How To Clean 5 Gallon Water Jug

How To Clean 5 Gallon Water Jug?

Last Updated: October 24, 2023By

A 5-gallon water jug is a versatile and convenient container for storing and dispensing drinking water. Whether you use it for emergency water storage, camping trips, or simply as a water source for your home or office, it’s crucial to keep the jug clean. Clean water storage is essential for maintaining the quality and safety of your drinking water. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of How To Clean 5 Gallon Water Jug, ensuring that your water remains pure and free from contaminants. We’ll cover everything from emptying the jug to regular maintenance, providing you with the knowledge and tools to maintain a clean and safe water supply. So, let’s dive in and learn how to care for your 5-gallon water jug properly.

Materials Needed

5-gallon water jug
Hot water
Dish soap or a mild detergent
Bottlebrush or long-handled brush
Baking soda (optional)
White vinegar (optional)
Funnel (optional)
Towel or paper towels.

How To Clean 5 Gallon Water Jug?

Empty The Water Jug

Before you can start the process of cleaning your 5-gallon water jug, it’s essential to ensure that it is empty. If you’re using the jug for regular water storage, use the water for drinking, cooking, or other purposes until it’s nearly empty. When you’re left with just a small amount of water at the bottom of the jug, carefully pour it out into a sink or other suitable container.

Ensure that you handle the jug with care during this step to prevent any splashing or spillage. If you’re emptying a jug that has been sitting in storage for an extended period, inspect the water for any signs of contamination or discoloration before disposing of it. Properly disposing of any water that has been stored for a while is important for maintaining water quality and your health.

Once your 5-gallon water jug is empty, you’re ready to proceed with the cleaning process, ensuring that the container is in its best condition for storing clean and safe drinking water.

Pre-Cleaning Rinse

With your 5-gallon water jug emptied, the next step in the cleaning process is to give it a thorough pre-cleaning rinse. Begin by running hot water into the jug, filling it up to about a quarter of its capacity. The hot water serves two purposes: it helps to soften any deposits or residues inside the jug, and it raises the temperature, which can aid in removing potential contaminants.

Once you’ve added the hot water, use a specialized bottle brush or a long-handled brush to scrub the interior of the jug. Pay careful attention to areas that are prone to buildup, such as the neck and the bottom. The goal here is to dislodge any loose debris, sediment, or residues that may have accumulated over time.

After scrubbing, pour out the hot water and any loosened debris. You may need to repeat this rinsing and scrubbing process a couple of times until the water runs clear. This pre-cleaning rinse is a crucial step in preparing your 5-gallon water jug for a more thorough cleaning, ensuring that you start with a clean slate for the rest of the process.

Cleaning Solution Preparation

The cleaning solution is essential for effectively eliminating any remaining contaminants and ensuring your jug is thoroughly sanitized.

To prepare the cleaning solution, you have several options:

  • Dish Soap or Mild Detergent: One of the most common choices is to create a cleaning solution using warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap or detergent. Mix the soap into warm water, ensuring it’s not too hot to handle but warm enough to be effective in cleaning.
  • Baking Soda (Optional): For a more natural and odor-neutralizing solution, you can use baking soda. Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with warm water to create a paste-like consistency. This can help remove any lingering odors.
  • White Vinegar (Optional): White vinegar is another natural alternative. Mix a solution of white vinegar and water, usually in a 1:1 ratio. This solution not only cleans but also acts as a deodorizer.

Remember that any cleaning solution you use should be thoroughly rinsed from the jug to avoid any lingering taste or odor. The choice between these options largely depends on personal preference and any specific odors or residues you want to address.

Having prepared your cleaning solution, you are now ready to proceed with cleaning the interior of your 5-gallon water jug, ensuring it’s free from contaminants and safe for storing fresh water.

Cleaning the Interior

Cleaning the interior of your 5-gallon water jug is a critical step in ensuring its cleanliness and safety for storing drinking water. After preparing your chosen cleaning solution, carefully pour it into the jug. Using a specialized bottle brush or a long-handled brush, scrub the interior of the jug thoroughly.

Pay particular attention to areas that are prone to buildup, such as the neck and the bottom of the jug. Scrubbing ensures that any remaining contaminants, residue, or bacteria are removed. It’s essential to be thorough and methodical during this process, ensuring that you reach all areas of the jug’s interior.

After scrubbing, let the cleaning solution sit in the jug for a few minutes. This dwell time allows the solution to break down and lift any stubborn deposits.

Following the dwell time, thoroughly rinse the jug with hot water. Rinse it several times to ensure that no soap or cleaning solution residue remains. The water should run clear when rinsing.

Cleaning the interior of your 5-gallon water jug is essential for maintaining water quality. It eliminates contaminants, odors, and any potential health hazards, ensuring that your stored water remains clean and safe for consumption.


After you’ve diligently scrubbed the interior of your 5-gallon water jug with the cleaning solution, the next step in the cleaning process is thorough rinsing. Rinsing is crucial to remove any remnants of the cleaning solution, as well as any dislodged debris or contaminants from the jug.

