Why Does My Water Taste Like Plastic? (a Dietician Explains)

🤝 Our content is written by humans, not AI robots. Learn More

Have you ever been drinking your tap water and taste a hint of plastic? It’s not the most pleasant, is it? Well, there are a variety of reasons why your water supply may taste like this.

In this article we will talk about why this happens, explore health risks associated with plastic pipes and plastic tasting water, and what you can do to get rid of that unpleasant taste!

📌 Key Takeaways

  • The plastic taste you find in some water typically comes from the plastic pipes or water bottle you use.
  • You can get rid of the plastic taste in your water by flushing your pipes or cleaning your water bottle.
  • There is not enough evidence to determine if plastic pipes are hazardous to human health. However, it is important to be cautious because of some of the research.

📋 The Reasons Why Your Water Tastes Like Plastic

Sometimes, if your water supply has a plastic smell or taste it is related to the plumbing or what you’re drinking out of ie. water bottles.

What is My Home’s Plumbing Made of?

There is a variety of different types of piping including copper, steel, lead and plastic pipes. All these can impact the taste of your water supply.

Copper and steel pipes are being replaced by plastic pipes due to its cost effectiveness. Plastic is much cheaper.

Certain types of plastic are more likely to lead to a plastic taste in your water. Some research has demonstrated that plastics like HDPE, PEX-a and PEX-b are mostly likely to cause a plastic taste while cPVC has a lower odor potential and doesn’t release many organic chemicals.

HPDE water pipes in basement

Did You Get New Plumbing?

Sometimes, if your water tastes like plastic, even a new faucet may lead to that unpleasant taste.

It is important to remember that taste and smell are interconnected, so if you smell the plastic from the newly installed plastic pipe, this may also contribute if your tap water tastes like plastic.

If you have new plastic plumbing the taste tends to fade quickly and largely depends on the amount of water you use.

Typically, after two months, most of the odors and water quality effects are minimal. However, when a household uses more water the odor and taste tend to fade more quickly.

Did You Recently Move?

If you recently moved into a new house and your water tastes different, it could be due to the different mineral content across municipalities. Minerals like iron, zinc and manganese occur naturally in water sources. It could just be the different mineral concentrations affecting the taste of your water.

Are Your Pipes Old?

On the other hand, if your water tastes funny and plumbing hasn’t been replaced in a while, your old plumbing materials and pipes could be what is causing the issue. Most of the time this may cause a metallic taste but a plastic taste can also occur.

Old plastic water pipe

Where Are You Drinking Your Water From?

When drinking water from a plastic water bottle or container, the water might have picked up a plastic taste. This happens a lot especially if the container was not properly cleaned or if it was made of low-quality plastic.

If you prefer to keep the water bottle, one way to get rid of the plastic flavor is by filling the water bottle with warm water and a tablespoon of baking soda.

After about an hour the taste should be gone. Just hand wash it after to get rid of the baking soda flavor!

If there is a plastic, musty, or chlorine taste coming from your bottled water it’s probably not safe to drink. Toss it out!

Continue Reading: What to do when bottled water tastes weird

🤔 Is it Safe to Consume Water That Tastes Like Plastic?

The different types of plastic piping listed earlier are all approved and certified to be used in drinking and tap water applications by a third party called National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF International).

This is a company that certifies different products and works to develop public health standards and certification programs. Their goal is to protect the world’s food and water supplies as well as consumer products.

While these plastic pipes are approved and certified by this third party, one thing to note is NSF does not make their results public. Also, just because these plastic pipes are approved and certified, it does not necessarily mean there are no ill health effects. It just may mean there isn’t enough research to support it.

Woman drinking water that tastes like plastic

🩺 The Health Risks of Plastic Pipes

Overall, the verdict is still undecided and there is not enough research and knowledge regarding the possible health hazards of plastic piping. However, there are some concerns that it may leach harmful chemicals.

Leaching Harmful Chemicals

There are a number of studies that suggest some plastic pipes leach harmful chemicals. Some studies demonstrated that there were carcinogenic, volatile organic compounds migrating from the pipes into the drinking water.

An assistant professor named Dr. Andrew Whelton, at the Purdue University Lyles School of Civil Engineering and Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering, has been researching the safety of plastic pipes since 2014.

The studies that his team has conducted, show concerns that some brands exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines and leached toxic chemicals such as toluene and MTBE.

Toluene is neurotoxic, while MTBE is a carcinogen that has been previously banned as an additive to gasoline. Even though it is banned as an additive to gasoline, it is also a byproduct during PEX pipe manufacturing.

On the other hand, there was a study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health that demonstrated there were no health risks associated with drinking water from PEX pipes.

It also concluded that the level of volatile compounds leaked from the new PEX pipes was generally low and decreased with use.

🚫 How to Get Rid of the Plastic Tap Water Taste

Flush Your Pipes

If your tap water tastes like plastic one of the best things you can do is flush out your pipes.

Particularly if you recently had new (plastic) pipes installed, Dr. Whelton recommends you flush your pipes to help reduce chemicals that can leach into your tap water.

Reverse Osmosis System

One of the best ways to remove all unpleasant tastes and odors in your tap water is by installing a reverse osmosis water filtration system.

This process helps to remove chemicals, metals, and other dissolved solids that affect the tap water quality. Bottled water products also use this process.

👨‍🔧 Check out our Expert Reviews of the Best Reverse Osmosis Systems in 2024.

Dispensing water from the Waterdrop N1 RO system

❔ Frequently Asked Questions:

Is it OK to Drink Water That Tastes Like Plastic?

There isn’t enough research to support the hazardous effects of plastic tasting tap water.

However experts recommend that if you have new piping, you flush your pipes and avoid drinking from the tap for a minimum of a few weeks (the longer the better).

How Do You Get The Plastic Taste Out of Water?

If your water tastes like plastic here are a few things you can do:

  1. Flush your pipes
  2. Clean your water bottle (if you’re using one)
  3. Use a water filtration system

Why Does My Water Bottle Make My Water Taste Like Plastic?

It may be because your water bottle is old, made with low quality plastic, or it has not been properly cleaned recently. To get rid of the plastic flavor, consider cleaning it with baking soda and warm water.

  • Roxanne Trotter
    MS, RDN

    Registered Dietitian Roxy, fueled by her love for food and wellness, tackles misinformation head-on. Her Master's in Human Nutrition and diverse experience (weight management, hospitals) equip her to translate complex health topics, especially those related to water quality. Through her own practice (Nutremedies LLC) and writing for Water Filter Guru, Roxy empowers readers with accurate, evidence-based information, helping them make informed choices for a healthier life, one sip at a time.

Scroll to Top