Solar water disinfection (SODIS) is a well-established inexpensive means of water disinfection in developing countries, but lacks an indicator to illustrate its end-point. A study of the solar UV dosage required for SODIS, in order to achieve a bacteria concentration below the detection limit for: Escherichia coli, Enterococcus spp. and Clostridium perfringens, in water in PET bottles, PE and PE/EVA bags showed disinfection to be most efficient in PE bags, with a solar UV (290–385 nm) dose of 389 kJ m−2 required. In parallel to the disinfection experiments, a range of polyoxometalate, semiconductor photocatalysis and photodegradable dye-based solar UV dosimeter indicators were tested under the same solar UV irradiation conditions. All three types of dosimeter produced indicators that largely and significantly change colour upon exposure to 389 kJ m−2 solar UV; further indicators are reported which change colour at higher doses and hence would be suitable for the less efficient SODIS containers tested. All indicators tested were robust, easy to use and inexpensive so as not to add significantly to the attractive low cost of SODIS. Furthermore, whilst semiconductor photocatalyst and photodegradable dye based indicators are disposable, one-use systems, the polyoxometalate based indicators recover colour in the dark overnight, allowing them to be reused, and hence further decreasing the cost of using indicators during the implementation of the SODIS method.