Why are there two taps in the UK?

An expat demonstrates the frustrations of using two taps in the UK

two taps UK

Ada gets ready to wash her hands.

If you’ve ever ventured to Britain, you will have noticed that sinks have two taps in the UK. This is a huge cause of frustration to visitors. Due to separate taps for hot and cold water, they find it impossible to get the right temperature.

When washing your hands, you’ll have to make due by flitting between scalding hot and freezing cold water.

separate taps UK

Separate taps.

But why? I just want a pleasant wash!

The explanation for this seemingly illogical tap system is that hot water used to be considered unsafe for drinking, since it was heated in the tank commonly found in the house’s attic. These tanks could be infected with dead rats, among other things.

Sinks in the UK

Taps galore!

Frustration over UK taps

The look of frustration.

These days, although the hot water is most likely perfectly safe, the tradition continues. Even buildings fitted with brand new sinks usually have two separate taps.

While the extreme water temperatures may be unpleasant, no, this is not an excuse to skip hand washing. So use the British technique and make due with cold water (perhaps with some drops of the scathing hot stream in between).

Taps in the UK

Not so bad after all?

Good luck.



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