Question about using dishwater on plants....

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by southrngardngal, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. southrngardngal

    southrngardngal Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Location:
    Philadelphia, Mississippi
    I have decided to use dishpans to wash and rinse my dishes instead of letting so much water run down the drain. I am trying to conserve water since we haven't had any rain to amount to anything in several weeks. I am trying to reuse any that can be reused also.

    The rinse water is pretty clear and clean so I feel like it is all right to water plants with but what about the water the dishes are washed in. Is it all right to pour around plants like the garden plants?

    What about bath water? Can it be used to water plants too?

    Thanks for any help.

    Jan
     
  2. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    Bristol, ny
    I throw dirty dish water out into the grass all the time and I'd do the same with water from the shower if It were plumbed that way. The grass grows very nice there.
     

  3. Fla Gal

    Fla Gal Bunny Poo Monger Supporter

    Messages:
    3,067
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2003
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I've been doing it for years, around the plants and garden plants. I do the same with mop water except, I use it only on the grass when I use 20 Muleteam Borax. It helps rid the yard of fleas.
     
  4. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,727
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2003
    Back years ago when everyone used dish pans they used to have the best gardens right out the back door where they threw the water. The soaps they used back then were real soap instead of the detergents we have today so you might want to use caution until your sure of the results.
     
  5. southrngardngal

    southrngardngal Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Location:
    Philadelphia, Mississippi
    I use dish detergent to do the dishes. Do any of you use the homemade soaps or dishwashing detergents or do you also use the store bought kind?

    Thank you all for your replies.

    Jan
     
  6. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    19,807
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    MIL uses regular dish detergent (Dawn?) to do the dishes at the farm, and always pours it out on the plants. So far, so good!

    I think I'd avoid any anti-bacterial detergents, though.

    Too bad there aren't phosphates in detergent anymore -- think of how your garden would grow! ;)

    Pony!
     
  7. southrngardngal

    southrngardngal Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Location:
    Philadelphia, Mississippi
    Thank you for your help. We are trying to reuse anything that we can and with the lack of rain recently, we thought this would be a good reuse of water. I don't know why I haven't thought of this before.

    We are carrying the bath water out and putting it around our garden plants and my houseplants that are outside right now. It is more work but we are saving on our water bill and helping with the lack of water around our plants.

    Again, thank you all for the help.

    Jan
     
  8. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    734
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    You are all doing a VERY low tech grey-water system! And it does not hurt your plants. Two things you never want in the water: 1)chlorine bleach (toxic to plant roots - it will kill a tree in nothin' flat! - use only non-chlorinated bleach) and 2)dishwasher detergent (nasty stuff). Watch your water temperature - don't dump HOT water on plants.

    In southern California we had a greywater system. We ran the water from our washing machine through a low-tech filter system that was made of wood chips before it hit the roots of our small citrus orchard. Our plants were VERY VERY happy and our lawn was gorgeous. Most coastal cities in southern California use grey-water for all the city landscaping. Happy plants and no shortage of water!

    BW
     
  9. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,727
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2003
    Don't tell the epa, but the water from my sinks and tub drains out to different gardens. It was set up that way when we bought this place and I think it's a great way to reuse grey water. I do have to be careful not to put anything that could damage the garden down the sink, but I don't use anything caustic so that's not really a big problem. The only thing that goes into the septic system is the comodes.
     
  10. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,187
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2002
    Location:
    Australia
    It's not a good idea to use dishwater on your vegetables, and in fact it's not a good idea at all because of the fats and grease that you are adding to your soil. Not to mention the high concentration of bacteria. Grey water from the shower or laundry should only be used on fruit trees and ornamentals, never on your vegetables. You should also be concerned about the amount of phosphorus that you are putting into the soil - so read the labels on your detergent bottles. Remember that over time, you will be significantly changing the composition of your soil (negatively) by using grey water.

    This has become a huge issue here in Australia, much of which is seriously affected by drought, and is frequently discussed on both news and gardening programs on the media. Check out some of the advice given at this site:

    http://search.abc.net.au/search/sea...ning&query=grey+water&submit.x=13&submit.y=12
     
  11. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    6,395
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    We keep a bucket in the shower and catch water as it warms and as we shower. Any soap is very diluted before it goes to the garden.

