Exploring Malaysia can be an exciting yet tiring experience. Sometimes, all you’ll want to do at the end of a long day of seeing the sights is to rest and rehydrate — but before drinking from the first faucet you find, ensure the safety of the drinking water first!
As a general rule, drinking tap water in Malaysia is not advisable unless you boil or purify the water before drinking. The quality of tap water here can be affected by the water source, the rust in the piping systems, and the location of the tap itself.
Even if you can drink tap water in Malaysia (with a few conditions!), it’s best to know more about it and what you can do to ensure its safety for drinking. We’ll get into all of that below so read on to learn about tap water in Malaysia!
An Overview of the Quality of Drinking Water in Malaysia
Malaysia has an annual water resource of about 900 billion cubic metres due to plentiful rainfall. Approximately 97% of this raw water supply is used by the country’s domestic, agricultural, and industrial sectors.
For drinking water specifically, the water source differs per state. Most states extract surface water, or water coming from freshwater sources, for drinking water. There are also a few states that extract drinking water from groundwater.
Managing the water supply and distribution in Malaysia falls to the state governments in the country. State governments usually share this responsibility with state government-linked companies or even private water utility companies.
Having different people in charge of the different states’ water supplies simply means that the quality of drinking water can vary per state. However, according to a 2020 study, the quality of drinking water in Malaysia is still considered “fairly acceptable.”
This study also gathered information on water quality variables like pH level, total dissolved and suspended solids, and more. All the variables were still within the expected level set by the Malaysian National Drinking Water Quality Standard.
Even if that is the case, drinking water straight from the tap in Malaysia is something that should be done with proper preparation.
Why can’t you drink tap water in Malaysia?
Drinking tap water in Malaysia is not suggested because the water can be unclean or contain rust and other chemicals. The CDC recommends avoiding beverages in Malaysia that contain ice made from tap water.
What happens if you drink tap water in Malaysia?
Drinking tap water in Malaysia can cause ailments like stomachaches or diarrhea, so it is not advisable for tourists. Some Malaysians do drink tap water but only because they have been doing it for a long time and are already quite used to it.
If you find yourself in a situation where tap water is the only available source of drinking water, there are some things you can do to make it safer to drink.
Safety Tips for Drinking Tap Water in Malaysia
1. Boil the water before drinking.
Boiling tap water is one of the most popular and effective ways to make it cleaner. What boiling does is that it eliminates germs, bacteria, and parasites from the water.
Start by removing any noticeably large particles from the water, either by picking them out or running the water through a filter. After doing that, simply bring the water to a rolling boil for at least a minute before letting it cool down for drinking.
Even after boiling it, there is still a possibility that tap water in Malaysia can contain some heavy metals like lead or arsenic. Boiling the water won’t get rid of those heavy metals but you can also try out the methods we discuss below just to be sure.
2. Run the water through a filter.
We mentioned that the possible causes of dirty tap water in Malaysia are the rusting of pipes. These rusty pipes can be in residential buildings or even in the pipes leading from the water treatment to the actual tap.
Filtration deals with that problem by removing sediments and debris from the water. There are outdoor water filters that you can install which all work best with home water filters that can be placed indoors.
Not all water filtration devices are built the same but they all get rid of chemicals and dirt in tap water. Once your tap water is filtered, it is already considered safe for drinking.
3. Clean the water using purification methods.
Purification is another way to improve the cleanliness of your tap water. As a whole, water purification methods clean the water by chemically treating and disinfecting it.
There are many water purification methods but the most popular ones are chlorine drops and iodine tablets. Since these methods deal with chemicals, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to use them.
In addition to those methods, there are even personal water bottles with a built-in purification system. Many of these bottles make purifying water convenient and even enjoyable.
4. Buy sealed water bottles for drinking.
Buying sealed water bottles is still the best way to ensure the cleanliness of the water that you are drinking. Even if you’ve done all you can to clean or purify your tap water, sealed water bottles still guarantee the safest drinking water available.
Getting water bottles for drinking is also much easier because a lot of convenience stores and restaurants do sell them. Just make sure that the bottles are actually sealed before drinking from them.
If you’re worried about the plastic usage of water bottles, another option is to invest in your personal water bottle that you can refill whenever you want. And if you’re staying in Malaysia for a while, you can even get a water dispenser to help with the refilling.
The Final Word on Drinking Tap Water in Malaysia
In Malaysia, you can get a glass of water from the tap but only if you take certain precautions. The safety of tap water in Malaysia really depends on a lot of factors but you can ensure it by boiling, filtering, and/or purifying the water.
There are great alternatives for drinking water if you would rather not risk drinking tap water. Aside from boiled water and filtered water, you can also buy mineral water or even distilled water for all your drinking needs while in Malaysia.
Of course, guaranteeing the cleanliness of the tap water in your living accommodation gives you one less thing to worry about during your stay in this delightful country.