Photo courtesy of Anwar Huq, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Today’s blog is about how the sari can help reduce cholera. So if you are thinking about throwing your straggly sari away, think again.


Cholera, a deadly diarrheal disease transmitted through water, continues to plague the developing world where it is difficult to access clean drinking water. Most people die from cholera because of dehydration and not from the bacteria itself, given it is treatable through antibiotics.


In 2010, researchers from Bangladesh and University of Maryland teamed up and experimented with developing an effective and cheap water filter: a sari folded 4 times. From 1999 to 2000, they went to three villages with high rates of cholera and asked villagers to fold their saris 4 to 8 times and place the sari on brass and aluminum pots, known as “kalash” in Bangladesh. The pots are dipped in the pond, canal or river, and enters the pot through the sari cloth. The villagers were told to decontaminate the sari filters after each use.


They found that old saris made of cotton were the most effective in removing the cholera bacteria. The rate of cholera dropped by half and the sari filters removed other germs that caused diarrhea and other digestive problems.


The researchers came back to the villages 5 years later and found that nearly one-third of women were still using saris filter for household water.


So instead of throwing your used cotton saris away, why not donate them to help families get drinkable water and help reduce cholera in the world.


For organizations: If you send or donate saris to South Asia or elsewhere, please contact us at We want to partner with you on donating saris from women in the U.S.A.


If you like reading medical journal articles, you can find the original research article at the National Institutes of Health or the American Society for Microbiology.


If you prefer reading it the less scientific way you can read it on several news sites including The New York Times, Huffington Post, Scientific American, and CNN, as well as others.