We catch our gray water in a bucket in our shower. When the bucket fills we use the gray water in five different ways. Here are the five uses we have for gray water.
- Uses for gray water #1: Use gray water to water the plants
House plants look beautiful, “breathe out” oxygen, help filter your air, and don’t talk back (like your children.) Many hardy house plants easily tolerate gray water. One of our main uses for gray water is watering our philodendrons, pathos, and dracaenas. But don’t use gray water on temperamental plants. I’ve found that rattlesnake plants, mother-in-law tongues, and dumb canes protest when watered with gray water.
- Use gray water to make your own laundry detergent
Best use of gray water ever. Especially if it has soap or shampoo in it, courtesy of the others members of your home. While a little soap in the water may make your houseplants unhappy (see #1), it’s perfect for DIY detergent.
- Uses for gray water #3: Use gray water to water the compost
In order to have an awesome compost, you need to water it from time to time, and also turn it over. This helps the decaying vegetable matter decompose into mineral rich soil you can use on your garden and around your trees. We are lackadaisical composers at best. Don’t worry about doing it right—just compost. Throw your gray water on it from time to time and it will be happy. (Caveat: it’s important to use soaps and shampoos with all natural ingredients so you aren’t polluting your compost with synthetic chemicals.)
- Use gray water to wash muddy boots
Our daughter is in a learning pod where the kids spend a lot of time outside. It gets muddy and mucky on the land, so much so that she comes home with shoes that are encased with dirt. A scrub brush and a glorious bucket of gray water = best way to clean her filthy shoes. (And full disclosure: for good measure, after I get all the mud off, I usually need to throw them in the washing machine.)
- Last of the uses for gray water: Flush the toilet with it
This only works with certain toilets. If yours is already low flush, don’t use gray water to flush it ’cause it won’t work. But for many toilets flushing with gray water works perfectly, saving you money and conserving water.
What did I forget? Do you use gray water in your home? If so, how do you catch it, and what are your favorite uses for gray water?
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Helga Motley says
I keep a bucket next to the kitchen sink, which has a plastic tub in one (of 2) parts. When that tub fills from rinsing stuff, or rinsing dishes…. I pour the water into the bucket. Then the bucket is used to keep my very large compost pile moist during the dry season. I’m always very careful about the type of soaps I used.
I take baths instead of showers, and for a while I would scoop out leftover bathwater into buckets, take it outside to water my non-edible landscaping. Because I use no soap in my bath, it is not harmful.
When I used to live on the second floor of an apartment building, I devised a long hose and suction system to get the whole bathtub’s water to travel down to water our tree. Once you get suction going, it only uses the gravity of the flow to continue.
Reduce and reuse … it’s a satisfying challenge