The Q&A Archives: Reusing Water

Question: I'm moving to an area where water has to be hauled in. Can I reuse my used household water if there is soap in it?

Answer: Ron,

That is a tough question because it is a matter of degree. Water with some soap is fine to use on occasion to water plants. Some plants will be more sensitive than others and the concentration and type of soap may determine the degree of safety. For years people have used dish water on plants with little ill effects.

If water supplies are short in your area and you wish to use "grey water" (water from household uses) on your vegetable garden, a few rules should be observed:

Finally I'll add the following quote in recycling household water for plants from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service:

"Do not use any water run through the toilet, because of the possibility of contamination from fecal organisms.

Avoid the use of kitchen waste water that contains grease or harsh cleaners, ammonia, bleach, softeners, or non-biodegradable detergents.

If using water from the bathtub or washing machine, use only mild, biodegradable soaps. Omit softeners and bleaches. Allow the wash and rinse water to mix, if possible, to dilute the soap content.

Never use a borax-containing product (such as washing soda) in water to be used on a garden because of the danger of applying plant-toxic levels of boron.

Apply grey water to the soil, not to plant leaves."

Thanks for the question. Please feel free to stop in again with another question any time we can help!

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