How To Make A DIY Rain Water Barrel

Water is life. The more water that we can store around the homestead, the better.

Once you build an outdoor collection system, it will store water without you having to think about it. Plus, the water is stored outside in the rain collection barrel, so it’s not taking up precious space inside your home.

Rain water can be used for:


  • Drinking
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Gardening
  • Water for animals
  • Hygiene
  • Basically, anything you use tap water for now.
a rain barrel in a backyard

Morgan Garcia / Nifty Homestead

If you do plan to cook or drink with rainwater, sanitize the water first. Even though rain water in itself is usually safe to drink, it does sit in a container where bacteria or other contaminants can get in.
Err on the side of caution and boil it before drinking or cooking with it. The EPA recommends getting water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minutes, and longer at elevations above 5,000 feet.

Materials You’ll Need

    • 50-gallon trash can with lid and landscape fabric

    • 3/4″ garden spigot

  • Double threaded bulkhead fitting with internal thread size of 3/4”

Tools You’ll Need

  • Gorilla Tape—do not substitute duct tape.
  • Teflon tape
  • Scissors
  • Black marker
  • Razor blade or heavy-duty shears

How To Build It

  • Place the bulkhead near the bottom of the trash can and trace a circle around it. Leave enough room near the bottom to screw in the nut on the back of the bulkhead.
  • Cut a hole where you marked.

  • Insert the bulkhead through the hole and screw the back nut on and make sure it’s snug.


  • Take the teflon tape and wrap it around the threading of the garden spigot. Wrap it around three or four times.

  • Screw the garden spigot into the bulkhead. Make sure the spigot is snug and that it’s facing downwards. If it doesn’t end facing downwards, you can remove it and add more teflon tape as needed.

  • Take the trash can lid and cut a hole in the top with a razor blade or heavy shears.

  • Make the hole about the size seen in the picture above. Set aside.

  • The landscape fabric is there to keep mosquitoes and debris out. Place the landscape fabric over the opening of the trash can. Cut so that excess fabric hangs over all sides.

  • Place the trash can lid on top of the fabric, then use the Gorilla Tape secure the fabric against the trash can. Make sure the fabric is taut over the barrel when taping.

  • At this point, construction is complete. Make sure that it’s raised off the ground. Doing so will make it easier to collect water from the system and to keep it in good condition.

  • Test the barrel to make sure there aren’t any leaks. Pour enough water into the barrel so that water comes through when you open the spigot. Make sure there are no leaks in the spigot or bulkhead. Also check the rest of the barrel for leaks. This test will also help you determine if the fabric is taut. The water should accumulate in the middle of the fabric and eventually go through.

  • You can place the rain barrel under a gutter, or you can place it somewhere that will guarantee that it gets direct, concentrated rain.

Here’s the whole process as a video:

This system is cost-effective and easy to make, so spread them around your homestead. With multiple rain barrels, you’ll have plenty of clean, pure water.

Morgan Garcia lives on an urban homestead with her husband, infant daughter, and two dogs in Texas. 

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