Troop Gear: Water Jugs

[This is the first in a series of articles on the use, care and maintenance of our Troop gear.  You can find this and subsequent articles filed under “Gear” in the menu on the home page of our website.]

Those big, blue 5-gallon jugs you may have seen on camping trips are the Troop’s water jugs.  They are used to store drinking water for use in the campsite.  In order to make sure we’re drinking safe, clean water these jugs must be kept really, really clean.

If you are assigned a water jug for an outing, it’s your responsibility to make sure there’s no “yuck” in the jug.

The most important thing to remember about these jugs is that dirt, mold and bacteria inside the jug can mean unsafe drinking water, which can make for a very bad outing.

When you are asked to bring a water jug on a trip, please make sure it is clean before you fill it.  If you are bringing a jug back after a trip, make sure it’s both clean and dry before you return it.

Cleaning a water jug is a little more than just rinsing it out.  Moisture inside the jug creates an environment for mold.  Germs and bacteria inside the jug or on the spout can easily find their way into the water we drink.

You should rinse the jug with a cap full of bleach added to 1/2 gallon of cold water.  Put the cap on the jug and vigorously shake the water/bleach mixture around, making sure it reaches all the inside surfaces of the jug.  Pour out the cleaning water and rinse with hot clear water to remove the bleach taste.  The bleach will kill mold and bacteria that may be forming on the inside surfaces of the jug.

Remove the cap and wash it thoroughly in a bleach/water mixture to disinfect the pour spout.  Make sure you circulate water through the spout.

Let the jug sit and dry with the cap off to make sure all moisture is gone.  Placing the jug in the sun will help evaporate water from the inside of the jug.  When you’re sure it’s thoroughly dry, put the cap back on the jug and return it to the Troop.

Clean, potable water is vital to a healthy Troop.  Please help us make sure the water containers are as clean as they can be!


  1. gordy herman says:

    You should use cold water with bleach because the heat kills bleach. Then use hot for your rinse. SM Troop 1011

  2. The Scoutmaster says:

    There’s some debate on this, but the best information I could find was here. Heat accelerates the breakdown of the chemical in bleach, but it doesn’t turn it off altogether. So while hot water and bleach probably still has value, I would agree that a cold bleach rinse to disinfect followed by a hot cleansing rinse is probably the best bang for the buck! Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. In Girl Scouts we are taught that the first step would be the hot wash then the cold rinse with bleach. Also, the cold water rinse would take longer to evaporate to dry so that it has time to sanitize.