Why Does My Water Smell Like Chlorine?

Why Does My Water Smell Like Chlorine?
No one wants to turn on their tap for a fresh glass of water and smell the bleachy odor of chlorine. While public water supplies use chlorine as a disinfectant to treat waterborne diseases, the unpleasant after-effects are an issue for many homeowners.

If you have a noticeable odor or taste of chlorine in your home’s drinking water, it’s not generally a cause for alarm, but you may want to consider treating it to improve the taste.

Chlorine in water IS recommended by the EPA

Since the early 1900s, cities all across the U.S. have used chlorine to disinfect their water supplies, making American drinking water supplies among the safest in the world. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates drinking water under the Safe Water Drinking Act, which recommends levels below 4mg/L for chlorine. Because chlorine odor is detectable above 1 mg/L, you might still smell it at your tap, even if it’s technically safe for you to drink.

What to do if your water smells like chlorine

While you can test your water to check if the level of chlorine is above safe levels, you can treat taste and odor issues even if they’re not.

The typical solution to reduce chlorine taste and odor is carbon filtration. You can choose to filter the water at either the point of use - such as your drinking water faucet, or the point of entry - where plumbing enters your home from the outside.

If you want to reduce the chlorine smell from the water that you drink, cook, or shower with, you can install a carbon filter at the tap, dispenser, or shower head.

Point of use options include:

If you want to treat all of the water in your home, you can install a point of entry whole home filter system. You can choose from filters that reduce the taste and odor of chlorine, or more robust filtration systems that also reduce the actual chlorine or chloramine (a group of chemical compounds that contain chlorine and ammonia, also used in municipal water treatment facilities) in your water.

Point of Entry options:

Common questions about chlorinated water

While the treatment of your water with chlorine eliminates the worry about disease-causing pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, when the odor of bleach remains, you may still have questions about its safety.

Can I drink water with chlorine?

If the level of chlorine in your water is below 4 mg/L, it meets the EPA health standards. If you still find the taste unpleasant, invest in a faucet or undersink filter, or store your water in a filtered pitcher in the refrigerator.

Can I shower with water that contains chlorine?

Unless you have a known sensitivity to chlorine, it should be safe to shower, although you may experience dry, itchy skin or hair. You can easily attach a filter to your shower head to improve your water quality.

Is there a level of chlorine in water that is considered not safe?

If you test your water and measure a level above the EPA standard of 4 mg/L, you should contact your municipality to report the issue. Until the issue is resolved, you may want to invest in not only point of use systems, but a whole home system to reduce the chlorine in your water supply.

Is chlorine used/found in well water?

Municipal water supplies add chlorine to their water for disinfection. Chlorine is not typically found in well water supplies, but may be used as a “shock treatment” to sanitize it when necessary.

Getting rid of the smell of chlorine is an easy fix

While chlorine has been used to eradicate waterborne diseases in U.S. municipal water supplies for over a century, today’s homeowner may still have to deal with the downside of its lingering taste and odor.

Treatment is as simple and readily available as a carbon filter at your tap, or could involve a solution to treat your whole home’s water supply.