Is the filtered water from your fridge really much cleaner than the water from your tap? The NOW’s investigative reporter put filtered water to the test, looking for mold, yeast and bacteria. What was found is a good warning for all families.
Where their water comes from isn’t top of mind at the busy Lupher family home.
"You want to think the water coming out of that one is the cleaner water," says Travis Lupher of the water in his refrigerator.
The NOW asked the Lupher’s and five other families to bring us samples of their water.
Each sample was collected first thing in the morning, so any bacteria had time to grow.
The Lupher's admit they never change their water filter, while other families in the test said they changed it regularly.
A professional laboratory tested the samples for mold, yeast and bacteria.
Bacteria expert Dr. Helene Ver Eecke of Metropolitan State University of Denver looked over our results.
All samples did not contain mold and yeast, fortunately. When it came to bacteria, the samples were all over the board. One sample grew 54 bacteria colonies. The second sample had 520, followed by 1,100 for the third. The fourth sample had 3,000 and the final two had a 4,000-count of bacteria colonies. One of those is from the Lupher house.
So, why the difference in bacteria?
It doesn’t have anything to do with the filters. Dr. Ver Eecke the filters just help make your water taste better, but they're not actually cleaning the water. Additionally, if you don’t change your filter, it doesn’t contaminate the water. So what causes the difference in bacteria?
"So, maybe in those households, they were actually touching the dispenser,” explains Dr. Ver Eeck. “Sometimes, I'm lazy and I catch ice cubes from the ice cube dispenser and my finger touches the water dispenser. That would be me putting microbes on the dispenser."
The solution: take a spray bottle and fill it with alcohol. Spray the alcohol on the water dispenser. Then, let it dry. Don't' wipe it off or you might contaminate it.
"I have put some nasty water bottles up against that thing," Lupher admits.
Lupher showed us how he fills up his gym water bottle. These and other actions touching the spout might be contaminating your fridge water.
Even if you forget to clean, Dr. Ver Eecke says there's no reason to panic. A 4,000 bacteria level is much less than you'd have on your hand, and it’s not enough to cause a healthy person to get sick.