Water use

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Responsible Consumption and Production
  • Partnership For The Goals

Water-smart products for water-stressed living

With half of the global population expected to live in areas of water stress by 2025, new approaches to cutting water use at home have never been more important.

Dry wash spray

Water scarcity – a problem for people, societies & business

Our daily lives and simple chores depend on water. But in water-scarce regions, the supply and quality of water are unreliable.

Water stress is also a business issue. Water is fundamental to the manufacturing and use of our products. Constraints on the quality and quantity of the water available limit our ability to operate effectively and meet the needs of our consumers.

When water is scarce, or supplies are unreliable, people limit how frequently they wash or do the laundry, which can reduce demand for our products. What's more, climate change is increasing the challenges of water scarcity, so the impact on individuals and our business will grow. As a result, water is one of our most material issues.

Water-smart products & new ideas

We’re investing in product innovation to cut water use, and we’re exploring options beyond our traditional business model to find new solutions for communities. One priority is to research, develop and launch water-smart products – new products or formulations that work just as well but with less water, poor quality water or no water at all.

More than 99% of our water footprint occurs when people use our products at home. So we’re concentrating on the product categories that require the most water to use, including laundry, household cleaning, skin cleansing, oral care and hair care. Water-smart products are particularly suited to the needs of people living in water-stressed areas, but they can also help encourage a wider shift to more sustainable water consumption. And they will help our business become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

However, water-smart products on their own aren’t enough when many communities still lack access to a clean, reliable local water supply. That’s why we’re also investing in projects and business models that can increase access to water, including the creation of community hygiene centres.

By helping to tackle water scarcity, we can change people’s lives, build our brands and contribute towards UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Ensure access to water and sanitation for all.

Water-smart hair care through fast-rinse & no-rinse

Drop of water

No-rinse formulas save on average 99 seconds per shower, which could amount to 460 litres of water being saved per bottle of no-rinse conditioner

Product innovation in our personal care ranges can help people to reduce how much water they use in their home.

For example, when we realised that only 58% of women in the US use a conditioner every week, 95% of which ends up washed down the drain, we launched a new hair care brand: 'the good stuff'. This new brand – launched in the US in 2019 – is challenging the status quo of the conditioner market.

The good stuff’s range comprises six no-rinse conditioners that are customised in format and texture to address multiple hair types and needs. One universal gentle shampoo completes the collection. Its no-rinse, weightless conditioners are made to stay on hair all day long. The brand’s rationale is that you wouldn’t rinse off the moisturiser that cares for your skin, so why wash away the conditioner that’s meant for your hair?

At the heart of the good stuff is a call to be more conscious about the way we all consume. The good stuff’s conditioners not only care for hair, but the no-rinse formulas also save on average 99 seconds per shower. This could amount to 460 litres of water saved per bottle of no-rinse conditioner – equivalent to the typical volume of water a person would drink over seven months.

The good stuff follows our Love Beauty and Planet range in the US and Europe – launched in 2018 – which uses fast-rinse technology in its conditioners. These conditioners give great results while being quicker to rinse out. If every woman in the US saved even ten seconds per shower, it would save enough water to meet all the water needs of half a million people for that year. Through providing fast-rinse conditioners, sharing ‘how to use’ instructions and social media engagement, Love Beauty and Planet is encouraging people “to go easy on the tap” and cut their water use.

Laundry, just not as you know it

Mashign machine

Each bottle of Day2 is made with only 0.02% of the water used in a normal laundry load

Around 80 billion pieces of clothing are consumed every year, and almost 3,000 litres of water are needed to produce just one t-shirt – that’s enough water to keep the average person hydrated for three years!

The average shirt can be washed 35–50 times during its life span. But 40% of the clothes we wash don’t really need to go through a full wash. So in 2018 we launched Day2, a dry wash spray that revives clothes to look, feel and smell ‘just-washed’ in between washes – saving water and time. Think dry shampoo but for clothes. They go from being just-worn to refreshed in just 15 minutes. Day2 removes odours using our latest malodour technology. It also restores shape and softness to the clothes, giving them an instant iron effect.

