Dirt in a Jar, Laundry Scientists, and Clean Water

I was recently approached about P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program.  If I would like to try it out, and share it with my readers.

You bet I hit respond to that email immediately.  Because as you know, I love using this space to educate.  To make the ittiest, bittiest, most microscopic difference…and if I can teach my privileged kids a thing or two about the world outside their impossibly cushy walls, THIS IS GOLD.

Yes, this is the same P&G that makes many of the cleaning supplies under your sink.  The Tide, Swiffer, Mr. Clean, Dawn and Crest.  Yup, same guys.  (Mr. Clean, proprietor of the most magical of all erasers, this mother of four WANTS TO MARRY YOU.)

But P&G likes to consider their Purifier of Water packet their greatest and most important “cleaning product” of all.  Powder technology invented by their laundry scientists (imagine being that guy’s date at a party!  Fascinating!), they figured out a way to transform dirty water into clean drinking water.  Over ten years ago, they founded the non-profit program and distribute these little packets through emergency relief efforts, NGO partners, and governments in over 75 countries.

So, what exactly is this magical little packet and what does it do?

I WILL SHOW YOU.  Because it is AMAZING.


P&G sent me an entire kit.

It had everything we needed to make dirty water…including a jar of dirt!…and then everything we needed to make it clean drinking water.

(You are so cute, P&G, for providing dirt, but I assure you this home has that in spades.  I appreciate the vote of confidence, but we Gibsons specialize in dirt.  Hence the love of your erasers made of unicorn tears.)


First, we started with a little bit of clean tap water…and added dirt from the little jar they sent us.  Because it was so cute and little and somehow probably cleaner than my dirt.


As they gave it a good mix, turning the water a deep brown, almost black color, I talked to them about the scarcity of clean water for so many children around the world.

“Could you imagine, Lucy, if you asked me for a glass of water, and I handed you a cup wit THIS in it?”

Smooshed noses and looks of disgust.

“And even worse, this is just dirt.  And probably pretty clean dirt at that.  For many children, the water they drink is filled with animal poop and sometimes even poop from people.  But the really worst part of it is that so many kids actually die from this.  Not only is it gross to us in general, but people, and especially little kids, get so sick from their dirty water that they die.  Millions of kids die every year from not having clean water to drink.”

I’m always amazed at how shocked my kids are by the stories I tell of poverty around the world.  The truth is, I make it a point to speak often and candidly of the strife of others and always the added instruction on how we can help.  But most importantly, why we MUST help.

And yet, every time, the stories fall on ears as if they have never heard them.  Although I suppose stories of dirty water and dying babies is akin to those of Don Quixote fighting giants made of windmills, or Harry almost tumbling out of the Weasley’s flying car, to their little ears.


But still I tell the stories.  We learn about the programs.  We donate.  We collect.  We try our best to do the Good Things, even if it doesn’t always seem to stick.

As we topped off our jug with more water, I was reminded of this quote from Susan Wise in her book, “The Well Trained Mind“:

Your goal is to supply mental pegs on which later information can be hung.  Think of an experience most adults have had.  You read about a minor movie star, and suddenly you see his name everywhere.  You learn a new vocabulary word and instantly notice it sprinkled through all sorts of different texts.  You happen across the name of a tiny, obscure foreign country and in the next few days notice a dozen news items about it.  You might remark “What a coincidence!”  Usually though, the information has surrounded you all along…Once the information entered your memory, you recognized it an began to accumulate more and more details.”


And so, for the sake of installing really sturdy mental pegs in the minds of my children, I keep reminding them.

I keep on keeping on telling them the stories of others.

We sit in the safety of our backyard, half dozen hoses at arm’s reach with a twist of a knob and gallons upon gallons of clean water ready to pour out, we make dirty water and we pour packets that provide the backdrop for stories that extend thousands of miles away.


Brother mixes the contents of the packet in for five minutes.  He complains that his arm hurts.  I keep telling them stories.  Stories of children who carry giant jugs on their heads for miles…only to still have dirty water served.

How wonderful it would be if all those boys and girls and moms and dads had these tiny little packets.

“Even the tiny babies die, mommy?”

“Yes.  Especially the tiny babies, Lucy.”


Five minutes were up, and the water didn’t look any more appetizing.  But it did seem to be clumping…


…and clumping…


…and settling….


