick to brewery brands, as most have related bottled water brands. Giant companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi own brands like Bisleri, Kinley, and Aquafina and these brands are available in most parts of India.
Boiled water or Bottled water?
Your health comes first so take a well-informed decision when using anything which comes bottled in PLASTIC.
It is easy to fall in the trap of buying ‘enriched’ water right from the lap of the pristine valleys of the Himalayas or whatever that trips your trigger.
When we travel or do a day Trip/Picnic, we choose mainly non-plastic reusable water containers made of food-grade safe materials like stainless steel and glass. We fill our bottles at places where filtered or RO water is available.
Not only is bottled water expensive, remember that “Plastic pollutes!” If you are in the hilly parts of India, recycling in those parts is tougher than the plains. All plastic bottles that are not recycled end up being piling up as landfill waste.
Long story cut short, Bottled water is a convenience which is too expensive for our health, environment and water availability (Quote from here).
Can pets drink tap water in india?
Since most of India’s tap water is unfit for consumption I would rather not give my pet tap water to drink.
At home our pet drinks only filtered water. When we travel out pet drinks from the same source of water as us.
Final word on drinking tap water in india
I really wouldn’t want you to be out of action for a week due to a ‘Delhi Belly’ so if you can, do use boiled, filtered or RO water wherever available. If not, the easy way out is Bottled Water.