How to clean up water in your home

What is water pollution?

Water pollution can be defined in many ways. Usually, it means one or more substances have built up in water to such an extent that they cause problems for animals or people. Oceans, lakes, rivers, and other inland waters can naturally clean up a certain amount of pollution by dispersing it harmlessly. If you poured a cup of black ink into a river, the ink would quickly disappear into the river’s much larger volume of clean water. The ink would still be there in the river, but in such a low concentration that you would not be able to see it. At such low levels, the chemicals in the ink probably would not present any real problem. However, if you poured gallons of ink into a river every few seconds through a pipe, the river would quickly turn black. The chemicals in the ink could very quickly have an effect on the quality of the water. This, in turn, could affect the health of all the plants, animals, and humans whose lives depend on the river.

Photo: Pollution means adding substances to the en

Photo: Pollution means adding substances to the environment that don’t belong there—like the air pollution from this smokestack. Pollution is not always as obvious as this, however.

Thus, water pollution is all about quantities: how much of a polluting substance is released and how big a volume of water it is released into. A small quantity of a toxic chemical may have little impact if it is spilled into the ocean from a ship. But the same amount of the same chemical can have a much bigger impact pumped into a lake or river, where there is less clean water to disperse it.

Water pollution almost always means that some damage has been done to an ocean, river, lake, or other water source. A 1969 United Nations report defined ocean pollution as:

“The introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substances or energy into the marine environment (including estuaries) resulting in such deleterious effects as harm to living resources, hazards to human health, hindrance to marine activities, including fishing, impairment of quality for use of sea water and reduction of amenities.” [1]

Fortunately, Earth is forgiving and damage from water pollution is often reversible.


Call in an expert ASAP

        Credit:                      Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images / fstop123

To know the actual extent of your water damage, you’ll need to have a plumbing expert come as soon as possible.

When you’re dealing with a flooded home, you’ll need an emergency plumbing service to assist in evaluating the plumbing damage done in your home. It’s best to call a service immediately to minimize the damage done, especially if your community is experiencing widespread damage and service is in high demand.

Wilkinson says, “Water can damage a house very fast, and it doesn’t take a lot to make a lot of damage.”

Crow also recommends immediately contacting a clean-up and restoration service. Water damage restoration services can help evaluate and fix the damage caused by prolonged water exposure.


To find a reputable service, the National Center for Healthy Housing recommends researching options on restoration industry websites like The Restoration Industry Association.

It’s also important to know that if your home is not dried out within 22-48, the EPA says you should assume there is mold growth happening in your home.

At this point, cleaning up may become dangerous to do on your own, as mold exposure can lead to irritation, allergic reactions, and even infection in people with weakened immune systems. In this case, consult a qualified professional to inspect and restore the damage in your home.


The Need for a Water Infrastructure Overhaul

America’s water infrastructure is largely dilapidated and in urgent need of an overhaul. In fact, in its 2017 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the country’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructures D and D+ grades, respectively. Additionally, the 2015 AWWA State of the Water Industry (SOTWI) report prioritized the overhaul of the water provision infrastructure. However, upgrading the water infrastructure would require huge capital investments. In 2010, for instance, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that it would take $91 billion to upgrade the country’s drinking and wastewater infrastructure, including pipes, storage facilities, and treatment facilities.

Still, this investment is necessary because America loses over 1.7 trillion gallons of freshwater every year because of broken and leaky pipes. More importantly, it would ensure the quality of drinking water in America remains high, which is important considering the 2014 water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Unfortunately, these problems are unlikely to be adequately resolved because of funding gaps. For instance, only $36 billion out of the $91 billion required was funded, leaving a $55 billion funding gap. Even worse, the EPA projects the gap will soar to $126 billion by 2020 and $196 billion by 2040. It is worth noting that the ASCE believes that the country needs to invest in water and wastewater treatment infrastructure in order to cope with consumption trends and technologies.

How can we stop water pollution?

There is no easy way to solve water pollution; if there were, it wouldn’t be so much of a problem. Broadly speaking, there are three different things that can help to tackle the problem—education, laws, and economics—and they work together as a team.


Making people aware of the problem is the first step to solving it. In the early 1990s, when surfers in Britain grew tired of catching illnesses from water polluted with sewage, they formed a group called Surfers Against Sewage to force governments and water companies to clean up their act. People who’ve grown tired of walking the world’s polluted beaches often band together to organize community beach-cleaning sessions. Anglers who no longer catch so many fish have campaigned for tougher penalties against factories that pour pollution into our rivers. Greater public awareness can make a positive difference.


Most environmental experts agree that the best way to tackle pollution is through something called the polluter pays principle. This means that whoever causes pollution should have to pay to clean it up, one way or another. Polluter pays can operate in all kinds of ways. It could mean that tanker owners should have to take out insurance that covers the cost of oil spill cleanups, for example. It could also mean that shoppers should have to pay for their plastic grocery bags, as is now common in Ireland, to encourage recycling and minimize waste. Or it could mean that factories that use rivers must have their water inlet pipes downstream of their effluent outflow pipes, so if they cause pollution they themselves are the first people to suffer. Ultimately, the polluter pays principle is designed to deter people from polluting by making it less expensive for them to behave in an environmentally responsible way.

How to Save Water While Washing Clothes

1. Replace your Old In-efficient Washing Machine with an Efficient Washing Machine

– Old-style top-loading washing machines use 150 to 170 Liters of water per wash. You can reduce this by up to 50% by using high-efficiency top-loading washing machines. Front-loading washing machines use much less water and electricity than top-loading washing machines.

2. Don’t Run Empty Washing Machines

Don’t just run your washing machine for a couple of socks or 1 or 2 shirts. Make sure you’re washing a full load of laundry. When washing your clothes, use the economy mode – this will save you both water and electricity.

3. Wash Less Often

Several clothes like sweaters, jeans, towels, track pants and jackets do not require washing every time you wear them. It will not only save water but will save wear and tear on your clothes.

Reader Success Stories

  • Anonymous

Mar 14, 2017

    Anonymous Mar 14, 2017

    “There is one more I know where you take a bucket of dirty water, then take a large piece of fabric, place the piece of fabric over the bucket, then hold it over an empty bucket. Clean water will drip out the bottom. You have to be fast, though.” …” more

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