Greywater is a fantastic way to save water, however, the products that we use to clean ourselves and our household items can be detrimental to the soil and plants that are watered with it. To minimize future soil problems, one must be a bit discerning when choosing cleaning products. Many products like bleach or other chemicals can kill plants outright. Even if a product is labeled as “biodegradable,” “natural,” or “eco-friendly” , this does not mean that is good to use for watering your yard. Due to low rainfall and high evaporation rates in San Diego many ingredients that would be perfectly fine in wetter climates can build up in our soils and cause long term problems. To ensure healthy plants and soil, keep these three ingredients to a minimum:
- Salt or Sodium anything (examples include sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium hydroxide)
- Boron or borax
For a full list of ingredients to watch out for and to learn more about greywater friendly soaps and detergents check out this site.
For washing machines
Use liquid detergents over powdered ones as they tend to have less salts. The two that we recommend are Oasis and Ecos. Avoid chlorine-based products such as chlorine bleach. Instead, use oxygenated bleaches such as hydrogen peroxide. Do not overuse disinfectants since they kill beneficial microbes in the soil.
For showers and sinks
Liquids soaps are preferred over bar soaps as they have less salts. A pure castile soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s, is perfect for greywater as is Oasis dish or all purpose cleaner. For shampoo and conditioner look over the labels to ensure that you are not using a lot of sodium.