Turn Off The Water While You Brush Your Teeth

Turn Off The Water While You Brush Your Teeth
Image: Shutterstock

If you are one of the many people who leave the water running while you brush your teeth, here are two good arguments for changing your habit.

As Rachel Chang reports at Money, turning on the faucet only to wet your toothbrush (and then turning it off while you brush) can benefit both the environment and your bottom line:

Each time someone leaves the water running while they brush, four gallons of water [15L] (weighing an astonishing 8.34 pounds [4kg]) goes down the drain. While that can be hard to picture, think of it this way: a family of four who diligently turns off their faucet every time they brush will save 11,000 gallons [41,640L] a year — more than a month of average water usage.

So by doing this simple action, that household can cut their water use from 12 months to 10-and-a-half months, saving 13 per cent on their water bill — about $65 [$US96] a year for the average household, as David LaFrance, CEO of the American Water Works Association, explained.

I already know that saving $96 a year isn’t an overwhelming amount of money, and that the amount saved will vary for Australians, so don’t @ me. But cutting your family’s water usage by 41,640L per year is worth considering.

I also know that many of us already turn off the water when we brush our teeth. I was taught to brush that way, and I suspect many Millennials had similar experiences. One of our Lifehacker editors, for example, learned about the environmental benefits of water-free brushing from public television:

But a lot of people still leave the water running while they brush, sending a lot of water straight down the drain.

Of course, the next step after learning how to only use the tap when you need to wet or rinse your toothbrush is learning how to only use the shower when you need to wet or rinse your body. The average family uses nearly 151L of water per day showering, according to the EPA — so adopting the “Navy shower” can save even more water than adopting Barney’s preferred toothbrushing method.

Don’t want to go that far, even for the Earth? That’s fair. I haven’t started taking Navy showers yet either. But I keep thinking about it, which means I’ll probably end up trying it at some point.

The big difference, from my perspective, is that letting water run directly into the sink while you brush your teeth is wasteful, while letting water run onto your body as you soap it up is relaxing. Plus, I have my best thoughts in the shower! Don’t we all?

In the meanwhile, I’ll keep up the habit of turning off the water while I brush my teeth. It’s an easy way to save a few litres of water and keep a few extra dollars in my pocket, after all.


  • There’s a mistake here:
    … four gallons of water [15L] (weighing an astonishing 8.34 pounds [4kg])

    ONE gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds, four gallons weighs 33.3 pounds [15kg, or 15 litres]

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