What Happens if You Drink Moldy Water?

  • By: Monica Shulz

If you drink moldy water, it can lead to: short-term health problems, including diarrhea, allergic reactions like rashes, respiratory issues, etc.

It can also result in or exacerbate long-term illnesses such as toxic mold syndrome or asthma, especially if people drinking it have underlying health problems.1

To avoid these issues, you have to ensure that you have a clean, mold-free drinking water supply. In this article, we’ll be by sharing everything about moldy water and how you can keep your water supply mold-free.

Drinking Moldy Water

  • What is mold?
  • Sources of mold in water
  • Conditions that promote mold growth in water

What is Mold?

Mold is a fungus. They can be found in indoor and outdoor areas. They can grow on any surface as long as three key ingredients – moisture, warmth, and a nutrient source – are present.

You can find them in damp areas like kitchens, bathrooms, basements, etc. While some mold species are harmless, some release substances called Mycotoxins that can be harmful to humans.

Some of these species include; Black mold, Aspergillus, Trichoderma, Penicillium, etc.

Sources of Mold in Water

Mold can find its way into the drinking water supply from different sources. They reproduce by releasing tiny microscopic spores into the air.

These spores are practically everywhere in the environment and are invisible to the naked eye. If they land on uncovered water sources with favorable conditions, they grow, form colonies, and contaminate the water source.

They can also enter water sources through cracks and holes in pipes. In fact, most authorities recommend avoiding pipe-borne water after natural disasters as it might’ve been compromised.2

Additionally, household fixtures like taps, water filters, etc., can become breeding grounds for mold, especially if you do not change or clean them regularly3.

Conditions that Promote Mold Growth in Water

As mentioned earlier, mold needs three things to grow and thrive: Moisture, warmth, and a nutrient source. It often finds all three in stagnant, uncovered water sources.

The still water makes it easier for the mold spores to attach and grow on the water body. Also, in pipes, bottles, containers, wells, and other sources, there can be buildups of organic matter that can serve as nutrients for the mold.

The organic matter can be dead plants, bits of leftover food, etc.4

Health Risks of Drinking Moldy Water

  • Digestive System Effects
  • Respiratory System Effects
  • Other Potential Health Effects

Digestive System Effects

  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and cramping

Gastrointestinal Disturbances

Gastrointestinal disturbances usually come with symptoms like diarrhea and increased flatulence due to Mycotoxins in the digestive tract.

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are two common reactions to mold in drinking water. The mold gives the water a particular smell and taste that can induce these symptoms in the person who drinks it.

Abdominal Pain and Cramping

Moldy water can also disrupt your gut health and irritate your stomach, leading to stomach aches and cramps. The Mycotoxins can interfere with the good bacteria living in the gut and sometimes weaken the intestinal lining.5

Respiratory System Effects

  • Allergic reactions
  • Asthma exacerbation
  • Respiratory infections

Allergic Reactions

Mold in the air or the water supply can trigger allergic reactions like a stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, etc. Depending on the person’s sensitivity, these reactions can range from mild to very serious.

For some, the reaction can be severe, requiring medical intervention.

Asthma Exacerbation

Mold and moldy water can be quite dangerous to people living with asthma. They can trigger asthma attacks that leave the person wheezing and with severe breathing difficulties.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections can also result from drinking moldy water, especially in people with weak immune systems. The symptoms can range from mild ones like a sore throat to more serious illnesses like Pneumonia.6

Other Potential Health Effects

  • Headaches and fatigue
  • Skin irritation and rashes
  • Weakened immune system

Headaches and Fatigue

Mycotoxins in the water supply can cause persistent headaches and fatigue. It can irritate the eyes, nervous system, and other organs, leading to these symptoms.

Skin Irritation and Rashes

People with pre-existing allergies to mold can develop rashes in response to drinking moldy water. This rash comes with itchy, dry, and scaly skin.

Other skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis can result from drinking moldy water.

Weakened Immune System

Mold can be harmful to those with compromised immune systems. The Mycotoxins can further weaken the immune system and result in various sicknesses and illnesses.7

In people like this, the effects of drinking moldy water are pretty severe and can, in some cases, be life-threatening.

