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Mai Pham
March 29, 2023

When a boil water advisory has been issued, it is important to take the necessary precautions when washing dishes. Boil water advisories are often issued after heavy rainfall or flooding, as they indicate that the local water supply may be contaminated with bacteria and other microorganisms. This means that if you use tap water for dishwashing without boiling it first, you could be exposing yourself to potentially dangerous contaminants.

Therefore, following proper protocols when washing dishes under a boil water advisory is essential to ensure your safety and health.

In this article, we will discuss why it’s important to wash dishes even under a boil water advisory and how best to do so.

How to wash dishes with boil water advisory

Under the boil water advisory, if you use a dishwasher, check your dishwasher to ensure that during the washing process, the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66°Celsius), or your dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle. If you wash dishes by hand, wash and rinse your dishes using hot water as usual. Then before air drying, soak your rinsed dishes in warm water and mix with some household liquid bleach with a ratio of 1 teaspoon for each gallon of warm water for at least 1 minute.

Preparing for dishwashing

Gathering necessary supplies

To begin washing dishes with a boil water advisory in effect, it is important to gather the necessary supplies first. This includes a pot of water to be boiled, dish soap, hot pads or oven mitts if you are going to use boiling water and a drying rack for drying your dishes afterward.

Boiling the water

Once you have collected all your supplies, the next step is to boil the water. Make sure to use a pot that is large enough for the number of dishes you need to clean. Boil the water for at least one minute, or until it reaches a rolling boil. This will help ensure that any potential contaminants in the tap water are killed off before using it to wash dishes.

Ensuring water is safe to use

Once the water has been boiled, it is necessary to make sure that it is safe to use. Fill a clean cup with some of the boiling water and let it cool for a few minutes before using a thermometer to check its temperature. The temperature should be at least 66 degrees Celsius for the water to be safe. If the temperature is lower than this, re-boil the water and check again.

Steps for washing dishes

Washing dishes with hot soapy water

Once you have ensured that the water is safe, it’s then time to start washing dishes. Make sure to use hot soapy water, as this will help remove any potential contaminants from your dishes. Scrub off all food particles and grease with a scrubber or dish brush and rinse thoroughly under running tap water until all soap residue is gone.

Rinsing dishes with boiled water

After rinsing with tap water, your dishes should then be rinsed with boiled water. This can be done by filling a basin or sink with boiled water and soaking the dishes for at least one minute. Once finished, take out the dishes and allow them to air dry on a clean towel or rack.

Soak the rinsed dishes in water and mix with household liquid bleach

For extra safety, it’s a good idea to soak the rinsed dishes in warm water and mix with some household liquid bleach before air drying. Use a ratio of 1 teaspoon for each gallon of warm water, and make sure to let the dishes soak for at least one minute. Once finished, remove the dishes from the solution and allow them to air dry on a clean towel or rack.

Extra precautions

Safety tips for washing dishes under Boil Water Advisory

  • Always use boiled water for the final rinse: After washing dishes with regular soap and water, rinse them thoroughly using water that has been boiled for at least one minute. This will kill any bacteria that may be present.
  • Use disposable gloves: To minimize the risk of contamination, wear disposable gloves while washing dishes. Dispose of gloves after each use.
  • Wash dishes in hot soapy water: Wash dishes in hot soapy water as usual. This helps to remove any bacteria or germs from the surface of the dishes.
  • Sanitize the sink and countertop: Use a sanitizing solution to clean and disinfect the sink and countertop before and after washing dishes. This will help to prevent cross-contamination and further spread of any bacteria.
  • Don’t use an unqualified dishwasher: If your dishwasher doesn’t have a sanitary cycle or doesn’t bring water to at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66°Celsius), avoid using it during a Boil Water Advisory, as it does not reach high enough temperatures to kill bacteria.

Considerations for cleaning dishcloths

Dishcloths should also be cleaned during a Boil Water Advisory. For a thorough clean, dishcloths should be washed with warm soapy water, rinsed in boiled water, and then left to soak in a mixture of 1 teaspoon of household bleach per gallon for no less than one minute.

After the cloth is removed from the solution, air dry it or even better, put it under the sun for faster drying and deeper sanitizing.


Washing dishes during a Boil Water Advisory can be a tricky process. However, by following these steps and taking extra precautions, you can help ensure that your dishes are clean and safe to use. Remember: safety comes first! Always use boiled water for the final rinse, wear disposable gloves when washing dishes, wash in hot soapy water, sanitize the sink and countertop, and don’t use an unqualified dishwasher. Lastly, properly clean and sanitize dishcloths as well. With these tips in mind, you can continue to enjoy your meals without worrying about contamination.

About the Author

I am a working mother who more than often prefer to come home and rest rather than doing house chores. I am passionate about simplifying house chores to live and enjoy life more.

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