Let’s talk about different water storage containers! This list isn’t going to be all inclusive because there are so many kinds, but it will give you a pretty good idea of what kind of storage options are out there.
Two important disclaimers
1-An emergency/water shortage is not the time to play chicken with water borne illnesses. Please, please, please be careful when you are prepping water. Be sure you are prepping and storing water safely especially for long term storage. I always err on the side of a water purification treatment AND a water filtration system.
2-This post will contain affiliate links. This means that I earn a small commission on products purchased through those links at no cost to you.
**I am going to link several products so you know what I am talking about but do your research before purchasing because you can often find them cheaper at your local grocery stores.
My Top 3 Favorite
A case of water
I try to use reusable water bottles as often as possible, but there are times where we use plastic water bottles that we buy by the case. My general rule of thumb is to store at least one case of water for every member of our family, including our dog. I write the expiration date on them, so we know which case needs to be used soonest.
Pro: It’s easily accessible, easy to rotate, and easy to stack and store.
Con: Because it’s made from cheap plastic material the plastic can degrade faster making it a shorter term water storage.
Storage: We store our cases of water in our attached garage up against the house. It’s not the best practice to store perishable items in the garage because it’s not temperature regulated. However, our garage typically doesn’t get super hot in the summer and during the winter it doesn’t get cold enough to freeze.
A 5-gallon water jug
A food grade 5-gallon jug of water. I actaully prefer these to the big 55+ gallon water barrels because they’re more portable than other kinds of water storage containers.
A gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds so a 5-gallon jug weighs just under 42 pounds. It’s heavy, but not impossible to move if needed. I try to have at least one 5-gallon jug for every member of our house, again including our dog.
Pro: When properly cleaned and stored with a water purifier treatment, the water will last up to 5 years if left unopened.
Con: Can be heavy, doesn’t stack, and isn’t super easy to pour.
Storage: I store these everywhere I can. I have two with our 72-hour kits. I have several in my food storage room and some out in my garage next to the cases of water. The reason I have these stashed everywhere is because I understand that if we have an earthquake that compromises our house I want to be able to have access to water. If all our water was in the basement, then that is going to be a lot of digging to get to.
Recycled laundry detergent containers
My third favorite way to store water is reusing old liquid laundry detergent containers. I need to preface this by saying that water stored in recycled containers should never be used to cook or drink. No matter how much you clean or disinfect old containers you can’t know how well it’s actually been cleaned out or if there’s still chemicals in them. It’s just safer to use recycled containers for cleaning purposes.
Pro: Easy pour, sturdy plastic, recycled=less waste.
Con: Can’t safely be used for drinking or cooking.
Storage: I like to store these under the sinks in my kitchen and bathrooms. They stay out of the way but they take up room, so things aren’t getting shoved into the back of the cupboards.
Other Water Storage Container Options
55+ water gallon barrels
If you want an easy way to store a lot of water then getting water barrels are the way to go. You can get them in sizes from 55 to 200+ gallons.
Pro: Holds a lot of water, when properly cleaned and purified can safely preserve water for 5 years if left unopened.
Con: Heavy once the water is filled you won’t be able to move the barrel, so you need to be sure you have it in a location you feel comfortable with. You need a pump to be able to get the water out unless your barrel has a spout at the bottom.
Storage: We have one 55-gallon barrel that stays in our attached garage up against the house. Again, it’s not an ideal location, but we figured that having that much water is worth it even if it’s in the garage. I have also seen them in basements, but the problem we had is not having a hose long enough to fill the barrel.
Gallon water jugs
Pro: Cheap and easily accessible.
Con: Needs to be rotated frequently due to plastic corroding.
Storage: Store somewhere where you will remember to use and rotate frequently.
Pros and cons of water bricks
Pro: Stackable and portable
Con: Doesn’t hold a lot of water and can be expensive.
Storage: I don’t personally have water bricks, but if I did you could store them pretty much anywhere. Under beds, couches, bottoms of closets, back of cupboards, etc.
Pro: You don’t have to worry about storing water if unneeded. Waterbobs can hold a lot of water in your bathtub that won’t drain out or get debris in it.
Con: You need to have time to store up water. This kind of container would be ideal for hurricanes or other events you may see coming because you will have time to fill up the container. They aren’t ideal for earthquakes or tornados because more often than not you don’t have enough warning to fill them up. Most items are only one time use.
Storage: Can be stored anywhere until you need to use it.
Rain barrels are another good source for water storage IF you live in the right climate.
Pro: You can benefit from rainfall and be more self sufficient.
Con: If you live in a desert climate rainfall might be few and far between so counting on rainfall as a source of water wouldn’t be dependable. You will also need a good water filter if you are planning on drinking or cooking with this water.
Emergency drinking water pouches
Emergency drinking water pouches can be another good form of water storage containers.
Pro: Lasts 5 years, portable,
Con: Expensive, single serving sizes, not resealable
Storage: 72 hour kits, car kits, backpacks, etc.
Recycled milk/juice containers
Using recycled milk containers isn’t a great option because you won’t be able to properly clean the container. Gallon milk containers are not made from the highest quality plastic and will erode pretty quickly.
Recycled juice or soda containers are often times made of a higher quality plastic, so I’d use those before using milk containers.
However, like I mentioned above with the laundry detergent containers. I wouldn’t use these containers to drink or cook with. I would use these containers for cleaning or manually flushing the toilets. Be sure to write the date on it so you know how old that water is.
Hidden Water Storage
Look for hidden sources of water around your house. Often times you can find water
Back of toilet: The back of your toilet can be a hidden source of water storage. Be careful if you use chemical in the back of your tank or if you are unsure if there has ever been chemical in there. You wouldn’t want to drink or cook with this water.
Water heater: Water heaters are a great source of water storage because it stores a lot of water and it’s rotated through frequently. If you live in an area prone to earthquake then be sure to secure your water heater (and other furniture) to prevent tip over.
There are many water storage container options available, some are better than others. Whichever options you choose be sure you storing water safely. The last thing you want to do is get a water borne illness which usually causes severe vomiting and diarrhea when you’re already facing a water shortage. Next week we will discuss water filtration, disinfection, and purification.