Toilet Talk: How Much Water is Used to Flush a Toilet?

Rayna Skiver - Author

Oct. 7 2022, Published 10:37 a.m. ET

How much water does it take to flush a toliet?
Source: iStock

Toilets account for most of the water usage in homes.

Most environmentalists know that saving water is an important part of sustainability. We take faster showers, we don’t let the water run while brushing our teeth, and we aim to install water-efficient appliances. But how much water is used to flush a toilet?

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According to the EPA, the current standards state that it takes 1.6 gallons of water to flush, and with recent advancements, some might take only 1.28 gallons. Older and more inefficient toilets are a whole different story.

How the type of toilet you have affects water usage:

Toilets made before 1985 could take as much as 5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. That’s a lot of water! If a toilet was made between 1985 and 1994, it generally took around 3.5 gallons. So depending on how old the model of your toilet is, the amount of water it takes varies.

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Water use per person per day
Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Population and Housing Unit Estimates Datasets

Everyday each person uses anywhere between 0 to 200 gallons of water in the U.S.

On average, Americans use around 300 gallons of water per day at home. We use water when we take showers, do the laundry, and wash the dishes, but what’s the one thing we do that takes the most water? Yup, you guessed it. Flushing the toilet.

Water is an extremely important aspect of life, and that’s why being mindful of how much we use and how we use it, really matters. Finding ways to save water is always a good start.

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Efficient toilets can reduce water usage by 20 to 60 percent — that’s around 13,000 gallons of water being saved every year. And with the amount of water we use every single day, each gallon counts.

There are a lot of different toilets you can buy that are water efficient. One popular example has two flush functions, which is known as a dual-flush toilet.

Does a toilet with two flush functions actually save water?

A dual-flush toilet has two flush functions. The first button is meant for liquids and uses only about 0.8 gallons per flush, and the second is meant for solids and uses less than 1.6 gallons of water.

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Dual-flush toilet
Source: iStock

Dual-flush toilets are more efficient and can help your household save water.

Standard toilets use a siphoning action which uses more water. Dual-flush toilets are able to save water by avoiding the siphoning action and using a bigger trapway (the hole that’s at the bottom of a toilet).

On average, each household flushes around 5 times a day. And in 2016, less than 40 percent of homes had toilets that met the efficiency criteria. This means that switching to a water-saving toilet can make a huge difference.

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Other ways to save water when flushing:

Dual-flush toilets aren’t the one and only option. There are actually a few different ways people can save water when flushing.

First of all, you might want to check your toilet for leaks. It might seem unnecessary, but even a very small leak can lead to huge amounts of water being wasted over time. According to the EPA, 10,000 gallons of water can be lost to household leaks every year.

Bidet attachment
Source: ISTOCK

Bidets are a good option if you're trying to be more eco-friendly.

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Bidets are another option you can look into. In the U.S., the bidet hasn’t quite caught on yet, but around the world, it’s already very popular. Some people are under the impression that bidets use more water, but that’s not the case.

Not only does flushing use a lot of water, but so does toilet paper. That’s where the bidet comes in. Bidets drastically decrease or eliminate the need for toilet paper.

How does that save water? According to this article from Scientific American, it takes 37 gallons of water to make a single roll of toilet paper. Each person uses around 100 rolls of toilet paper every year — that’s about 3,700 gallons of water to make toilet paper for each person every year.

In conclusion: installing a bidet definitely saves water.

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Clean water access
Source: ISTOCK

Water is an essential part of life and it's important to conserve it.

Having access to clean water is a privilege that not everyone has. It’s important to do everything we can to find more efficient ways to save water.

As the EPA puts it, “The Earth might seem like it has abundant water, but in fact, less than 1 percent is available for human use."

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