We gave it one last paper towel filter…


It was shocking, really.


A tiny packet developed by laundry scientists (I’m sorry, I still can’t over this…) and BABIES DON’T HAVE TO DIE, LUCY.

(As an aside, we were asked to not actually drink the water…the packet is designed to clean 2.5 gallons of water/10 liters…our plastic jug wasn’t that large, and so this small scale demonstration could leave too much chlorine residual in the final water.)


Do YOU (yes, you) want to do a wee little bit where you are and with what you have?

Just watch the “Power of Clean Water” video below and leave a blog post comment.  One randomly selected reader will receive a P&G product basket (value of at least $50) and a $30 donation in their honor to provide clean water for a family in need for one year.

Wait.  Read that again.

$7.50 provides enough water for a YEAR for a child.

$30 provides enough water for an ENTIRE FAMILY FOR A  YEAR.

This is shocking and, I don’t even have words.

You can donate directly HERE.


Disclosure and Givewaway Rules:  I partnered with The Motherhood on this project and was compensated for my participation.  As always, all opinions are mine, and I ONLY partner with brands/causes near and dear to my heart…and hopefully yours too.  As for the giveaway, no purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited. Open to legal residents of US & DC who are 18 years of age or older.  Giveaway starts 10/20/2015 and ends 10/31/2015.  Sponsored by The Motherhood in partnership with Procter and Gamble. For the full list of rules, click here.


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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

Latest posts by jeannett (see all)


  1. 1
    Melle@featheredruffles says:

    Watching it clump was pretty cool just in your pictures. I can’t imagine in person. I kind of want to dirty up some water so I can clean it.

    But then that’s the whole point, right?

    We have enough water even in the face of areas kf drought that Ican consider *making* water dirty just so I can clean it.

    Those kids…. They don’t have a choice. It’s not a cool science experiment to them.

    It’s life and death. Actual. Factul. Life and death.

  2. 2
    Mary Foster says:

    This is amazing! Our church just had a group come speak who make some incredible water purification systems and set them up in villages around the world but this seems so accessible for individuals and families. I love that the researchers who often must use their minds to increase profits for the company could also (and were encouraged to) use their minds for the good of others. Cannot wait to show my kiddos this video and am sharing it on Facebook also. Thanks so much for teaching us so we can teach others!!

  3. 3

    That is so amazing. And life transforming! I can’t wait to show my 7 year old daughter this video. She will empty her piggy bank to donate to this worthy cause. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will pass it on.

  4. 4
    Carrie Haughey says:

    So crazy how it just all clumps and falls to the bottom! Love that there are options to sponsor beyond just building wells everywhere, because we can’t get wells everywhere right away, but we can get these magic packets out there!

  5. 5
    Amy Bounds says:

    Thank you for sharing. I had no idea P&G were developing clean water solutions.

  6. 6

    Wow, what an amazing product!

  7. 7

    Thanks for sharing Jeanette! I love reading what you write and the way you share it. I love that you like to share things like this too. Very cool and awesome project. It’s amazing and so beneficial. Thanks again.

  8. 8
    Katherine says:

    That is pretty amazing. My kids couldn’t get over it!

  9. 9

    I can’t wait to show my husband and daughter the video. Amelia will be stunned and my husband will find the science fascinating. In our world of privilege, the least we can do is to pay attention to the world around us and to help, in some small way. I can’t believe how far $30 will go. Mind blower.

  10. 10
    Jennifer W says:

    I saw this product years ago in an ad in a scientific magazine. This seems like such an awesome product. The curious side of me can’t help but wonder if along with the dirt, does this product remove the bacteria and other microscopic things that can cause health issues? I would guess that it does if they call the end product clean water. What a difference P&G is making in lots of lives!!

  11. 11

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful technology and for your diligence in teaching your children about those less fortunate and showing them practical ways to help. It’s an inspiration to me!!

  12. 12

    Oh wow! Amazing what it does to the brown water! What a wonderful product for so many around the world who do not have clean drinking water. Oh it sure makes you think….this is so wonderful!

  13. 13

    That. Was. Amazing.

  14. 14

    That was so cool seeing it go from undrinkable, to clean and clear water!

    Thanks for the chance to win!

    wildorchid985 AT gmail DOT com