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 is a common occurrence after a water main break. It is caused by sediment and mineral deposits in the pipe. They can be stirred up when the water is turned off and then back on following a water main repair. Flushing the cold water lines in your home or business usually clears up the water. 

After a Water Main Repair

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

  • WSSC suggests running all cold water taps for five minutes.
  • If you have a single-lever faucet, set it to run the cold water.
  • Begin with the highest faucet in your home or business and then open the other faucets one at a time, moving from your highest floor to your lowest. 
  • After five minutes, turn off your faucets in reverse order, from lowest to highest.
  • You should also flush your refrigerator's water lines. 

If the discolored water persists, 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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