William and Shelby’s Daily Water Usage

May 20th, 2020

Dear Readers,

In many relationships there comes a time when things get, well…boring. You and your spouse have a routine, and it works. All in all, in a day, things get done while there still exists room for some excitement. You love them, they love you, life is moving forward. It is all a happy kind of ‘mhm.’ Well, William and I decided to spice things up a bit.

We did an experiment. 

For 24 hours we measured the exact amount of water we used…washing our hands, brushing our teeth, doing the dishes, laundry, flushing the toilet…it was enlightening! I highly recommend it for any couple who finds themselves in a state of blissful ‘mhm.’ 

But in all seriousness, we wanted to know what our daily water usage was so that we can accurately size our Rainwater Pillow to fulfill all of our H2O necessities. Beginning at 12 am on a Monday morning when both of us had the opportunity to stay home all day, William and I diligently recorded the amount of water we used when we…..

  • Flushed the toilet 
  • Washed our hands 
  • Brushed our teeth 
  • Did a load of laundry 
  • Did dishes 
  • Gave water to the chickens and dogs
  • Grabbed a glass of water to drink or cook with
  • Took a shower

William wrote his amounts in red pen (‘cause he is a spicy optimist), while I wrote mine in black (‘cause I am a mysterious pessimist). This is what we discovered about one another as a couple and our water usage…

Flushing the toilet

William discovered that our toilet uses 1.6 gallons of water every flush. I discovered that I use the toilet much more often than he does. Collectively, we both used the toilet 27 times that Monday…from 12 am to 11:59 pm. I used it 19 times out of that 27….but in all honesty, I also drink more water than he does…and caffeine…and I run…and running with even the tiniest bit of a full bladder is incredibly uncomfortable. Excuses for an ignored bladder problem? Perhaps. I regress. 

Washing our hands

To measure how much water we use when we wash our hands, we stuck a pitcher with measurements up to 64 ounces etched on the side under the faucet. We washed our hands above the pitcher to measure the water usage. William only used 24 ounces while washing his hands. I used 45 ounces, ‘cause I never turn the water off while I am lathering on the soap. Once our primary measurements were obtained, we wrote down 24 or 45 ounces everytime we washed our hands. 

Naturally, because I used the bathroom more frequently (and am responsible for taking care of the chickens), I also washed my hands more often. I washed my hands 26 times, while William washed his hands 9 times that day, totalling 10.83 gallons.


Shelby using our measuring device when washing her hands.

Brushing our teeth

The amount of water we used to brush our teeth is not entirely accurate. Using the same method to measure how much water was used when washing our hands, I found out how much water was used to brush my teeth: 64 oz. I brush my teeth twice a day, William once- totalling 1.5 gallons. What is wonky about the number, is that William did not bother to measure how much water he exactly uses to brush his teeth…he brushed his teeth late at night and we were both sick of measuring water at that point, that he just assumed he used the same amount of water as I did. 


I did one load of laundry on Monday. Our washer is from the 1950s (?), so its water efficiency is poor…it is a Kenmore Ultra Fabric Care, Model 110.82980120. I could not find an exact listing on how many gallons this specific washer uses per load, but I did find that top loading washers (like this one) in the past used around 45 gallons per load. That’s a lot o’ water…

And! In all honesty, I sometimes do two loads of laundry a day…can you imagine when we have kids?? 


Measuring water usage when doing the dishes was interesting….if we were just rinsing off a plate, we used the same measuring technique as when we were washing our hands (with the pitcher with measurements on it). When we actually began hand washing the dishes for real…we tried two different techniques. 

The one, we found out how many gallons a minute our kitchen faucet put out: 1.5 gallons per minute. We then timed how long it took me to do the dishes, and then divided that time by 2 (I only spent half the time actually rinsing the dishes, the other half of the time I was scrubbing said dishes in a consistent and measured amount of water in our ‘washing dishes’ bowl). 

The second method to measuring water usage while hand washing dishes was to use the pitcher with measurements. I put a set amount of water in our ‘washing dishes’ bowl, and then placed the pitcher under the faucet. As I rinsed the dishes, I would do so over the pitcher. I counted how many times I had to dump out the pitcher due to it being full, and then multiplied that number by 64 (the amount of ounces the pitcher held). 

