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How to remove chlorine from drinking water

Chlorine sign

If the smell of your tap water gives you flashbacks to summers spent by the pool, it’s likely there’s high levels of chlorine in your drinking water.

Treatment plants throughout Australia use chlorine to neutralise bacteria, parasites, viruses, and various harmful microorganisms before drinking water is distributed to households.

Even though chlorine in water is a common additive, it’s important to identify the reasons why your water is emitting a noticeable odour so that you can fix the issue and get back to enjoying crisp, scentless water again. This scent can sometimes also be recognised as a bleach smell.


4 Ways to remove chlorine from tap water

  1. Fill a carafe with water in the morning and let it sit for 24 hours in the open air or in the refrigerator. Drink throughout the day.
  2. Boil the water for 15 minutes and let it cool. Drink throughout the day.
  3. Invest in a filter jug: ideal solution for families.
  4. Invest in a water dispenser with purification system: an ideal solution for businesses.

Quick facts about chlorine in drinking water

  • Chlorine is added into our tap water supplies to help reduce the chance of harmful waterborne bacteria spreading through the water, such as E. coli and the norovirus.
  • The strength of the smell of chlorine in your water will usually depend on the distance of which your public water source is from your household. However, the smell can also be affected by the temperature of the water, as colder water can hold on to chlorine for longer.
  • Over time, chlorinated water will naturally lose its smell, but if preferred using a filtration system will eliminate the odour immediately.
  • On rare occasions, high levels of chlorine consumption can have serious health implications.
  • If you're concerned about the levels of chlorine in your tap water, we advise you contact your local government department which is listed at the end of this article.


Why is chlorine in your drinking water?

“Ideally, drinking water should be, clear, colourless, and well aerated with no unpalatable taste or odours. It should contain no suspended matter, harmful chemical substances or pathogenic micro-organisms”.

- The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines


Chlorine is used for water treatment as it is the most cost-effective method for treating the many of the bacteria that could be lurking within public pools and drinking water supplies.

Before making its way into our taps and drinking glasses, water goes through several steps of treatment before making its way to building's taps and into our drinking glass. Chlorine is used as one of the final treatments in order to kill any possible remaining parasites, bacteria and viruses, in a process called chlorination.

Chlorination disinfects the water, protecting it from germs which may be lurking the in the pipes as it travels through the community and into our homes or workplaces.

Yet despite its germ busting qualities, chlorine can be harmful to our health. However, it’s often not chlorine alone that’s the problem as harmful by-products can emerge when chlorine-treated water enters and passes through any water distribution system.


Is chlorine in water bad for you?

The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines recommend a safe chlorine to water ratio of 5mg to every litre. Typically, the chlorine levels found across Australian are considerably lower than that, sitting between 0.5mg to 1.5mg per litre.


What are the main health risks of high chlorine levels?

The health risks associated with chlorine consumption can differ in severity depending on the level of contamination. In most instances, low levels of chlorine consumption will pose no adverse health effects from this contaminant. In fact, the Government of Western Australia have found consumption of up to ten times their recommendation level to be safe.

However, there are dangers associated with long-term consumption of high levels of chlorine, including links to serious health issues. Some studies have also found that by-products of chlorination are associated with an increase in cancer risk, though these findings are not proven

In rare cases, consuming large amounts of this chemical has been found to be linked to reduced fertility.


Do high levels of chlorine affect fertility?

High levels of chlorine consumption have been linked to fertility issues. A study by Joseph Pizzorno in 2018 found that high levels of consumption of a chlorine by product known as THMs by pregnant women increased likelihood of stillbirth and smaller babies.


How to remove chlorine from drinking water

Do water filters remove chlorine from tap water?

Yes, water filter dispensers remove chlorine from your water as well as reducing or removing other chemicals in your water. Making your water smell better and taste purer.

Does boiling remove chlorine from water?

Yes, boiling water for 15 minutes will remove all of the chlorine form tap water. Alternatively, leave a jug of water uncovered at room temperature for at least 24 hours and the chlorine will evaporate without boiling.

Does charcoal remove chlorine from water?

Yes, Charcoal carbon filters are the most effective way to remove chlorine from water as they remove sediment, chlorine and other contaminants, neutralizing bad tastes and odours from your water whilst allowing naturally occurring and beneficial minerals to pass through to guarantee great-tasting, clear water.


Who to contact if you are worried about the levels of chlorine in your water supply

For more information about chlorine in drinking water, get in touch with your local water supplier or government health department using the details below.

Western Australia

The Western Australian Health Department can be contacted on 08 9222 2000.

Northern Australia

Northern Australia is a territory with a wide array of public bodies that serve individual regions; visit the Department of Health for the Northern Territory Government website for more information.


For contact details for The Queensland Government Department of Energy and Water Supply, follow this link.

South Australia

South Australia’s water entities are publicly owned by and known as SA Water; you can contact them via the SA Water contact page.

New South Wales

Contact the NSW Ministry of Health via their contact page here.


Victoria undertake an annual report of the water quality throughout the state, download the 2020-2021 report here.

Should you have concerns about your water supply in Victoria, you can contact the government’s dedicated department for their water program on 1300 761 874 (during business hours) or by email:


What else is in my water?

Learn how to treat other water contaminants with our educational resource ‘What’s in my tap water ’.