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Why Does My Water Taste like Dirt?

Do you know? At this moment, millions of California residents have tap water that tastes like dirt. Most of California is experiencing drought, making the water taste and smells like earthy and dirt.

Although California is new to dirt odor, most of the water in dry and drought-prone regions smells and tastes like dirt.

However, it is not limited; even municipal water sometimes tastes like dirt due to extreme climate change and water scarcity.

But why? What are the possible reasons? And is water that tastes like water is harmful? Well, let’s find out in this article.


Why does water taste like dirt?

Why does water taste like dirt

Many of you might think that soil particles are the reason for the dirt odor in your water. However, there are other reasons which you don’t know, such as chemical compounds. Here are the reasons for the earthy smell of water.



Geosmin is the most naturally occurring cause for water tasting like dirt. Surface water resources such as rivers, lakes, and ponds have algae that produce Geosmin chemicals.

Other than algae, some bacteria such as Streptomyces and cyanobacteria found in the soil also make Geosmin.

Do you have noticed that beet has the same dirt smell? It’s due to Geosmin, which is also found in beets giving it an earthy odor and taste. During summers, the growth of bacteria and algae bloom leads to more production of Geosmin.

We humans are very sensitive to Geosmin. If there are 10 nano gm per liter of Geosmin in your liquid, you can easily smell that!

The good thing is that Geosmin is harmless, but the odor and taste are unpleasant, especially when it comes to water. Pure water should be odorless and tasteless, so the water you drink is not sterile!

The smell of Geosmin can easily get removed by adding some acids such as lemon or vinegar. However, you cannot mix vinegar into your drinking water, so you should use Filter systems, RO, or Carbon filters for drinking at least odorless water.



Geosmin is not the only chemical that produces dirt odor. Many naturally occurring algae present in water and bacteria present in the soil produce 2-methylisoborneol (2-MIB).

When Geosmin and 2-MIB both chemicals get mixed in the water, the dirt smell becomes more powerful.

Like Geosmin, 2-MIB also is harmless and can get removed through acids. So, when you add lemon water to water taste like dirt; the odor and taste get offset.

Besides this, the acid you can also place the water in the refrigerator. Cooling the water doesn’t offset the smell but can reduce your sense of taste and smell.


Bacteria in Plumbing System

Bacteria in Plumbing System

Some bacteria present in your pipes, taps, and faucets can also cause the water to taste and smell like dirt.

So, first of all, you make sure whether dirt odor is coming from water through all faucets or just only one. If water through other taps is odorless, then the problem is with the faucet.

We suggest you clean the tap by removing the aerators (a tiny cylinder attached to the end of the faucet). Then clean the aerator in vinegar or bleach and use a microfibre cloth to clean inside the tap.

Then screw the parts back and if still, you water taste like dirt, call a plumber and replace the tap with a new one.

If your water source is well, then chlorination of the well effectively removes the dirt smell from the water. Or better call a water professional for the maintenance of well.



If your water tastes like dirt, then probably it is actual dirt. It is very much possible, especially if your source of water is well, rivers and underground water.

Sometimes, people notice sand particles in their water due to some leakages in the water supply system.

In cities, after the water treatment process, when they travel through pipes and come out from tap, there is dirt involved. So, make sure your faucet is clean and has no dirt in it.

However, sediment causing dirt-like taste in water is harmless and gets filtered very quickly. You can easily clear it by using clip-on tap filters.

But it becomes inconvenient in the long run; so, installing a home filter system is more efficient and effective for clean drinking water.


Metal from Pipes

Metal from Pipes

Surprisingly, metals can cause water to smell like dirt than causing metallic odor. Well, it causes both!

If your water is tasting like dirt, metals have probably mixed into it either through the old plumbing system or soil. After all, the soil is also rich in minerals and metals deposits.

Some of the common metals are copper, iron, zinc, manganese, and lead. Luckily, they all are present in low concentrations, so they are not hazardous to health.

But still, it’s better to test the water if you have dirt and a metallic taste in water as lead and manganese prove to be very harmful to humans.

You can contact a plumber if you doubt the plumbing system. Also, always use filtering devices at your home for healthy drinking.



Here’s a sad fact! About 70% of Indians drink contaminated water that causes water-borne diseases.

So, if you have even a little doubt that your drinking water has a foul smell and taste, then make sure to test it.

And no matter what! Always use a RO, Carbon Filter, or other filtration device to filter the water that comes to your home through a rusted plumbing system.

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