Clean Water, Bad Taste: Why Your Water Tastes Like Dirt And What You Can Do About It

Water from your tap is usually perfect for drinking if it has been treated by your local municipality. However, just because it may be safe for your body does mean it will taste great when it hits your tongue. Here are some common reasons for why water can taste like dirt and what you can do to fix it. 

Causes Of Poor Flavor

Generally, water has a bad taste because of where it has been or what has been added to it. Common reasons why water tastes like dirt include the following:

  1. It was sourced from an area where the dirt has specific organic components that provide soil with its unique, rich flavor. All dangerous particulates are removed during the treatment process, but the lingering flavor remains.
  2. The water came from ponds or lakes that have high levels of algae. Geosmin is a compound that can be found in water affected by algal blooms; it causes a soil-like taste in drinking water. It is very powerful, so only a small amount needs to be present to ruin the flavor.
  3. Actual sediment is present in the water. This is more common in areas that have old plumbing or well water. 
  4. You have bacteria growing in your pipes that flavor the water. The bacteria cause the dirty flavor, which tastes similar to soil or dirt on your tongue. 
  5. Your faucet is dirty and needs to be cleaned out. 


For some of the above causes, the solution is simple cleaning. For example, it's easy to dismantle your faucet and soak the components in a vinegar bath to kill any lingering bacteria that can be affecting the taste of your water. For some of the other causes, the solutions are more in depth.


This compound is harmless, and it may only be present during the warm summer months when algal blooms occur. However, if you just can't stand it, one of the more simple solutions is to use a water filter that removes the compound. A complex carbon filter should do the trick. If it doesn't, consider investing in a water treatment system that uses reverse osmosis filtration or ozone treatment for best results.

Plumbing bacteria

This is a sign that you need to have your pipes inspected. Bacterial growth in the closed system indicates that that your plumbing will need repaired and that you may need to soften your water. Normally, the slick interior of your plumbing pipes does not allow for bacteria to catch on the walls and grow. However, hard water has the ability to roughen pipe interiors, providing a home for bacterial growth. A biofilm begins to form, flavoring your water as it sits in the pipes. This is a health concern as well. While some bacterias may only cause a dirty tastes, others -- like the one that causes Legionnaire's disease -- can also find a home in your plumbing. The best solution is to have your water hardness tested and to install a water softening treatment system.

Actual sediment

After pouring yourself a glass of water, examine it to see if there are any particles that settle on the bottom. If there are, you should contact your water supplier and have your home plumbing inspected. Sometimes, old plumbing that uses clay or lead pipes can lead to sediment in the water that gives it a dirty flavor because there actually is dirt in the water. Whether it is from the water supply or from your own pipes, you should wait until you know your water is clean before drinking. Pipes may need replaced or you may need run water through a carbon filter before drinking. Contact a company like Waterman911 for more information.