How to Store Water Long-Term


The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has published guidelines for long-term water storage. FEMA recommends commercially bottled water because it has been specially prepared for long-term storage. FEMA also provides instructions for bottling and storing your own water. This method requires food-grade storage containers such as those sold at camping supplies stores, or plastic soda bottles (which require an additional sanitization step). FEMA recommends maintaining a three-day water supply of at least 1 gallon per person per day.

Things You'll Need

  • Containers
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Non-scented household bleach
  • Permanent marker or other writing instrument
  • Optional: Bleach

Step 1

Choose the type of storage containers you will be using. See Warnings for some precautions.

Step 2

Clean the containers with dish washing soap and water, including the original caps.

Step 3

Rinse the containers thoroughly, ensuring that there is no soap left.

Step 4

For plastic soda bottles only: Combine 1 tsp. of bleach with 1 qt. of water and swish it around the entire container. Rinse the container thoroughly with with clean water.

Step 5

Fill the sanitized containers with water. Tap water from public water utilities that use chlorine require no further steps. For water from private wells or other sources, add two drops of bleach to the container.

Step 6

Screw on the original caps, taking care to not touch the inside surface of the container or cap.

Step 7

Write the date on the container. The water should be good for six months, at which point it must be replaced.

Step 8

Store the containers in a location that is cool and dark.

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Tips & Warnings

  • FEMA warns consumers against using glass or cardboard containers, or any containers that have held milk or juice. Glass containers are breakable and heavy, and the remaining kinds cannot be adequately sterilized.


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