Chlorine and disinfectant tastes and smells

This problem can occur when the plastic or rubber parts in appliances or fittings start to react with the low levels of chlorine in the water.

These plastic and rubber fittings are commonly found around the house and workplace in kettles (plastic and metal), pipes and flexible hoses connected to drinks machines, dishwashers and washing machines, and tap washers.

Chlorine tastes and smells

Chlorine in drinking water is not harmful, but some people are more sensitive to the taste and smell of chlorine than others. To help reduce the chlorinous taste and odour in the water try the following.

  • Fill a jug with cold water and place in the fridge for a few hours before use.
  • This will allow some of the chlorine to disperse and in a few hours the taste or odour will improve.
  • The jug should be covered and any water left after 24 hours should be discarded

More details are available by downloading IWNL’s Chlorine in your water advice leaflet.

TCP and disinfectant tastes and smells

If you have a washing machine or dishwasher, the hoses connecting your pipework and your appliance could be causing the taste. To find out if this is the cause, follow the below guidance.

  • Firstly, isolate the supply to your appliance
  • Next detach the appliance hose from the plumbing
  • Now run the taps to flush out any water which has been in contact with the hoses.
  • Finally, before you reconnect the hose, see if the taste has gone. If it has, then the hose is the cause.

More details are available by downloading IWNL’s TCP and disinfectant advice leaflet.


Earthy, musty or stale tastes and smells

These tastes and smells are often more noticeable first thing in the morning or when the property has been left for a period of time. Often the problem is coming from the waste trap in the sink rather than the water itself.
Running the tap can disturb waste in the waste trap or u-bend. Try cleaning the sink trap and drain to solve the problem or run you tap for a few minutes.

If this doesn’t work, it may be that there is low turnover of the water in the mains and we may need to flush the main to clear any water that is not being used promptly. Please contact us so that we can investigate.

Find out more

Diesel, petrol or metallic tastes and smells

You should contact IWNL immediately if you find that your water tastes or smells of diesel or petrol. This taste or odour may be due to a fuel spill close to your home. The chemical compounds in diesel and petrol can penetrate the plastic pipes used to deliver water to your home. Therefore, please clean up any fuel spills that occur on your property.

Metallic water  – If water is allowed to stand in taps, plumbing or other appliances for long periods of time, metals from the pipework or appliances can leach into the water. Elevated levels of metals in water can cause some unusual tastes, odours and in some extreme cases, colour changes. Flushing of your pipework can quickly resolve these issues.