To perform this step, fill the jug with hot water, being cautious not to use scalding water that may damage the jug. It’s recommended to use water at a temperature similar to what you used for the initial rinse and cleaning.

Rinse the jug several times, ensuring that you swish the water around vigorously to dislodge and wash away any remaining cleaning solution. You should continue rinsing until the water runs clear, which indicates that no soap or residue is left inside the jug.

Effective rinsing not only ensures the removal of cleaning agents but also helps restore the jug to its neutral state, preventing any residual taste or odor from affecting the quality of the water you store. With the interior thoroughly rinsed, you can proceed with sterilization, if desired, and cleaning the jug’s exterior to complete the cleaning process.


While sterilization is an optional step in the process of cleaning a 5-gallon water jug, it can provide an extra layer of assurance that your water container is free from potentially harmful microorganisms. Sterilization is particularly useful if you’ve used the jug for extended periods or if you’re unsure about its previous cleanliness.

To sterilize your 5-gallon water jug, one common method is to pour boiling water into the jug, filling it up to the brim. Afterward, securely cover the jug and allow it to sit for a few minutes. This process, with the heat of boiling water, helps kill any remaining bacteria or microorganisms.

Alternatively, you can use food-safe sanitizers as directed on the product label. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the jug after using any sanitizer to remove any residues.

After sterilization, ensure that the jug is entirely dry before refilling it with fresh water. Sterilization offers added peace of mind, especially if you plan to use the jug for long-term water storage, as it minimizes the risk of bacterial growth and contamination.

Cleaning The Exterior

While much of the cleaning focus is directed toward the interior of your 5-gallon water jug, it’s also essential to maintain the exterior. A clean exterior not only enhances the overall appearance but also ensures that no external contaminants make their way into your stored water.

To clean the exterior of the jug Use a clean, damp cloth or paper towel.

If there are any labels or sticky residue on the jug’s surface, remove them using a mild adhesive remover or rubbing alcohol.

Please pay attention to details such as the handle, spigot, and any other features, ensuring they are free from dirt and grime.

A clean exterior not only enhances the aesthetics of the jug but also contributes to maintaining overall hygiene. By maintaining both the interior and exterior cleanliness of your 5-gallon water jug, you can be confident that your water storage is safe and that your drinking water remains untainted by external contaminants.

Reassembly And Refilling

After ensuring the interior and exterior of your 5-gallon water jug are meticulously cleaned, it’s time to reassemble and refill it with fresh, clean water. First, reattach any accessories like caps, spigots, or lids securely. Ensure they are properly fitted to prevent any contamination during storage.

When refilling the jug, use clean, filtered water, which ensures that you start with the highest water quality. If you’re concerned about the purity of your water source, you can use a water filter or a filtration system to remove impurities. A funnel can be handy for pouring water into the jug without spilling it.

Once the jug is filled, seal it securely, making sure the cap or lid is tightened properly to maintain the freshness and quality of the water. With your 5-gallon water jug reassembled and filled with clean water, it’s now ready for use, whether for daily consumption, emergencies, or outdoor activities. Regular maintenance and proper storage are essential to ensure the ongoing cleanliness and safety of your water supply.

Regular Maintenance Tips

  • Frequent Cleaning: Regularly clean your 5-gallon water jug every few weeks or more frequently if needed. Frequent cleaning prevents the buildup of contaminants and ensures your water remains safe to drink.
  • Avoid Common Mistakes: Be mindful of common mistakes, such as using harsh or toxic cleaning agents, failing to rinse thoroughly, or neglecting the jug’s exterior. These errors can compromise water quality and safety.
  • Proper Storage: Store the jug in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Exposure to sunlight and extreme temperatures can affect water quality and promote bacterial growth.


How Much Bleach Does It Take To Disinfect A 5-Gallon Water Jug?

Approximately 1-2 tablespoons of bleach per 5 gallons of water for disinfecting a 5-gallon water jug.

How Long Will A 5-Gallon Water Jug Last?

A 5-gallon water jug, when properly stored, can last indefinitely, maintaining the quality of the water for years.

How Long Does Bleach Last In The Jug?

Bleach remains effective in a jug for about 24 hours before losing its disinfecting power, so it’s essential to refresh the solution regularly if needed.

What Kills The Smell Of Bleach?

A mixture of vinegar and water can help neutralize and eliminate the smell of bleach.

How Do You Clean A 5-gallon Water Bottle Without Bleach?

Clean a 5-gallon water bottle without bleach by using baking soda, white vinegar, and hot water to remove odors and contaminants.


Maintaining a clean and safe 5-gallon water jug is crucial for ensuring the quality and safety of your drinking water. By following the steps outlined in this guide, from emptying the jug to sterilization and regular maintenance, you can keep your water supply pristine and free from potential contaminants. Whether you’re using the jug for daily hydration, emergencies, or outdoor adventures, a well-maintained water jug provides peace of mind and a reliable source of clean water. Remember to follow these steps regularly to enjoy the benefits of clean and safe water storage.

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