Mexico is notorious for the questionable quality of its drinking water. If you are a first-time traveler to Mexico and are concerned about whether or not you are safe to drink the water, this article will answer your questions.
The last thing you want during your vacation in Mexico is to get some stomach bug because you drank water that was not properly filtered. This guide will teach you the ins and outs of drinking water in Mexico, what you are okay to drink, and what you should avoid.
Can You Drink the Tap Water in Mexico?
In a word, no. The tap water in Mexico is not properly filtered for drinking. Therefore there is no guarantee to ensure that it is safe for you to drink.
In fact, even native Mexicans typically try to avoid drinking the tap water.
Your best bet is to always drink purified bottled water.
This way, you can feel confident that the water you are drinking is safe for you. Furthermore, you can avoid coming down with a bug that would end up making your trip very unpleasant.
If you are wondering why there is a good chance that you will come down with a bug from drinking the water in Mexico, it is a twofold answer.
Firstly, as previously mentioned, the standards of filtration are not as rigorous in Mexico as they are in other countries.
Secondly, even if the water is, in fact, drinkable, the Mexican filtration standards may be different than the country you are from. Therefore, your body might be dealing with water that it is not familiar with and as a result, you may get sick.
Even though there may not be any imminent danger to your health, because your body is not conditioned to process this water, there is a good chance you will deal with an upset stomach.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control has estimated that nearly 30 to 70% of travelers will experience some form of an upset stomach due to the water.
However, to give credit where credit is due, the filtration standards for drinking water in Mexico have greatly improved in recent years.
As previously mentioned, you can avoid problems with the Mexican tap water by relying instead on purified bottled water for your main source of hydration.
You can find bottled water nearly anywhere, but make sure not to get ripped off when buying it.
Local brands of bottled water are often filtered to the same standards as brands you might be familiar with, however, local brands will cost a fraction of the price.
If you are staying in a resort while in Mexico, it is possible that the resort you have chosen has a water filtration system available on the premises.
If this is the case, you should feel perfectly safe refilling your water bottles from the water there. As always, if you have questions, ask the staff of your resort.
Ice In Your Drink In Mexico – Is It Safe?
Ice is a little bit more tricky to talk about.
If you are eating in a hotel or in a restaurant, you will probably be fine with the ice they use. Especially if they are a reputable resort, hotel or restaurant and have good reviews online.
If you are unsure, you can always ask the staff to confirm.
However, if you are drinking something from a street vendor or a more local vendor, it is better to err on the side of caution and avoid ice.
Can You Brush Your Teeth With Tap Water In Mexico?
You should exercise the same caution when brushing your teeth with tap water as you do with drinking water in Mexico.
It may be safe for you to use it if you are careful to ensure you spit out all of the water you use to brush your teeth. However, it is much safer to use bottled water when brushing your teeth.
It is not worth taking the risk, so if possible, stick with using purified bottled water and you will be fine.
Again, there are some established resorts and hotels in which the tap water is safe to use for brushing your teeth. Be sure to ask a staff member or the front desk when you check-in.
General Tips To Avoid Getting Sick From The Water In Mexico
The most important thing that you can do to stay safe while vacationing in Mexico is to be proactive and be assertive. At the end of the day, you are in charge of your health, and you need to look out for yourself.
Naturally, following the rules above is important—they cover the basics and if you follow them, you will be fine. However, if you want some more tips to be thorough, consider the following rules:
1. Always Drink Bottled Water
Insist on drinking bottled water when in a restaurant and throughout your day to remain hydrated.
Even though you might assume that a location will serve you purified water, do not take the risk. By being assertive and requesting bottled water, you will save yourself from worrying whether or not the water was safe to drink.
As a result, you will know with the utmost confidence that the water you are drinking is safe. If you are eating at a market or from a vendor outside, bring water with you or buy a sealed bottle.
If you follow this rule, you will make sure that all of the water you drink while on your trip is safe.
2. Avoid Raw Fruit And Vegetables
You should also avoid eating salads, or anything with raw fruits and vegetables for that matter.
Germs and bacteria can stay on lettuce or other greens even after they have been rinsed in water. Furthermore, the restaurant you are at may have cleaned the fruit and vegetables with tap water, instead of filtered water.
Choosing to eat raw fruits and vegetables opens yourself up to potentially becoming sick and ruining your vacation. Don’t take the risk and stick with eating foods that you know have been cooked properly.
3. Look For Restaurants And Resorts With Distintivo H Classifications
There is one exception to the two rules above. Restaurants and resorts are in Mexico able to achieve a certification that guarantees that they meet specific standards of maintaining customer health.
It is called the Distintivo H classification, and if you see it in your restaurant or resort, you can safely drink the water or eat salads.
The standards required to be awarded the Distintivo H classification are very rigorous. Furthermore, a restaurant or resort which has received this classification proves that they are complying with the highest hygiene food standards.
This classification allows you to feel confident that the food and drinks you will be given in an establishment in Mexico will be safe to consume and meet a required level of hygiene.
4. Bring A Portable Water Filter With You
If you are into outdoor camping or backpacking, you likely already have a portable water filter. If not, you can pick one up relatively cheap.
Portable water filters are designed for those who will be filtering water while on a wilderness adventure. Or on a trip to a foreign country, such as Mexico, where you are unsure of the quality of drinking water.
Most filters are small in size, light weight, and are able to filter contaminated water into clean drinking water in a matter of minutes.
Check out the article we recently wrote about the best water filters for backpacking, that will also work perfectly for your upcoming trip to Mexico.
It is always better to be over-prepared than underprepared. As these water filters will only take up a small portion of your suitcase, why not bring one with you on your next trip to Mexico?
5. Remember You Are Not In Your Home Country
All of these rules can be summed up very simply by remembering to be smart.
Remember, you are in a country with different standards for purification and quality of water. Never assume the water will be safe to drink.
If you do not know where your water came from, ask and make sure that it is purified. Furthermore, if it is not, be sure to request purified water.
If you ever find yourself questioning whether the water is safe to drink, the best option is to use bottled water and save yourself from worrying.
Why Can’t You Drink The Water In Mexico?
For those of you wondering why drinking tap water in Mexico is not safe, the simple answer is that Mexico does not adhere to the same standards of purity that are used in the United States and many other countries.
This means that, after their water is filtered, it is likely that there are various viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can give you stomach issues.
Even if the organisms that can be found in the water are not lethal, they will still do enough damage to make your stomach feel upset and potentially cancel any plans you have for going out.
There is room for hope, though. Mexico has recently seen some marked improvement in the quality of their water, but not enough yet to allow you to drink it without filtering it additionally.
What If I Drink The Water In Mexico?
It happens to the best of us.
Perhaps you are really thirsty and grab the nearest cup of water without thinking. Or you forget to use bottled water when brushing your teeth and use tap water instead.
If this happens to you, don’t panic.
If you do start to feel symptoms of sickness and stomach flu, take some Pepto-Bismol or Imodium to help reduce any unpleasant symptoms. ]
However, the best plan is to talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional. Most likely the stomach bug will pass in a day or two, but it is always better to be safe and talk to a professional.
Taking a trip to Mexico can be an exciting time! Don’t let this talk about drinking the water in Mexico dampen your mood.
Remember the basic rule of being smart about what you drink and keep your wits about you. This will help you avoid any sickness from tap water while in Mexico.
Finally, as discussed previously, always remember to check where exactly your water came from, and if unsure, request bottled water.
For any comments, questions or feedback you might have, please send us a message through our contact form.
Be sure to consult your health care professional with any medical questions. Similarly, the information found in this article should not be considered medical advice.