With summer looming on the horizon and the California drought becoming an ever increasing problem, water conservation is undoubtedly a concern if not a necessity. Faced with a mandatory 25% water consumption reduction imposed by the State of California, my wife and I decided to seriously look at how we could further reduce our water usage — and for the water we must use, how we could reuse as much as possible where it made sense. Unfortunately, as a couple who already self-imposed deep water restrictions in mid-2014, the State’s latest mandatory 25% reduction on top of what we were already doing to conserve made the government’s ask feel all the more egregious.
And so, here we are.
Looking around the house for ways to even further conserve and reuse water, we stumbled across the ole’ washing machine. A classic Kenmore 500, this bad boy is clearly a big consumer of household water — fill up, wash, rinse, repeat. Studying the machine and its operation, my wife and I noticed just how much relatively clean greywater we were pumping down the drain during each wash cycle.
The light bulbs above both of our heads went on almost in unison — lets capture that water for the yard!
A quick trip to the hardware store, and bingo: ten minutes and $11 later we had the parts needed to send our washing machine greywater water into a garden hose.
Your washing machine, and garden hose, will almost certainly be different so you should get a tape measure and identify the right drain hose dimensions for your washing machine.
Here’s what we used:
- Flexible Rubber Pipe Coupler with Clamps
- PVC Schedule 40, Slip x NPT Female Adapter
- PVC Schedule 40, NPT Male x MHT Male Adapter
- Garden Hose
With two hands, a wrench, and a gentle but firm touch you should be able to assemble these parts like so:
Some PVC glue for the slip to NPT adapter, and vinyl plumbers tape for the threads is good too, if you’re into that sort of thing.
And there you have it: a relatively cheap and clever solution to capture greywater water from your washing machine to be used in/around your yard.
We did some digging and from what we can tell, mild detergents are not a problem for most ornamental plants and trees — of course, environmentally friendly detergents that degrade easily are best. And, it should go without saying, but chlorine bleach/borax is harmful for any living thing so you should avoid draining the water from bleached loads onto your yard.
Our plants love it — my wife and I have been watering our yard using this method for several weeks now, and thus far, everything is healthy. Despite our fears, not a single plant has keeled over and died (yet) being watered with washing machine greywater.
- I take no responsibility and hold no liability if, for whatever reason, you break your washing machine or kill the plants in your yard using greywater from your washing machine. Do your own homework, any mistakes are on you.
- Some cities/municipalities have laws regarding greywater usage in/around homes. Before you try any of this, you should consult with your city officials to make sure it’s OK to water your yard with greywater.
- It should go without saying, but the water that comes out of your washing machine is non-potable. Meaning you cannot, and should not, drink it. Keep thirsty pets and animals away too.
- Don’t try to store greywater — in a 50-gallon drum, garbage can, etc. It’s gross. Apparently if you want to store greywater, there are advanced systems you can buy that will let you do exactly that. Storing untreated greywater from a washing machine in a 50-gallon drum is just asking for trouble.