In all, we roughly estimated that we used 14.8 gallons to wash the dishes during the course of that enlightening Monday.

Watering the chickens and dogs

The container I use to water the chickens is an 89 oz. container of what used to hold orange juice. I have a bad habit, however. When I fill up the container, I position it under the faucet, turn on the water, and then walk away. I get my boots on…get the chicken feed…I try to be productive with my time before racing to the faucet when the container is full of water. Unfortunately, however, I often arrive too late, and there is an overflow. Which means wasted water. So, combined with the amount of water it took to water the dogs, we used approximately 1.16 gallons to water our animals. 


I drink a lot of water. I’m like a fish…or a mermaid. Of the 1.45 gallons (186 ounces) of water William and I used to hydrate ourselves as well as prepare food, William only consumed 44 ounces of it…while I was responsible for the remainder (remember that I run…and this also contributes to the high toilet usage). 

Taking showers

Again, this number is not the most accurate…we measured our shower head as putting out 1.5 gallons per minute. William took a four minute shower, using 6 gallons of water. I took a five minute shower, using 7.5 gallons of water. I never take five minute showers. Mixed with the already intense pressure of me being a water hog, in combination with the fact that I was late for a phone date with my best friend, I took a much shorter shower than I typically do. Usually, my showers are ten minutes (we have a fancy timer in the shower…which beeps every five minutes…so it keeps the water wasting guilt prevalent).

Our total water usage

Our water usage visualized, in gallons

William and I used a grand total of 131.4 gallons in one day. In order for us to anticipate the size of Rainwater Pillow we would need to accommodate our home, we would divide that total by 2 to get the water usage, approximately, per person. We would enter that number (65.7 gallons per person) into Second Rain’s fancy calculator, along with the square footage of our roof and location of our home, and they would provide us with the amount of water we should be trying to save per month. 

Unfortunately, for William and I, if we had a family of four, our water usage would exceed our amount of rainwater harvesting potential. Since your roof is basically your ‘rain catcher,’ and we plan on having a small-ish house, we simply do not live in an area which receives enough rain for our small-ish sized roof to obtain that much water. 

However! William being the optimist, he is certainly not giving up. Holding onto the dream of 2+ kids and no connection to the grid, he is determined to incorporate incredibly efficient water-using appliances into our home, as well as other endeavors…which he is still figuring out…

So! There is hope. And this experiment was highly educational on how much of a whale I am with water…and inspiring for us as a couple to remedy that situation. 

Couples in a ‘mhm’ phase, keep this experiment in mind…it may spice things up a bit in that comfortable routine!

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned!


Shelby Aldrich


  1. This is very interesting, and on the other hand, you two crack me up! love you, Aunt Rose

    • Thank you Aunt Rose, your enthusiasm towards our blog is appreciated! Love you too

  2. This was interesting, and on the other hand, you two crack me up. lots of love, Aunt Rose

  3. Sorry, that went twice

  4. I must say this pandemic has produced the most interesting activities resulting from boredom!

    • Hi, Dotty! It certainly was fun! And we are curious what other people’s water usage amounts are…so if you find yourself getting bored, you should give it a try and let us know what you find out!

  5. Bill and I should try the water usage thing. With him being home, and me when I am on a roll w/laundry home by myself!

    • You should! It is crazy how big of a difference one extra person using water makes…and your activities of course!

  6. Okay, so I did a different experiment (check out my YouTube vlog for the story-EP 221 or something like that) and I think that every four hand washings yielded enough grey water to flush the toilet once. Now if you have a very low-water system, you would need even less. Just a thought to get your creative juices flowing.

    • Haha, love the experimenting, thanks for the tip Aunt Deanna! We could try that where we are living now. With our design for our future home, we are expecting to use a Clivus Multrum composting toilet. They give you two options, either the traditional one which uses no water at all, or their slightly more “accepted” version, which uses only 6 ounces per flush!


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© 2020 Sustaining Tree

© 2020 Sustaining Tree