Social Question

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Why do some people leave the tap running while brushing their teeth?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16558points) June 7th, 2010

A lot of people seem to do it, but for the life of me I cannot think why. Can you please shed a little light on this for me?

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57 Answers

Anon_Jihad's avatar

Convenience.I don’t care about saving water enough to keep turning the faucet off, I really don’t.

tinyfaery's avatar

Those who grew up with plenty of water, I suppose. In L.A., turning the faucet on and off is part of the routine. And, rude ass people who don’t give a shit about others ^^^.

perspicacious's avatar

They probably have not considered how much water is wasted this way. It’s the same thing with washing your hands, bathing, and shampooing hair. I have a volume control on my shower and turn the water off while I bath and shampoo. Does it make a difference in a water bill; yes indeed.

I wonder more about why people rinse dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. That one has always seemed strange to me.

filmfann's avatar

For me, it’s waiting for the hot water to come, so I can wash my face.

tinyfaery's avatar

@filmfann You can catch that water and use it for the garden.

NeroCorvo's avatar

I am in Los Angeles and it is habit to conserve. I believe it is regional. My soul mate is from a state that gets ample rain. When we moved in together I noted the running water when brushing teeth and it was like nails on a chalkboard. When I asked why it was simply because water was never an issue and so never a thought.

Perhaps it is like when the price of gas goes way up and people suddenly stop driving the three blocks to pick up their kids from school. Supply and demand wakes people up the the value of a resourse.

Talimze's avatar

So I don’t have to molest the faucet handle the whole time. So, basically, I’m just lazy.
I think I speak for most of the world here.

perspicacious's avatar

@filmfann My water runs forever to get the hot water to the kitchen. About 10 years ago I bought a cordless kettle and when I just need a little hot water I just turn it on for about a minute.

ucme's avatar

It helps me go wee wee.Drain the beast after brushing, ahhhh.

meagan's avatar

My Mother always told me that leaving the water on would kill the fishes.
But I leave it on.

partyparty's avatar

I suppose some people just don’t care about conserving water. If they were on a water meter, as many people are in the UK, they would turn it off immediately.

The_Idler's avatar

I live in England. No water meter.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I remember being stationed in places where water had to be trucked (or flown) in hundreds of miles. I conserve now out of habit, even though water is plentiful here.

FutureMemory's avatar

My water bill is $85/mo., I never leave it running.

MissAusten's avatar

When I brush my teeth in the morning, I don’t leave the faucet running. At night, I leave it running so the water will be hot by the time I’m done and I can wash my face.

I think like other things, turning off the faucet when you brush is a habit that you either have or don’t. Growing up, we lived in a rural area with a well. We didn’t have a water bill to worry about, and my parents never once said anything to us about wasting water. It wasn’t until I was in college and using the dorm bathroom with a lot of other girls that I first heard of turning off the tap when brushing to conserve water. One girl, who grew up being conscious of water conservation in an area where water was precious, asked another girl to turn the tap off. The other girl’s response was, “I always leave it on. We never had water issues in Chicago, and we don’t have them here.” I guess if you happen to live someplace with an abundant water supply, it’s OK to waste it as much as you want. ;)

BoBo1946's avatar

will put it on my “bucket list!

gailcalled's avatar

@Talimze: Don’t assume that you can speak for the whole world. Many people (including me), and more each day, are trying to protect what is left of the planet’s resources. Leave a legacy for your children or grandchildren. Every little drop does matter.

The water table is not replaceable.

Coloma's avatar

I am fairly conservative but have need of a good amount of water over this way for my yard, animals and other plants. I am on an agricultural permit sooo, as long as there are fruit and nut trees happening I get a break on the water bill.

I do, admittedly hose down my patio and spray all the bamboos and trees around such in the evening…drops the temp. nicely, sooo….the usual double edged sword. Mist everything and turn off the fans and/or air, or leave it and keep the air on an extra hour at night.

As always…pick your poison.

partyparty's avatar

@The_Idler So do you leave the water turned on?

Seek's avatar

When I was little, no matter what I was using water for, my Daddy would say ”...and save some for the fishes”. This goes for dish washing, brushing teeth, showering, using a public water fountain, everything. I always save some for the fishes. (For that matter, I aim to never “let the penguins out” of the refrigerator, either). It’s just an ingrained habit, and I can’t fathom not practicing it.

BoBo1946's avatar

@FutureMemory mine averages about $22 month here! Also, if you pay $75, you can use all the water you desire for the front yard and it will not increase your bill. It is a separate water line from the house! Say the least, there are some very beautiful lawns in my neighborhood!

wwpil's avatar

It’s because some people are either unaware of it’s environmental effects, just don’t care, don’t know how to conserve it, or don’t mind hiking up the water bill. I also believe it’s a regional thing. The “Green Initiative” is more prevalent in certain areas. New York is trying to be more green, but having recently moved to Jacksonville, FL, it’s like most people here don’t care at all, and there’s not much of an initiative to help it either.

