Water saving for toilets – 7 simple ways to reduce waste

Top tips to reduce your toilet water usage, so you don’t flush money down the loo

It’s time to talk toilets. On average we go to the loo and flush the toilet six to seven times a day, according to the Bladder and Bowel Foundation. This accounts for one-third of our total domestic water usage. We can’t avoid that, but we can find ways to save water in the toilet, helping conserve it and save money on our water bills too.

A significant 30% of our water use is accounted for when we flush the loo, coming second only to personal bathing at 34%, according to Waterwise, an independent group that campaigns on using water wisely. Therefore it makes sense that we should focus on saving water when we flush. We’ve gathered some top tips on water saving for toilets, so take a seat and read on.

Large bathroom with blue and white tiles, showing toilet in centre of the roomCredit: Shutterstock/ninoon

1. Install a dual-flush toilet

Save when you flush

A dual-flush toilet will use less water than a standard toilet, which only has one flush option. It uses a shorter flush for liquid waste and a longer flush for solid waste. You can expect a dual-flush toilet to save up to seven litres a time when compared to a standard toilet, which uses 13 litres of water per flush.

Ana-Maria Millan, policy manager at the Consumer Council for Water, says: “It might surprise people to discover that about a third of the water we use in the home comes from flushing the loo so it’s really important if you have a dual-flush toilet to make sure you’re using the right button, at the right time.”

If you don’t have a dual-flush loo and aren’t looking to update your WC anytime soon, you could purchase a dual-flush converter kit. For example, the Fluidmaster Toilet Flush Valve Conversion Kit is available at Screwfix for £24.49.

Angular dual flush on top of toilet cisternCredit: Shutterstock/Santiparp Wattanaporn
You could save seven litres of water each time you flush with a dual-flush toilet

Our secret bathroom habits

Research from consumer watchdog, the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) went behind closed doors to explore households’ wasteful water habits. Its survey, Lifting the Lid: The Secrets of Our Water Habits reveals a few truths about how we use the toilet.

  • One in five people in England and Wales run the tap to drown out the sound of using the loo
  • Nearly half of the people surveyed said they’d taken a shower after having a poo
  • A massive 90% said they flush the toilet twice after having a poo

The CCW is using the research to discover where people are wasting water and how they can be encouraged to ease the pressure on water resources.

2. Check for drips

Toilet leaks waste water

Those small continuous drips at the back of your toilet cistern can add up to a whopping 400 litres per day of wasted water, according to Watersafe. While you can spot a leaky loo from the sound of the constant trickle at the back of the cistern, on some occasions there is no sound, and a leak can be missed. For this reason, it’s always worth following these steps to see if your loo is leaking.

Millan says: “Leave a dry sheet of toilet paper across the back of the pan for about three hours without flushing. If it’s wet or torn after that time, you have a leak that needs fixing.”

If you discover a leak, it’s best to get it repaired quickly to avoid wasting more water. The problem is likely to be a faulty flush or fill valve inside the tank, which can be repaired easily if you’re handy with DIY. If you need to call in a plumber and don’t already have a recommendation, we’d suggest finding an approved contractor through Watersafe.


The Bathroom Manufacturers Association’s #GetLavvySavvy campaign shows how simple it is to prevent a leak in your loo and avoid water wastage.

3. Don’t flush if it’s yellow…

Save your flushes for solid waste

We can all cut our water consumption by reducing the number of times we flush the loo, as it’s unnecessary to flush each time we spend a penny. Cathryn Ross, strategy and regulatory affairs director at the UK’s biggest water company, Thames Water believes we should all follow the guidance in the well-known mantra: “If it’s yellow, let in mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.” Ross is quoted in The Times as saying: “The biggest thing people can do day-to-day [to save water] is [take] shorter showers and not flushing the loo every time.”

If you choose to let your wee mellow, we advise putting the lid down to make the whole bathroom experience more pleasant for the next user. And make sure your policy is known to the rest of the household.

Toilet plume

If you have hygiene concerns about flushing the loo less often, you’ve got nothing to fear. ‘Toilet plume’ is the spray created when water from your flush meets with the waste. This spray contains fresh water and urine that leads to droplets floating about your bathroom. So reducing the times you flush will reduce the amount of toilet plume.

