Even though the planet is about three-quarters water, only 1 percent of it is clean enough to use. You can help preserve that precious amount by contributing to water conservation in simple ways while brushing your teeth.
Reducing your use of water puts it back into the environment, lowers your water bill and, if you're on a well rather than municipal water, helps preserve the water table. Staying aware of how you're using water when you brush your teeth can actually save several gallons of water every day.
Over time, you build up habits – and not all of them might be good. When it comes to water conservation, some of these habits are better left behind. Here are five ways you can effectively reduce your water usage during your daily oral care routine.
1. Run Water Only When Rinsing
Turn the water off while you brush your teeth. If you leave the water running, you can end up using as much as four gallons each time you clean your teeth, the EPA reports. Brush twice a day and you'd go through eight gallons – that's 200 gallons every month. Such a great deal of water is worth saving because all you have to do is turn off the faucet after you dampen your toothbrush (or don't dampen your toothbrush at all), then turn it back on to rinse. Practice this if you're brushing away from home, too.
2. Use a (Reusable) Cup
Don't use your hands as a cup to drink from the faucet as you rinse your mouth. Not only do your hands have germs on them, but this allows some of the water to run down the drain and go to waste. Instead, fill up a cup – ideally a reusable one, allowing you to use less paper while you're at it.
3. Use It All
Be careful not to let the faucet run before you moisten your Colgate® Optic White® Platinum toothbrush or fill your rinsing cup. You might be in the habit of doing so to let the water cool down or get warmer. But if you need to run the water for a short time to get the right temperature, you can still conserve it by capturing it in a second cup that you can use to water your plants or fill up a pet's drinking dish – or put it in the refrigerator so you can use it later when it's nice and cold. San Diego Public Utilities touches on even more ways to conserve water in the bathroom – for instance, when shaving. Try some of these with the family; it's not too late for you to learn new habits. And if you have children, you can instill some basic lessons in water conservation at an early age.
4. Check for Leaks
Keep an eye out for leaks. Brushing your teeth is a great time to check to see if the faucet or piping underneath is letting water escape each time it runs. Just a few drips a day out of a leaky faucet can add up to hundreds of gallons of wasted water over the course of a year. If you notice drips after you've turned the faucet off, you should have the faucet repaired.
5. Renew Your Plumbing
Ultimately, it's a good idea to replace all of your home's old faucets with newer, more water-friendly faucet heads. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), newer faucets use about half the number of gallons per minute as older appliances. Replacing your outdated bathroom plumbing can conserve a considerable amount of water every year – saving you money and benefiting your environment.
To learn even more about water conservation and why it's so important, visit Colgate's Save Water program, Every Drop Counts. While you're there, take the Save Water pledge and help save almost 3,000 gallons of water every year just by altering your brushing routine.