How Not to Get Sick and Die from Waterborne Illnesses in Mexico
When we started our Traveling Sabbatical, one of the first things we had to figure out how to not get sick and die from waterborne illnesses in Mexico. We fretted quite a bit about the extent to which we wanted to risk using tap water. Obviously, we couldn’t drink it, but what about brushing our teeth and washing dishes? We perused the expat Facebook groups and saw all manner of debate.
Schools of Thought on Preventing Waterborne Illnesses in Mexico
- Everyone agrees water is cheap and easy to come by so always buy and drink bottled/purified water to prevent waterborne illnesses in Mexico. That’s the end of agreement.
- A subset of the above think it’s fine to cook with tap water since you’re heating it up. Others think it’s not such a great idea for your pasta to absorb what’s in the water.
- Some insist it’s fine to wash your veggies and dishes in tap water. Others are giving them side eye.
- And still another subset brush their teeth with the water. Man, oh man do I ever want to brush my teeth with the tap water. The other side thinks whatever’s in the water will be absorbed in your mouth. #logic
- There’s small vocal group of people who claim the sooner you get sick the sooner you’ll develop the constitution to be able to drink the water and not get sick and die. Everyone else thinks this is bollocks and others think it’s big talk to get the gringos to get sick and die.
What Are We Doing to Prevent Waterborne Illnesses?
After much debate, we decided not to push it. It’s hard enough changing your whole life. We wanted to set ourselves up to like our new lives, so no flesh eating bacterial brain amoebas for us.
We initially decided to:
- Drink bottled water,
- Cook with bottled water,
- Wash veggies and dishes in tap water and rinse them with a bleach solution (1tsp bleach : 1 gallon of water), and
- Brush our teeth with bottled water.
It’s not so bad. We have the time to keep our bodies amoeba-free.
After the first of month, we abandoned brushing our teeth with bottled water and stopped rinsing dishes in bleach to prevent waterborne illnesses in Mexico. We had no problems. We also ate all of the water based fruits and vegetables, drank copious amounts of aguas frescas, and accepted ice from restaurants when it looked like the cubes were dispensed from a machine. We left drinks sweating on the table if the ice looked like it had been broken from a block.
A word on clay pot/ceramic filtration. We’ve come across these in a number of AirBnBs and we have to advise against using them. This is not to knock the science. But, unless you set it up and confirm it works, don’t take the risk. It doesn’t matter if other people use it and don’t get sick. Friends, invite us over we’ll tell you about that time Josh almost died.