How long will water stay fresh in a plastic drum?


plastic storage drum is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to store freshwater for long periods of time. Plastic drums are the perfect solution for mass water storage, offering the capacity to store hundreds of litres in each container, with the option to easily transport or store the drums in bulk.

But while plastic drums look perfect on paper, there are certain rules you need to follow in order to safely store freshwater for the long-term. Correctly stored water can stay fresh for years, but pick the wrong barrels and you could find it’s undrinkable when you need it most.

In this article, we take a look at what you can do to keep your water fresher for longer in plastic drums.


plastic storage drum has a wide range of industrial uses, and water storage is one of the most popular. But can water ever go bad in a plastic drum?

Freshwater, if left alone, will never technically go bad, as long as it’s safe to drink in the first instance and doesn’t come into contact with any contaminating substances. Technically, that means you could keep freshwater stored indefinitely in the right conditions.

Regulations however often state that water should be rotated out of a plastic drum every six months. That’s not because the water goes bad, but because plastic can leach into the water from the plastic barrel over time.

Realistically, if you’re storing the water for your own purposes and not in a commercial capacity, you can keep it in the plastic barrel for longer than six months – years even – without rotation. It’s good practice to change it when you can though, to keep it fresh and to avoid contamination.


If you’re planning on storing water for a long period of time, there are plenty of things to look out for before you start filling up any old plastic barrel.

Here are our top tips for keeping water fresher for longer in a plastic storage drum.


The most important thing to know is that drinking water should only ever be stored in food-grade plastic drums. Most plastic drums are made from HDPE (high-density polyethylene), a type of durable plastic.

Like any plastic, it slowly breaks down over time (a very long time, admittedly). If water is stored in a plastic barrel, plastic can leach into the water and contaminate it. If you’ve ever bought a plastic bottle of water in the shops and re-used it, you’ll notice that after a few weeks the water starts to taste funny. That’s because the plastic leaches into the water.

Food-grade plastic barrels are designed to minimise this process, which means that water stays fresher for longer in storage. If it’s not a food-grade barrel, don’t use it for storing drinking water!


Plastic storage drum have many uses, and they are often re-used in an industrial capacity. For that reason, it’s important to make sure that the drums you’re storing water in haven’t been used to store chemicals previously. If they have, they need to be decontaminated by a professional.

It’s good practice to always clean and disinfect your drums after each use, even if you’re simply rotating stored water and replacing it with fresh water. This will help to avoid any contamination and keep your water fresher for longer.


It’s important to choose your storage location carefully, although if you’re storing drums in an industrial capacity, you might be short on space and have to compromise.

A plastic storage drum should ideally be kept in a cool, dark place, out of direct sunlight. Keep the drums indoors and try to keep them covered if possible. The drums also need to be stored off the ground, and as far away from any chemicals as possible to limit any chance of contamination.


At ITP Packaging, we stock a wide range of containers to meet industrial storage needs. We stock the classic plastic storage drum in a range of designs and capacities to fulfil a variety of functions, including water storage.

Our team are on hand to help you with your industrial packaging needs, and to answer any further questions you might have about storing water in plastic drums. Contact ITP Packaging today to find out more.

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