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av-geek 04-18-2012 01:23 PM

washing machine water for landscaping
I was thinking I could use the soapy water from washing clothes to water plants around the home. Instead of discharging it into the septic system, I wanted to simply put the washer hose in a large tank or bucket, then pour it onto the plants growing around the house after doing a few loads of laundry. I mean, each load probably uses about 40-50 gallons of water.

My biggest worry however would be what the laundry detergent would do to the plants. Is Laundry detergent rather benign to plants, or will it completely foul up the soil and make kill everything on it. My wife and I don't use bleach or any strong cleaners on our wash...Just Arm & Hammer "free" (unscented, dye free detergent) And neither one of us do really dirty jobs at work, so we won't be cleaning stuff off our clothes like engine oil, or other toxic substances, so I am thinking this may work

user1007 04-18-2012 01:35 PM

High phosphate detergents might wack the soil chemistry but many people use washing machine water in the garden. I would think about some sort of rain barrel/storage tank and a filtered drip system to distribute it.

You should test the soil and monitor it once in awhile though.

av-geek 04-19-2012 10:34 AM

You are thinking the same way I am. I simply wanted to pump the washing machine water into a rain barrel, and then use it from there. I think we are using a rather mild detergent, and around here, I don't even think they will allow phosphate based detergents to be used because of Chesapeake Bay pollution requirements, so I think I am good there

user1007 04-19-2012 10:42 AM

Might check with state DNR and University ag extension to see if they have any publications or thoughts on this.

cibula11 04-19-2012 11:46 AM

Waste water is suppose to be used in a "closed system" if I remember correctly, which means that technically you cannot just take it and use it. Just like you are not suppose to let plumbing fixtures (toilet, sink, shower, etc.) run into the main floor drain in the basement.

Now, suppose none of that really concerns you, I guess you could try it and see what happens. I know that the first rinse would have the majority of the soap, but the second would be mostly water without the detergent. I also know that some homemade fertilizers contain dish soap, which sticks the the weeds and kills them too.

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