SamIAm's avatar

it’s always bothered me that i leave it on but when i turn it off (because i am aware of this) it doesn’t seem right, so i guess it’s just more of a habit. i try to turn it off or at least let it stream just a little though…

tranquilsea's avatar

I think often it is because people don’t have any concept of how much water they are wasting by doing so. They may change the behaviour once they measure it.

I grew up in a rainy place and routinely left the water running. Once I learned how wasteful that practise is I trained myself and stopped.

I don’t understand the people who use their hose to sweep their driveways and sidewalks. Get a wide broom for crying out loud!

BoBo1946's avatar

well, personally, only use my water on Saturday nights!

The_Idler's avatar

@wwpil maybe it’s just because FL is much less densely populated and gets shitloads of rain.

Like England, there is no need to “conserve” water, we have too much falling out of the fuckin sky as it is…

You really can’t “waste” water here. People don’t have a concept of how much they are wasting, because it isn’t being wasted. There is so much water, that it does just as much good going down the drain as it does going into a glass.
For the time spent brushing ones teeth, anyway.

Coloma's avatar


Do you lug in a big tub and build a fire under it to heat the water too?

Comb your hair with a wagon wheel? lol

JLeslie's avatar

This is one of the few easily fixable wasteful things I do. I don’t have a good reason, except sometimes I am waiting for the hot water to come out while I brush my teeth as @filmfann said. But, still mostly I am being wasteful. It drives my husband crazy. We do not have a water shortage of any sort, so it is not a big deal except that maybe electricity is used to move the water through the public system?? I have no idea if that is the case, I don’t know how that works. I always turn off the lights when I am not in a room, we partition off parts of our house in the winter to not heat areas we are not occupying, my husband and I have agreed the next house we build will have instant hot rather than large hot water heaters, I fill a 5 gallon bucket of water sometimes while my shower warms up, because it takes so long, but running water while I brush, just habit. I do it less than I used to since my husband judges it.

JLeslie's avatar

@FutureMemory $85 a month?! Where do you live?

BoBo1946's avatar

@Coloma lmao…yep, but only on Saturday!

MissAusten's avatar

Our water bill is usually around $120/3 months. One quarter, we got a bill for close to $400 and I almost had a heart attack. We eventually figured out we had a leaking toilet that more than tripled our water usage. Once we identified the problem, it took a $4 part and less than 10 minutes to fix. It’s incredible how much a trickle of water can add up over time, to literally thousands of gallons. The only good to come from that experience was being made more aware of how the water usage adds up over time. Turning off the water when brushing teeth is an easy way to use less water, whether you’re doing it to be “green” or to save some money on your water bill. I bet my parents wouldn’t have been so casual about our water usage if the well had gone dry and they’d had to dig a new one.

partyparty's avatar

@BoBo1946 well, personally, only use my water on Saturday nights!

Is that to dilute your whiskey? :-))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Seek's avatar

Wow. @MissAusten, that makes me glad to have a well, and no water bill. Yikes.

Kraigmo's avatar

Selfishness. It’s a symptom of people who occasionally put their brains on “autorun” and do things thoughtlessly. It’s mental laziness morphed into physical laziness.

And then there’s the dumbass engineers involved in housing design. One would think by now, they’d have footpedal faucets instead of hand faucets for the bathroom.

BoBo1946's avatar

@partyparty 90% Everclear or White Lightning and 10% water! You talking about partying…!

FutureMemory's avatar

@JLeslie Well it’s the city utility bill, which covers water/sewage/trash. At least that’s what they tell me.

HungryGuy's avatar

I brush my teeth in the shower…

Coloma's avatar


Me too! lol

Hey…that’s a bonus…so, I will continue to mist my deck and patio and, of course, gotta keep the goose pools sparkling cool….can’t have any ducks outta water over this way. haha

JLeslie's avatar

@FutureMemory Oh, $85 for all utilities? That’s different. Is that what you are saying?

flo's avatar

Using a cup solves not wanting to turn on and and turn off the tap, if that is to much work. Leaving it running makes some people feel among the privilaged, like a status symbol but for the inner self. They may think it is poor people’s thing. Knowing that they don’t need to save water may help them feel superior or equal to others, similar like some people compensate for what they lack inside by buying expensive flashy things. And some just don’t get it, until they get mature.

Coloma's avatar

Things in tip top shape over this way right now.

Aaah…that great convergence where all things are in place and in a perfect state of maintainence for a brief moment.

Yard, house and barnyard are sparkling!

A couple of Coronas and NOW….if I could only find the giant lizard the cat let loose in the living room a few hours ago.
Almost had an affirmative capture, but, alas…it zipped behind a shinto screen and evaporated into oblivion.

