The Q&A Archives: Watering Vegetable Gardens With Recycled Water

Question: We are interested in recycling water from our washing machine and dishwasher to assist in watering a small vegetable/herb garden. We've been told the research indicates that this is not a good idea. Can you provide me with information regarding this issue? Or, in the alternative, where I can get information on the advisability of it. Thank you.

Answer: In general, graywater should be free from oils and foodscraps so this would make dishwasher water unacceptable. It should also be free of bleach and other chemicals (such as borax) which may be found in some laundry products so you need to be careful about that. You may find that only the rinsewater is acceptable. Some people mix the graywater half and half with fresh water in order to dilute it. It is usually recommended that it not be applied to root crops or container plants or be a plant's only source of water. Before you make your decision I would suggest you contact your local County Extension (483-5161) for their most up-to-date information about using graywater in your garden or landscape. In some cases, too, there are state or local laws about using it so you might check into that as well.

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