Is drinking water in Mexico safe? In a word, no.
You should not be drinking water in Mexico. Nobody consumes it, neither Mexicans nor expats.
Often when we travel, we find that we cannot drink the local water because our stomachs are simply not accustomed to it. However, in Mexico, even the locals tend not to drink tap water.
Most find the sheer mention of doing so utterly disgusting. That should tell you everything you need to know about drinking water in Mexico as a tourist!
The water here is not clean. Locals will generally order huge multi-liter bottles of water which they will have delivered to their homes by truck.
If you spend any amount of time in the residential areas of Merida, Playa del Carmen, Mexico City, or other Mexican towns and cities during your trip, you will see these water vans driving around.
While you are unlikely to make use of these water deliveries as a tourist, it is worth being aware of their existence and that this is how locals get their water. You will never find that someone simply pours you a glass of tap water here.
Drinking Water in Mexico
When it comes to drinking water in Mexico, you should stick to purchasing bottled water. Most hotels and Airbnbs will usually leave one or two bottles in your room for when you arrive. These are typically replenished every day.
Aside from that, you can pick up large bottles of water at OXXO convenience stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, and most gift shops. To save both money and plastic waste, consider purchasing a reusable water bottle to carry around with you during your trip.
That way, you can buy very large bottles of water to store in the refrigerator of your hotel or Airbnb. Then, pour an amount into your reusable water bottle.
Invest in a reusable water bottle
There are an abundance of different reusable water bottle brands on the market today. Lifestraw bottles are particularly good.
These lightweight, durable bottles are available in both 22 oz and 1-liter capacities. They are also designed in such a way that they keep the water very cold.
So, even if you are walking around Mayan ruins in the intense Mexican sun all day with your water bottle in your hand or shoved in your backpack, your water will be as ice-cold as it was when you poured it out! Better yet, these bottles contain an extra level of filtration.
This makes sure that the water is super purified. Each purchase provides one child in a developing country with a year’s supply of clean water.
Brands of drinking water in Mexico
The 20-liter (5.3 US gallons) bottles delivered to houses are known in Mexico as ‘garrafones’. You’ll find bottles of 500 ml, 1 liter, or 2 liters in Mexican stores.
Local Mexican brands of water are just as good as renowned water brands and are much more economical. Water is water at the end of the day.
Bonafont, Ciel, Perria and Epura are among the most popular water brands in Mexico. Of course, you will also find more ¨upscale¨ water brands such as Fiji water, Evian, and Perrier widely available too.
Drinking Water in Mexico: What’s Wrong with it ?
The drinking water in Mexico is actually purified at the source. However unfortunately because #Mexico, many of the pipes and distribution systems are often old, faulty, and damaged and so, the water can sometimes become contaminated on its journey to your tap.
There is really no way of knowing exactly how bad the water is in your area without trying it and seeing whether you get sick or not. But generally speaking, that is neither the most pleasant nor advisable thing to try!
Some parts of the country, like Chiapas, are notorious for making people sick. It is better to not risk it. Mexicans don’t, and bottled water is very affordable and widely available.
The water could be (and quite possibly, is) filled with all manner of bacteria, parasites and chemicals. Consuming the water in Mexico is actually one of the main reasons why visitors to the country wind up getting sick.
The water is harder here
As a rule of thumb, you should just assume that the water coming out of your taps is contaminated. The only exception is in some luxury hotels and resorts where the proprietors filter the water for their guests.
If this is the case, you will likely see signs stating ¨agua potable¨ around the property and above the taps. If in doubt, ask someone and double-check before drinking!
The problem with a lot of the tap water in Mexico – from places in the Yucatan to Puerto Vallarta and everywhere in between, is that it is often very hard and filled with sediments. For instance, you could fill a pot up with water and see that it is actually filled with sediments and is very white and salty.
In other words, it is not something that you want to be drinking! You may also want to be careful about washing your face with tap water.
Using the water in Mexico on your hair and body
The water can be very drying on the skin. Keep in mind that it may affect your skin texture or cause outbreaks, even if you do not typically have problem skin.
Similarly, in some parts of the country, the water can dry your scalp and cause itching or irritation. Some long term residents in Mexico will often install water filters onto their shower heads to purify the water that comes out of the tap and onto their bodies!
Can I brush my teeth with tap water?
Brushing your teeth with the tap water in Mexico is usually fine and a lot of both travelers and locals do it. You may only want to be more careful in areas that are known to make people sick, like Chiapas.
Similarly, if you happen to swallow a very tiny amount while brushing your teeth or when showering, don’t freak out. You would have to be very unlucky to get sick from ingesting such a small amount of water.
Can you drink the water at a resort in Mexico?
No. You should never just turn on the tap at a resort in Mexico and just assume the water is fine simply because you are at a luxury resort.
Always ask first. If the water is drinkable, you will usually find that there are signs around the room/the wider resort notifying you as such.
Agua frescas and other water-based drinks in Mexico
Agua frescas are among the most popular Mexican drinks and you will find them sold virtually everywhere. Hotels, restaurants, taquerias, and street food vendors all sell them.
You will also find independent vendors selling 500 ml and liter bottles of agua frescas on the side of the road and outside supermarkets. They are made by blending fruit with water, fresh lime, and a dash of sugar.
You will find countless variations of agua frescas all over the country. Rest assured, the drinks are prepared using filtered water so even the homemade versions are safe to drink.
Be sure to sample horchata and Jamaica – two of the most popular variations. You will also find agua frescas prepared with certain Mexican fruits that are native to specific parts of the country.
For instance, in Campeche city, piña con chaya is a popular choice. This is water blended with fresh pineapple, sugar, and chaya – a Yucatecan version of spinach.
Preparing fruits and vegetables with water in Mexico
If you stay in self-catered accommodation in Mexico, you should wash the fruits and vegetables you prepare in bottled water, rather than with tap water. Due to the bacteria and pesticides that may be found on the fruit, you need to also use an antibacterial, anti-germ solution such as Microdyn.
This washes the fruits and veggies more thoroughly. You generally need to fill up a bowl with bottled water, add 2-3 drops of the solution and then wait for 10-15 minutes, depending on the amount of items you are cleaning.
Obviously, when you are preparing your own food, you have more control over this. If you eat salads and vegetable dishes outside, you are at the mercy of someone else washing the items.
You shouldn’t really be concerned about this. Locals have been washing fruit and veg with bottled water and the necessary solutions all their lives.
It is an automatic process for them to use the necessary solutions and bottled water instead of tap water. It also isn’t worth the risk of their businesses reputation.
Still, if you are really concerned, you can opt to only eat tropical fruits and veggies where you do not eat the skin. For instance, avocados, papayas, etc.
Can you drink the water in Mexico if you boil it?
You are safe to consume the water in Mexico if you boil it. The boiling process kills off any germs and bacteria that may be found within.
Still, some people still prefer to prepare cups of coffee and tea with bottled water. It is safe to cook rice, pasta, boiled veggies, among other dishes, with the water in Mexico.
Do you have any additional questions about drinking water in Mexico or planning a trip here in general? I live in Merida in the Yucatan.
Feel free to drop a comment below. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
Safe travels! Hasta Luego! Melissa xo