Posted by: thediplomaticwife | July 6, 2010

Dirty tap water in Jakarta

Before we came to Jakarta we were warned by my mother-in-law not to brush with the tap water because when she was in Jakarta in the 90’s  she brushed her teeth with tap and got amoeba! To think that she was staying in the best hotel in Indonesia then. Note that she drank only bottled mineral water.

I am not sure how much the water systems here has improved since then. But even in hotels, we brush our teeth with bottled mineral water.  The only exceptions are when we are in a very high-end hotel and they confirm that they have a water purifying system for their tap and it is safe to use for brushing. Even then, they usually supply bottled water in the toilets for brushing.

We live in an old building and the tap is quite dirty, as shown by the following:

  1. When the washing machine water level is full, it is not clear – a bit brown actually. The water hose to the machine is now opaque brown from all the particles stuck onto it. Most people have their whites done in the laundry shop here – but they don’t charge by the Kilogram here, they charge per piece. Ouch.
  2. When we shower and water gets in our eyes, it REALLY hurts/stings our eyes.
  3. The bathtub floor by the drain is stained brown.
  4. My skin was breaking out so I had to start washing with mineral water.  Expensive right? But it’s cheaper than what I had to pay the dermatologist to fix my skin.

So our solution was to buy a water purifying system for our bathroom sink. It takes out the smell and particles. Good enough for brushing but still not good enough for drinking.

Master's Bathroom Sink & Philips Water Purifier

After 6 months of using it, the filter was due for replacement. IT WAS NOT A PRETTY SIGHT.

Supposed to be changed on July 19 2010, but it was too dirty for comfort so we changed the filter today.

The filter cartridge is actually white, so that brown stuff is crud.

The sediments left in the cover

The new filter is pristine white - top and body. Just compare it with the 6 month old filter above. Gross.

I assume that the following are also related to how limited the supply of clean water is here in Jakarta and how expensive it is to clean water.

  • Water is never free here. Unlike in Manila where one can just ask for a glass of water in a restaurant and expect to be given a glass of purified water, here you have to pay for mineral water because, if you ask for a glass, you will be given the dreaded tap water.
  • Ice is hard to find. One cannot just buy it in a convenience store, like any Mini-stop in Manila. That’s the thing with parties, one has to make sure to find ice ahead of time.

TIP FOR ANYONE MOVING TO JAKARTA: Make sure that the apartment/house you are going to rent has a good water purifying system for the entire flat/house because this will resolve a lot of headaches like laundering whites, ruining your skin, cooking water, etc.


  1. […] water-filled plastic “ice cubes.” This is perfect because as you know there is a “situation” with the water here in Jakarta so we spend a lot of money on mineral/filtered water, which we use for everything from cooking to […]

  2. I recently started an online business in Manila selling shower filters and drinking filters because the water here is quite dirty as well. Coincidentally, one of our customers is Indonesian and keeps telling me the water in Manila is so much worse than in Jakarta. =) Of course, he does live in this old condo in Makati so I think the pipes have a lot to do with the water quality.

    • That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard! How is that possible? LOL. We lived in an older condo in Makati as well (circa 1990s) but the water is cleaner… let’s just say I can keep my eyes open in the shower without any stinging sensation!

      Btw since you are in the water purification business… I noticed that for some reason my hair dries much quicker in Manila (and feels much lighter after) than here in Jakarta? Do the amount of sediments and dirt in the water have anything to do with it? SO weird!

      • I’m no expert on water (yet!) but based on what I know, the stinging sensation is probably from chlorine. Maybe they over-chlorinate their water? It’s similar to the feeling when you swim in a pool and it stings also, right?

        On your question, it is most probably from water quality — and water quality depends on a lot of factors: the quality of the initial water coming into the dams, the water treatment process, the city’s pipes, the house’s pipes, even the weather (when there’s a drought or when the rainy season starts, you sometimes notice the water is dirtier). I live in QC and given the same period of time, I’ve noticed that our filters are more dirty than my IL’s house in Pasig. So it’s a difficult science! Very nerdy.

        Anyway, let’s not bore your readers. haha. I actually sent you a separate email. Hope you can read it.

      • Dear OCMominManila, thanks for the info! I am very interested in all this! I am OC myself! I can’t imagine what I will be like when I am a mom! LOL. Yes I’ve received your email. Unfortunately I’ve been so busy attending the Suzuki Cup and the surrounding Filipino Community events that I was unable to reply. I would love to try your shower filter! I’ve been looking for one but have been unable to find one here in Jakarta! If you’re friend from J&J can bring it, I would very much appreciate it. Since we are not going home over the holidays. Thank you so much!

  3. […] The water situation […]

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