Drinking Water in Mexico: When to Avoid it & Alternative Options

One of the biggest questions I get in regards to safety in Mexico is “can you drink the water in Mexico?”

The answer is almost always a big fat no.

However, I don’t believe it has to be this huge concern and for the most part, as long as you are using common sense and you know a little bit about how the water situation works around Mexico, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

Why Can’t I Drink the Water in Mexico?

For the most part, water around Mexico, especially here in Mexico City is purified. The problem is that the method of transporting the water from the treatment centers to the tap where the water comes out is often old, full of heavy metals, and sometimes a touch dirty.

Here’s the thing. I have friends that were born and raised here in Mexico City and they always drink tap water. They make ice from tap water, they drink it by the glassful. And they’ve never had a problem. I have other friends who are expats here in Mexico and they have had the tap water once and been sick. This is all likely to do with our stomachs not being used to the types of bacteria here.

The bottom line is you don’t have to be crazy fearful of the tap water in Mexico, but it’s best to avoid drinking it if you’re new to the country.

drinking water in mexico

Should I Avoid Ice in Mexico?

This is a question I get a lot. I think the Mexico of old probably had a few issues in the 80’s and 90’s with tourists who came to the country and perhaps got a touch of Moctezuma’s Revenge. However, these days every single reputable restaurant and most of the not so reputable restaurants use filtered water to make ice cubes.

Don’t worry about the ice in your drink when you’re visiting Mexico, it’s been made to ensure you don’t get sick. Plus, it’s hot here, nobody wants a lukewarm cocktail.

restaurants in Puerto Escondido
I drank fresh juice blended with ice in Puerto Escondido without any problems!

Using Tap Water in Mexico to Clean Your Food

I’ve been living in Mexico City for over two years now and I have always used just regular tap water to rinse my fruits and vegetables. If I’m going to eat raw leaves like lettuce, kale, or spinach, then I’ll make sure it’s nice and dried off before I eat them. Otherwise, if I’m just rinsing them to cook them then I’ll just give them a quick wash and then start chopping.

I know a lot of people who perhaps have more sensitive stomachs or they simply want to be extra careful. If that’s you, then you may want to purchase what’s called Microdyn.

Microdyn is a solution that you mix with water (in this case it would be the tap water in Mexico) in order to clean your fruits and vegetables. It kills off most of the germs not only on the fruits and veggies, but also in the tap water.

You can purchase Microdyn before your trip here on Amazon. If you are already in Mexico, head to a large chain grocery store like Chedraui, Superama, or Walmart to find it.

what to eat in mexico city

Using Tap Water in Mexico to Brush Your Teeth

I have no problem using the tap water to brush my teeth and the thought of using bottled water to do so makes me giggle a little. When I traveled through South East Asia, I used bottled water to brush my teeth because often the water was not even pumped in (it came from the nearby river or something).

But here in Mexico, you can definitely brush your teeth with the tap water, so long as you aren’t swallowing it.

Using Tap Water in Mexico for Tea and Coffee

Some say that unless you are going to bring the water up to a complete boil for over a minute, that you should use filtered water. I think this is the safest option. If you are in your hotel room or Airbnb and you want to make coffee, then I recommend using filtered water. It’s not only safer, but it tastes a lot better, too.

I personally use the tap water here in Mexico City to make coffee and tea, but when I travel to other parts of the country that I don’t know as well, I always use filtered water to make coffee.

making coffee with tap water in mexico

So What Water Should You Drink in Mexico?

You have a couple of options for drinking water when you come to Mexico. If you are going to be staying in one place for several days, I highly recommend buying a large 20-liter bottle. These bottles are sterilized and refilled with filtered water so there is no plastic waste created. They usually cost between 25 and 45 Pesos depending on where you are in the country (in my experience Mexico City is the most expensive).

You can buy them from almost any convenience store. If you are staying at an Airbnb, they should provide at least one of these for you as well as a mechanism that makes it easier to pump the water out of it (tipping it into a glass is basically impossible unless you want to spill water ALLL over the place).

Otherwise, if you are just traveling for a short period of time, you can buy 1.5-liter, 1-liter and 500-ml bottles from convenience stores like Oxxo, 7-11, or local non-chain stores. A 500ml bottle costs about 5-10 Pesos, and you can get a 1.5-liter for between 10 and 20 Pesos.

Filter Water Bottles for Travel

If you will be in Mexico for more than a few days, if you travel here frequently, or if you travel to lots of countries where the water isn’t safe to drink, I highly recommend investing in a good filter water bottle.

Not only do you reduce your plastic waste, but it’s SO much more convenient to be able to fill up your bottle at any water source and know that when you take a sip, it’s safe to drink.

I’ve tried a few different bottles over the years and these are definitely my favorites.

water bottles to use in Mexico

Lifestraw Go Bottle: The Lifestraw Go bottle is the first one that I bought when I moved to Mexico. I like it because you simple unscrew the top, fill the bottle to the line, screw it back in and you can suck the water straight through the filter straw. There’s no water for the water to be filtered, you can just drink on demand like you would with any other bottle.

The negatives of the Lifestraw Go bottle are that it is sometimes hard to suck the water through the straw. It’s not as easy as a normal straw. You also can’t let the filter dry out. If it dries out, it has to sit and soak in water again for almost 24 hours before it will work again. However, it filters out 99.99% of bacteria and heavy metals, which means you can take this anywhere and still enjoy clean drinking water.

Buy a Lifestraw Go Bottle here $38. 

filter water bottles for mexico

Thermos NSF/ANSI Certified Tritan Water Filtration Bottle: This guy is pretty great and really perfect for camping and filtering out tap water in Mexico. I like it because it pushes the gunk from the water to the bottom and then allows you to simply open the top and drink the clean water as normal. No need to use a straw or suck up the water.

The negative for me is that you have to replace the filter after 20 gallons of water. In my opinion, that’s not a huge amount. The Lifestraw go filter lasts for 260 gallons.

Buy a Thermos water bottle here $33.

filter water bottles for travel

GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier: By far the most expensive water bottle on this list, this is for those of you that love to go hiking, camping, are traveling to Mexico as well as other countries where you can’t drink the water. It is my favorite on the list (my mother always told me that I have expensive taste) and is the one that I come back to again and again wherever I travel.

It cleans the water as well as the Lifestraw Go bottle, but there’s no messing around with straws or worrying about the filter drying out. It’s a nice looking water bottle and is super easy to clean.

Buy a Grayl water bottle here $59

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Drinking water in Mexico - what you need to know about tap water in Mexico, where to buy cheap water in mexico, whether or not to avoid ice in mexico, and what alternatives you can use to avoid creating too much plastic waste!

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