Discolored Water/Flushing Guide

Is it safe to drink?

Discolored water may not be aesthetically pleasing, but it is safe to drink. However, WSSC does not recommend using discolored water to do laundry. Clothes can become stained.

Discolored water and trapped air are common occurrences after a water main break or other water system maintenance work. Discolored water is caused by sediment and mineral deposits in the pipes that can be stirred up when the water is turned off and then back on following work on WSSC’s water system.

Flushing the COLD water pipes in your home or business usually clears up the discolored water and will allow trapped air to be released.

After a Water Main Repair:

After water main repair work is completed in your area, flush the COLD water lines in your home or business using the following steps.

  • WSSC suggests running all COLD water taps for about five minutes or until the water runs clear.
  • Begin with the lowest faucet in your home or business and then open the other faucets one at a time, moving from your lowest floor to your highest. 
  • Once the water runs clear, usually in five minutes or less, turn off your faucets in the same order, lowest to highest.
  • You should also flush your refrigerator's water lines. 

If the discolored water persists after running your cold water lines for five minutes, please report it to the Emergency Call Center at 301-206-4002 or emergencycallcenter@wsscwater.com.


WSSC does not recommend using discolored water to do laundry. If clothing gets stained, immediately wash the clothes again using a rust remover product.  This type of product is available in most supermarkets or you can contact WSSC at 301-206-8100, 1-800-634-8400, or  communications@wsscwater.com and request a stain remover.  For better results, do not let the clothes dry.

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