4. Reduce your toilet cistern’s capacity

Displace water to save water

Placing a device in your cistern to displace water is a simple and inexpensive way to reduce water consumption. Popping a Save a Flush device – a water displacement bag – into your toilet cistern will displace around one litre of water each time you flush. You can buy one for £2.95 from Save Money Cut Carbon, or most water companies supply them for free. You can find your water company’s details on the CCW’s website.

Alternatively, you could place a sealed plastic bottle filled with water in your toilet cistern, which works like a water displacement bag. However, avoid adding any objects, such as bricks, which could crumble and cause problems with the toilet’s mechanisms.

5. Flush your loo with grey water

Collect used water to recycle

Each time you flush the loo you’re using clean water – the same quality water that comes from your taps. To save water when flushing the loo, you could keep a bucket by your bath or shower to collect the water while your shower is warming up, or to collect the leftover water from your bath, and use that to flush the loo.

If you have a downstairs toilet close to your kitchen, it makes sense to collect the grey water from your kitchen – such as the remaining water from washing-up or from washing fruit and veg – and use it to flush.

Unified Water LabelCredit: Unified Water Label Association
The Unified Water Label helps consumers understand the water and energy consumption of an appliance

6. Find a water-efficient toilet

Water consumption and efficiency label

With over 3,000 loos on its website, the Unified Water Label Association, lists all loos that carry a Unified Water Label. The label clearly indicates a product’s water and energy consumption, similar to the energy label. The website offers a platform to find a product, enabling domestic users to discover products categorised by their water efficiency. Covering 160 brands, the Unified Water Label is supported by the Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) in the UK.

“The Unified Water Label scheme is an excellent starting point for consumers looking to reduce their water consumption in the bathroom. This voluntary labelling initiative is accompanied by an online database of product information, allowing end-users to make more informed purchase decisions,” says Tom Reynold, chief executive of the BMA.

Compost toilet in domestic bathroom settingCredit: Separett
For the ultimate water-saving toilet, try a compost toilet like the Separett Tiny from Separett

7. Go green with a compost toilet

The no-water option

There is one way to eliminate the flush altogether – waterless compost toilets. They might not be for everyone, but they are one way to reduce water consumption and the carbon footprint associated with pumping and processing sewerage.

And although you might not be ready to have one inside your house, a compost toilet could be a good option if you have an outhouse at the bottom of your garden.

WooWoo Waterless Toilets recommends the Swedish-made Separett Villa or Separett Tiny compost toilet for domestic users. They work by keeping the liquid and solid waste separate, making it easier to process. “In most cases the urine is discharged to a small soakaway pit, where the natural bacteria and fungus in the earth will neutralise it,” explains Martin Doyle, product manager at WooWoo. “Faeces and toilet paper are captured and stored inside the toilet, within a biodegradable compost liner. But don’t worry, an automatic concealing screen hides the contents from view when you sit down.”

It’s only natural to be concerned about any potential odours, but you needn’t worry. “A lower power, constantly running electric fan ensures any foul air is vented outside and away, meaning the toilet is entirely odourless in day-to-day use,” adds Doyle.

“When the solids container is full (after 20-60 uses depending on the model), it can be transferred into an external compost bin, where nature takes over and starts creating a natural and safe compost that, given time, you can use as a mulch around trees and bushes.

Camilla Sharman

Written by Camilla Sharman she/her


Camilla Sharman has worked in publishing and marketing for over 30 years and has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.  

As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader. 

It was when she started her family that her freelance career evolved. Having moved into a period house two days before her first son was born, she had the perfect opportunity to combine working from home with writing about her own house renovation projects. Apart from appearing on the cover of Your Home magazine, Camilla’s written for Ideal Homes, Real Homes, House Beautiful, and kitchen and bathroom business magazines.  

It was inevitable that her interest in all things homes would lead her to writing home interest features. As a young girl she had the earliest version of Pinterest – a scrap book full of home inspiration images cut from magazines.  

In her spare time, when she’s not in her kitchen experimenting with a new recipe, you’ll find her keeping fit at the gym. In the pool, stretching at a yoga class, or on a spin bike, exercise is her escape time. She also loves the great outdoors and if she’s not pottering about in her garden, she’ll be jumping on her bike for a gentle cycle ride.