Chemical taste and smells

Follow our advice if your water tastes or smells like chemicals.

Chemical taste and smells

You can find out what is causing water smells or tastes such as chemicals by checking the following:


If you only notice the taste in hot drinks, try boiling water in a clean saucepan. If the taste is no longer present, it’s likely because of the kettle gasket that seals the elements to the side of the kettle. This is often most noticeable with new kettles.

The problem may well go away with time if the kettle is new. Boiling fresh water each time may also help to keep the taste to a minimum. If the problem persists, you might like to contact the manufacturer for their advice.

Washing machines and dishwashers:

‘Chlorine-like’ tastes can sometimes relate to the hose which transfers water from your supply pipe to dishwashers and washing machines. Increases in water pressure can result in the flexi-hose expanding like a balloon – when the pressure is released, the hose collapses and can squirt water back into your supply pipe.

You can download our guide to fitting a check valve which will help improve the taste of your water.

This water can then mix with your incoming water. To stop this, try shutting off the flexi-hose by turning off the valve that supplies your cold water to the appliance when it’s not in use. This advice is also given by many manufacturers.

If the location of the valve makes it difficult to access or operate easily, you could consider asking a plumber to do one or more of the following:

  1. Move the valve to a more accessible place so that it’s easier to use.
  2. Move the valve to a position after the draw-off point of the kitchen tap.
  3. Fit a non-return valve (also known as a check-valve) at the start of the hose.

Yorkshire Water will send you a check-valve free of charge for you to fit at the connection of the hose and your mains water supply. The check-valve prevents any water that’s been in contact with the flexible hose from coming back in to your water supply. In our experience check-valves resolve many of these type of taste complaints.

Tap washers:

Sometimes, the washer inside kitchen taps and stop-taps may be the cause of an unusual taste in your drinking water. This is more likely if it doesn’t conform to British or equivalent European standards. The Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) can provide advice on correct tap fittings. You can call them on 0333 207 9030.

If there is a second mains fed tap in the house, try using water from this. If no taste is noticeable then the cause is probably the tap washer in the original tap. If no other suitable tap is available, run the tap for a short time before tasting the water. It’s worth noting that internal stop taps are also fitted with WRAS approved washers.

Other hoses and fittings:

Many modern kitchen tap fittings use flexible or braided hoses and other rubber-like materials. Some of these fittings can create taste problems. The best way to eliminate these is to ensure that all your drinking water fittings are approved by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS).

Products that are approved should be clearly labelled.

Please be aware, although it is against the Water Fittings Regulations to install any unapproved product to your drinking water pipe, it is not illegal to sell them and many unapproved plumbing products are freely available.

Works in your area

Water supply issues can often be caused by works being carried out in your area. Enter your postcode to see if there are any roadworks or incidents that could be affecting you.

The chemical taste of your drinking water is likely to be caused by the rubber and plastic materials used in domestic appliances and fittings. These plastic fittings include kettle gaskets/seals, tap washers and hoses fitted to the inlet of washing machines and dishwashers.

The taste doesn’t come from the water pipes but is formed within properties. These plastic and rubber materials contain ‘phenols’ and related substances which can cause unpleasant tastes or odours. Additionally, low levels of chlorine may react with these chemicals to produce other taste-causing substances.

Although these substances can cause unpleasant tastes in hot drinks at very low levels (parts per trillion in some cases), they are not harmful to health at the levels normally detected.

Chemical taste issues can come and go due to one or a combination of the following factors:

- Changes in pressure: The pressure of your water supply is slightly higher at night and when fewer people are using water. This increased pressure can cause a slight expansion in the rubber hoses (like a long thin balloon) attached to washing machines and dishwashers. When a tap in your property is used, the pressure reduces and the expanded rubber pipe collapses and squirts water back into the incoming supply.

- Standing water: Water left in your pipes overnight or when your property is empty is more likely to pick up any taste-causing substances from unapproved materials. Running your tap for a few minutes prior to use will solve this.

- Washer deterioration: Certain types of washers degrade with time. Because the ‘break-up’ of these washers isn’t a continuous process, the taste may come and go.

Works in your area

Water supply issues can often be caused by works being carried out in your area. Enter your postcode to see if there are any roadworks or incidents that could be affecting you.

Watch our appearance water advice video

Follow our advice if your water tastes or smells like chemicals.