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Using Grey Water From Your Washer for The Garden

This one comes from my dad. When I was young, he maintained a very large garden and my mom canned most of the fruits and veggies that we ate. One year because of a water main break, all outdoor watering was banned. So he took a garden hose and attached it to the drain of the washer machine and placed out a window in such a way that the water would drain downhill once it left the house.

Every time my mom would do a load of laundry, she would move the hose end so that a new area of the garden could get watered. Because there were 6 in the family, we did a lot of laundry and our garden was able to stay watered all year.

Now I live in TX and we are having a drought. So next year when I start my garden, I am going to figure out exactly how to do this. I asked a plumber and he said buy the largest diameter garden hose you can fit in to your washer's drain hose. Take a rope of plumbers putty and slide the garden hose at lease 1 foot in to the drain hose and then wrap the plumbers putty around the garden hose to seal the drain hose.

To make sure that the putty stays in place, run some overlapping layers of duct tap from about 3 inches above the end of the drain hose, continuing down to the about 3 inches down the garden hose. This should form a water tight seal. Make sure that neither hose is kinked and test it.

Source: My Dad, Dennis and my local plumber

By Cleo1978 from Lubbock, TX

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By Debbie Jennings [2]08/06/2009

We have our washing machine hose (the outlet hose) ran to the garden area. We can't move it, but I want to hook onto it with another piece of PVC that has holes drilled in it so it will water the garden. (Our bath water goes out there, too.) I'm also in Texas. The eastern part.

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Archive: Watering the Garden With Water From Your Washer

By Ellen Brown

Q: Is it possible to water the garden with the water from your washer? Maybe just the rinse water? Mine goes into a holding tub before it goes to the drain, as my plumbing is old and the drains will not take the force of water from the washer. I could use a garden hose to drain the tub into the flower beds. Would this work or would the soap kill the plants? I would not use the water with the bleach! Got any ideas?

Hardiness Zone: 4b

Thanks!
PrairieLady from SD

A: PrairieLady,

Yes, you can use your washer water to water the garden, but keep a few things in mind. If you can rig up a way to use only the water from your rinse, that would be ideal. If you use an eco-friendly detergent, that would also be fine. If these two options are not feasible, avoid detergents (and fabric softeners) with high levels of sodium, bleach or borax. They may harm the soil and your plants. A simple system might consist of an elevated plastic garbage can (about 2' off the ground for gravity) fitted with a hose for the water to flow out of. Fit a screen across the center of the can (inside about midway down) to collect lint (using one on the hose from the washer is sure to clog). Good luck!

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com


RE: Watering the Garden With Water From Your Washer

Your question brought back memories! My mother used her wash water (wash and rinse cycles) to water her garden. She never had problems with aphids and her garden always looked great. As long as you don't use bleach water you should be fine. I would do it too but can't do to area washer is located. (01/22/2006)

By thriftychristy

RE: Watering the Garden With Water From Your Washer

I wouldn't hesitate to use the wash water as well as the rinse water on my flowers or lawn. I think the detergent will make everything lush and green. It contains phosphates. Best of luck (01/23/2006)

By Carol

RE: Watering the Garden With Water From Your Washer

Yes, indeed! I have had great success using the rinse water for my gardens. My washing machine is in the basement and I have to dip the water out manually but it is worth the effort to save on water costs. Otherwise the plants have to fend for themselves! (01/23/2006)

By Charlotte

RE: Watering the Garden With Water From Your Washer

First, the soap does not hurt the plants. But I believe the soaps and bleaches kill the beneficial bacteria which convert organic matter in the soil to the basic nutrients for the plants. If you use fertilizer you should not have any long term problems. (01/25/2006)

By bulrush

RE: Watering the Garden With Water From Your Washer

Well, I've been using our wash and rinse waters in our backyard now for a lot of years. My Hawaiian Hibiscus is the most beautiful and lush plant anyone could ask for...and I wish everyone could grow papayas like the ones our huge trees bear. My okra, tomatoes and peppers surprised even me. I can remember my mother using all her wash and rinse waters for her flower and vegetable gardens all her life, and if it created a problem of any kind, you sure couldn't tell it by looking. She lived in Florida all her life, and I've been here most of mine. I would think that what is good for Florida soil would be OK for any other. We do have a lot of sand, here and have to do a lot of composting in order to have a soil for planting, and we have to do a lot of shading in the worst of the heat in summer, and we do have to control the many buggies that like our vegetables and fruits, but our grass and lawns look green and healthy enough around here, thanks to my good old wash water.

Wishing you all the best. Julia in Orlando, FL (01/30/2006)

By Julia

RE: Watering the Garden With Water From Your Washer

Wash water will not hurt your plants. I have also used our bath water on plants when it was really dry one summer and the plants loved it. The soap in the water also helps control aphids.

Happy watering-- (01/30/2006)

By Crystal from Bennettsville, South Carolina

RE: Watering the Garden With Water From Your Washer

I used wash water in my garden for many years, and never had any problems. I even used bleach water with no apparent ill effect. The zoning laws in my area prohibited using "grey water", and I had to stop using the wash water, which seemed silly to me. I ran the laundry water into a 50-gallon drum with a spigot at the bottom. Then ran a garden hose to wherever I wanted to water. It worked great. My setup didn't produce enough pressure to use a sprinkler so I sort of soaked each area. The only problem I ever had was with my ducks and geese. The birds would splash in the water and the soap dispersed the oil in their feathers, which made them non-waterproof. It's probably best not to let ANY pets near the laundry water when you're watering the garden! (01/31/2006)

By manson

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