Can I use Moscow tap water for drinking and cooking? Is tap water safe in Moscow?
Tap water in Moscow is perfectly safe to drink and use for other everyday purposes.
Stories telling that tap water is contaminated, not clean enough or for whatever reason is no good to drink, are just marketing lies. Locals readily pick up such stories, fabricated by bottled water manufactures, and pass them around. Many choose to believe those stories and buy water in bottles. What a hassle to buy and carry those bulky and heavy 5-liter bottles from the store to your home!
Recent studies (by official government agency) indicate that 60% of bottled water is worse in quality than the tap water. Most of what they sell as “natural” or “mineral” water actually comes from the tap, somehow filtered and chemicals added to what they believe – improve water taste. This is why many samples of bottled water have some strange taste, some bitter, some sweet.
Tap water in Moscow is very clean and safe, but there are two practical things to consider:
First consideration is that tap water in Moscow is “hard”. Lookup on the internet “hard”; and “soft”; water to understand the difference. “Hardness” of water occurs naturally. In practice, having “hard” water means following.
You might need to use conditioner when washing you hair. It might take some time for your hair and skin to get used to this type of water of you are coming from the area with “soft”; water.
Any home appliance that boils or heats water will require special maintenance and extra care. For laundry you will have to buy detergents that has water softening chemicals in it or buy and add such chemicals separately. You will have to use more of laundry detergent; recommended volume for hard water is usually indicated on the package. You will have to use special chemicals for your dishwasher to soften water. And you will have to clean your kettle or coffee maker regularly, otherwise you will get white deposits on the heating elements and walls and nasty white flakes in your tea of coffee. Those flakes – harmless for you, harmful for your appliance and do not look good in your drink. Even if you use bottled water you will get deposits and flakes because it is not softened and has additives.
Second consideration is chemicals, added during purification process. This is not unique for Moscow, like in most places in the world, all tap water has chemicals added during purification process. They are no hazards to health from those chemicals, but if you are super conscious about what you drink this can be a consideration. Again, bottled water also has chemicals (usually unknown ones), and it is also “hard”, so it is not an adequate replacement for tap water.
Rethink your hygiene routines, play with different shampoos to find suitable one, let your skin and hair adjust.
For laundry and dishwasher buy proper detergents and use in manufacturer recommended volumes. All these detergents are easy to find in any grocery store.
For drinking, making tea, coffee and cooking use stationary filter with reverse osmosis technology. This is an inexpensive piece of equipment that typically hides under the kitchen sink. It will require professional installation and you will have separate tap for drinking water. I’ve been using this type of filter for years and can positively confirm it filters out all additives and makes very clean water, great for drinking, cooking and making tea or coffee. I have never cleaned my electric kettle or coffee machine, they are both clean as new and no white deposits on them because filter softens water. It is affordable (roughly 200-300 USD with installation depending on a brand) and very useful piece of home equipment. Maintenance includes changing filters regularly (change frequency depends on how much water you use from the filter).
Below picture shows how reverse osmosis system looks (this picture is from my own apartment).
Вода (Voda) - Water
Питьевая вода - (Pityevaya voda) - Drinking water
Водопроводная вода (Vodoprovodnaya voda) or
Вода из крана (Voda iz krana) - Tap water
Бутилированная вода (Butilirovannaya voda) or Вода в бутылках (Voda v butilkah) - Bottled water
Фильтр (Filtr) - Filter
Keep well, or as we say in Russia - Будьте здоровы! (Bud'te zdorovy!)