Identifying Moldy Water

  • Visible signs of mold
  • Musty or unpleasant odor
  • Changes in water color and taste

Visible Signs of Mold

If your water supply is infested with mold, there will be visible signs around it. Inspect your bottles, pipes, filter cartridges, and other water containers for moldy, organic growth.

Sometimes, people can confuse calcium deposits from hard water for mold growth. To avoid this, try rubbing the growth with your fingers.

If it comes off easily, then it is mold.

Musty or Unpleasant Odor

Moldy water has a distinct sour, earthy, musty smell. Smell your running water, bottles, and other water containers like tanks.

If you get a whiff of a strong, earthy, musty scent, then you might have a mold problem.8

Changes in Water Color and Taste

If you notice a funky taste in your water and a change in color, you might be drinking moldy water. You can confirm this using any of the two tests above.

You can also call professionals to do a proper water test to detect mold. They have tests for detecting mold, no matter how small the concentration.

Or you can also test it yourself with a DIY kit:
DIY Mold Test Kit for Home
Mold Armor Test Kit
Healthful 5 min Test Kit

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention methods

  • Proper water storage and handling
  • Regular cleaning and maintenance
  • Filtering and purifying water

Proper Water Storage and Handling

To avoid drinking moldy water, you must ensure mold doesn’t find its way into your water supply. Ensure you always keep water sources like tanks and wells properly closed and sealed.

Also, ensure you keep these sources at low temperatures, if possible. This makes it difficult for mold to thrive inside them.9

Also, make sure you keep your bottles and other water sources closed. Finally, if you’re going to be drinking tap water, check with your local authorities to see if the water is safe to drink.

If you have been asking yourself: “Is Dallas tap water safe to drink?”. The best place to get these kind of information is from the local authorities. And also have in mind that these things can vary depending on what is happening in your local area.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Practicing good hygiene can prevent mold from growing in your water supply. This involves washing your water containers like tanks regularly with a good disinfectant to prevent bacteria from growing.

Also, you should wash your bottles regularly using white vinegar to eliminate any fungal or bacterial growth. Check your taps and pipes regularly for mold and any leakages that mold can use to enter the system.

Finally, make sure you clean or change your water filters or cartridges regularly.

Filtering and Purifying Water

You can also avoid drinking moldy water by installing water filters in your home. Most homeowners recommend using reverse osmosis filters, as they provide the best defense against mold.

Also, if you’re going to be storing water long-term in places like tanks or wells, you can preserve them to avoid mold contamination. To do this, you can add water preserves or simply unscented bleach to the water for this.

The Washington department of health recommends adding two drops of unscented bleach per gallon of water.10

What to Do if You Have Consumed Moldy Water

  • Recognize symptoms
  • Seek medical advice
  • Follow appropriate treatment protocols

Recognize Symptoms

We’ve listed some of the common adverse effects of consuming moldy water above. You can review the list and check if you are suffering from any symptoms.


Seek Medical Advice

If you suffer from any mold exposure-related symptoms, you should see a medical professional quickly. They’ll provide the right treatment plan for him.

Follow Appropriate Treatment Protocols

Once you’ve gotten the treatment plan from the doctor, follow it to the letter to get back to good health. Also, check your water source and uncover the source of the mold contamination.

Once you’ve uncovered it, make sure you remove the mold and take steps to stop it from re-occurring.


Mold-contaminated water can harbor various potential health risks, from respiratory problems and allergic reactions to more severe complications in individuals with compromised immune systems.

Recognizing the importance of clean drinking water and the potential hazards of mold contamination is crucial in safeguarding our well-being. Vigilance in ensuring water quality, proper sanitation, and regular maintenance can help prevent the proliferation of mold and minimize the risks posed by moldy water.


1: https://www.nj.gov/health/ceohs/environmental-occupational/mold/

2: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/foodwater/safe-water.html#:~:text=If%20you%20don’t%20have,viruses%2C%20bacteria%2C%20and%20parasites.

3: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5486322/

4: https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm

5: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5834427/

6: https://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/mold/index.html

7: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6351985/

8: https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C1016&title=your-household-water-quality-odors-in-your-water

9: https://beready.utah.gov/family-preparedness/12-areas-of-preparedness/water/

10: https://doh.wa.gov/emergencies/be-prepared-be-safe/severe-weather-and-natural-disasters/water-purification

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