Designed to make people’s lives a bit easier, each bottle of Day2 gives approximately 25 uses. The Day2 spray can is powered by air. Day2 is made with only 0.02% of the water used in a normal laundry load. By prolonging the time between washes, each bottle saves 60 litres of water. So far, people using Day2 have collectively saved over 24,800 bathtubs of water, simply by spraying more and washing less. And when the bottle is empty, people can download a postage label and return it to us for recycling, free of charge.

In early 2019, we launched a dry wash spray as part of our new Love Home and Planet range in the US. This innovative dry wash format revives clothes, helping people to wear previously worn clothes that don’t yet need to be washed, reducing water use in the process.

Smarter rinsing with SmartFoam

In many developing and emerging countries, clothes are still washed by hand. This time-consuming task uses up to 40% of a household’s domestic water consumption. Rinsing uses around 70% of this water, and our research shows that people continue to rinse until there are no visible soap suds left.

Our SmartFoam technology is an anti-foam molecule which reduces the amount of water needed by up to half, by breaking down soap suds more quickly. It was first launched in South Africa in 2016 in our Sunlight 2-in-1 Handwashing Laundry Powder, and in India in our Rin soap bars and Rin laundry powder. Since then, we have launched SmartFoam products in Indonesia and Vietnam.

A bold approach to urban hygiene in India

Rapid urbanisation means many low-income people in India live without easy access to clean water, a flushing toilet, or other basic services. The urban poor may pay up to 50 times more for a litre of water than their richer neighbours, as they often have to buy their water from private vendors.

Our three pioneering Suvidha Centres aim to address this by providing flushing toilets, handwashing facilities with soap, clean showers, safe drinking water and state-of-the-art laundry operations at an affordable cost for low-income households.

Suvidha Centres, water & a circular economy approach

All three Suvidha Centres apply circular economy principles in how they use water. Around 90% of water is recycled and rainwater harvesting systems reduce demand on mains water supplies.


Our first Suvidha (which means ‘facility’ in Hindi) was built in 2016 in Mumbai, where more than half the city's 12.5 million inhabitants don’t have their own toilet. In partnership with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and non-profit community organisation Pratha Samajik Sanstha, the first centre was built in the slum area of Azad Nagar. It now helps more than 1,500 people gain access to clean water and facilities, meeting almost 80% of people’s basic water needs for laundry, showers, toilets and hand-washing on a pay-per-use basis, below market rates.

In 2019, we opened two further centres in Mumbai, this time in partnership with HSBC India.

Saving water is a priority, and was built into each centre's design. Fresh water is first used for bathing, hand-washing and laundry. The resulting wastewater is then used for flushing toilets. Results from our first centre show that its recycling unit helps to recycle 90% of the water used, while a rainwater harvesting system reduces the demand on mains water supplies. At our second centre, opened in July 2019 in the Malwani area of North Mumbai, providing water services to more than 2,500 residents will save around five million litres each year.

Flush less with Domestos Flush Less

Even though Day Zero – the day when the taps were expected to run dry in 2018 – didn’t happen, the City of Cape Town – the metropolitan municipality which implements all the functions of local government – has continued to impose heavy water consumption restrictions. Current water-saving measures include asking people to flush the toilet only when necessary, keeping the ‘If it’s yellow, let it mellow’ philosophy in mind.1

To respond to the water crisis in South Africa, in 2018 we introduced Domestos Flush Less, a toilet spray that disinfects and eliminates odours without the need to flush. The smell of urine is neutralised and eliminated by the spray’s sophisticated fragrance. And odour-causing bacteria is killed by the spray’s disinfecting active ingredient.

“The fragrant odour-killing spray is easy to use, effective and gives residents some reprieve from the dire situation they face,” says Domestos Senior Brand Manager, Ant Borstlap. “It serves to help households and businesses save water by reducing the number of times they flush their toilets.”

1The City of Cape Town