Maybe the midnight patrol will locate the wayward reptile and remove it from my interior before death does become it. lol

casheroo's avatar

I don’t. I take time to brush my teeth, so I turn the water off.

The_Idler's avatar

There is a ton of bullshit in this thread right here! =}

I don’t mean to single you out @flo, but as the last reply that made me roll my eyes, you’re quoted.

“Leaving it running makes some people feel among the privilaged [no. literally everybody has too much water here], like a status symbol but for the inner self [no. flowing champagne = status symbol; flowing water = every single home in this country]. They may think it is poor people’s thing [what?]. Knowing that they don’t need to save water may help them feel superior or equal to others [Yes, it helps me feel exactly the same as every other normal Englishman, which is totally why I do it~], similar like some people compensate for what they lack inside by buying expensive flashy things [Or maybe its because there is so much water here, making efforts to “save” it is like only building a small sandcastle to save sand on the beach]

The energy required to grow, process, transport, prepare and eat the food required to give me the energy to turn the tap off and on again is probably more than required to allow that water to flow for a minute. Considering it just naturally falls out of the sky (rain) in great abundance, filling up these land depressions (reservoirs), and makes its own way down the pipes to my tap (gravity).

If un-metered people turn off the tap like that to “save” water, I could only accept that as in accordance with their principles, if they had also constructed some mechanism for collecting and making use of all that water that falls out of the sky and runs “uselessly” into the Sea, at least for the extent of their own property.

The_Idler's avatar

BTW, every drop that goes down the drain will eventually end up going through a hydro-electric dam. Therefore helping sustainable “green” energy generation.

Coloma's avatar

I happen to manufacture and recycle a lot of water actually.

When I drain my hot tub that I use a minimal bit of cholrine in, the hose runs down the hill to trees and the overflow goes into a seasonal creek.

I dump the goose pools downhill and that nice riich green goosey water feeds a pair of Smoke trees in the corral.

Infact, if you want to grow some lush plants mix a little miracle grow into the goose juice and look out….jolly green giants! lol

Seek's avatar


Even un-metered people (like me) have a well in their backyard that is supplied with electricity. Every time the reservoir is drained, the pump is run to refill it. Saving water saves electricity, and thus money. It’s silly to not think of turning off the water for the two minutes you’re brushing your teeth, or the five minutes you’re shaving your face, or the ten minutes you’re allowing the hot oil treatment on your hair to set.

And I’d love nothing more than to install a water collection system to my house, to capture rainwater to use for my garden. Of course all rain is not useless, as it ultimately supplies the underground aquifer my well draws from.

The_Idler's avatar

“Of course all rain is not useless, as it ultimately supplies the underground aquifer my well draws from.” So does all the water that goes down your drain.

Okay, you save electricity, fair enough.
I would do it, to save electricity.
In my situation, it saves nothing.

Therefore I am not being ignorant/stupid/superior/compensating for what I lack inside/wasteful of the planet’s resources/a rude ass person who doesn’t care about anyone else by leaving the goddamn motherfucking tap on for a minute õ.O

tinyfaery's avatar

How does turning off the faucet use energy. The water runs to my house at all times, using the faucet just let’s it flow out of a certain area? How does that use energy?

JLeslie's avatar

I wondered that too what I answered near the top, if public water uses electricity. They maybe use electricity to purify it?

The_Idler's avatar

The energy consumption in my situation (fed from the reservoir on top of the hill) is minuscule.

Like I said, probably on the same kind of order of the amount of energy required to grow, process, transport, prepare and eat the food required to give me the energy to turn the tap off and on again, which is minuscule.

flo's avatar

I wrote “Some people…..” maybe…” so I don’t know why you have to take it to mean everyone.

Would I take my container of filtered water, and pour it into my unfiltered water container, and then filter it again? No. So, why would send the perfectly clean water down to the sewer? There is no issue for me to just use a cup to brush my teeth. And not having an issue with that, can’t be a problem.

gailcalled's avatar

There are also gadgets (installed by my electric and gas co.) that attach to bathroom sink spigots. They can be flipped up with a pinkie to slow the water flow to a trickle.

I have similar gadgets on my shower heads, and I have lovely foam wrappings on the pipes from hot water heater to tank, again courtesy of NYS Elec. and Gas. I bet that @YARDLADY could easily knit us some.

mattbrowne's avatar

Lack of ecological awareness.

Response moderated
flo's avatar

Plese ignore the above, it is an error. I am flagging it. I tried to get it before the edit expired.

Kraigmo's avatar

How ironic that a person whose screen nic means “Personal Struggle” is too lazy to even turn off a water faucet.

The_Idler's avatar

What’s the point, anyway?

Look outside!

It’s literally raining water.

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