    I save all water as I'm waiting for it to warm up in the kitchen sink and put in a five gallon bucket on the porch. To this I add dishwater and rinse water. In all, it is soooooo diluted that I don't worry a bit about concentrated anything. Except ANTIBACTERIAL--that is the devil's own in my opinion. We don't use it because it changes the bacteria in the water table and in the environment.

    Given the state of air pollution and chlorine and other chemicals in our water thanks to the petrochemicals and weed killers and pesticides used, I think a tiny bit of diluted dish detergent is nothing to worry about.

    I wash floors and clean with ammonia which is a wonderful fertilizer as well.

    When we have the time, I'll replumb the wash water out to the fruit trees.

    I'd like to add that this is how it was done for generations and generations. Our grandparents didn't run down to the creek and haul the water for all the veggies every day.They not only threw their dishwater out there but added their diluted urine to it. That's a whole nuther argument and one that is used to this day in many nations around the world.

    If the soap and tiny bits of grease worry you, just use it to flush toilets--either way, you are saving clean drinking water for it's purpose--drinking!
     
  12. southrngardngal

    southrngardngal Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Location:
    Philadelphia, Mississippi
    I poured the rinse water around the garden plants. I threw the water that I washed the dishes in out on the lawn. We carried the bath water and poured it around the tomatoes. I use natural soaps for bathing so the water doesn't have all those chemicals in it. When I say natural soaps I mean the homemade kind of soap.

    We are to a point right now that we need to use any water that we can to keep our plants going. It is so dry that our beans sticks have come up out of the ground and are about to fall and they were stuck a good nine inches into the soil.

    I don't think I ever remember the weather being like this. We usually get up to a 100 degrees two or three times in the summer but we have already reached above 100 seven times this summer and the hottest part of our summer is usually in August.

    And no rain in sight.

    Just wish my washing machine was hooked up where I could use the water from it but it drains down a hill....Yes, I know it isn't supposed to be like that but it is.

    Thank you all for the help.

    Jan
     
  13. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    6,395
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Jan, if you are using natural soaps, I wouldn't worry at all about them being harmful. Remember that most natural insecticides involve putting soap/detergent and oil in water (to make it stick).

    As for saving your wash water, My plan was to run the water into a garbage can on wheels. I'd put a spigot at the bottom of the can with plumber's putty and wheel where I wanted it.

    We have rain barrels on our house, but they are bone dry right now. However a light rain will fill up 150 gallons for us in a few minutes!
     
  14. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    6,395
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    I wanted to add about adding bacteria to the soil (Sorry culpepper, I do not agree and still respect your posts and enjoy reading them).

    First, the bacteria that is the result of bits of food that are decaying are GOOd Bacteria that are the reason that compost makes great soil. These bacteria are what the worms feed on that add fertilizer to the soil as well as make tunnels for water to flow to the roots. In addition, they are involved in the "take-up" of nutrients from the soil by roots. Good healthy soil has lots of nutrients in it because it has lots of bacteria in it.

    Second, if you are worried about becoming sick from eating something a sick person bit, that should not worry you. First, most illnesses are virus borne and the soil outdoors is not a proper medium for them to live, and multiply in. They are quickly reduced to nothing by normal biological processes.

    If you are really worried about it, don't use dishwater that was used on someone with an infectious disease.

    The bits of food in the water become fertilizer. The detergent is also fertilizer (not to mention a natural insecticide).

    That said, I wouldn't dump a cup of oil or more in one place in the garden. As I was taught in girl scouts, I broadcast oil in small amounts over a large portion of soil (not in the veg garden). Never had a problem.
     
  15. Windy_jem

    Windy_jem Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,910
    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2006
    Location:
    WI
    Ok...I want to get this right....
    Dishwasher soap is bad but regular hand liquid dish soap is ok.
    Amonia is good but chlorine bleach is bad?
    Regular store bought bath soap is ok but home made bath soap is better?
    And regular laundry detergent is ok?
    Thanks, Windy
     
  16. southrngardngal

    southrngardngal Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Location:
    Philadelphia, Mississippi
    I know this thread has sort of died out even so, I am thinking using gray water is a way of saving on your water bill and conserving water during drought times.

    I would love to set up a system to run the water from my washing machine to different parts of our garden. However, I use borax in my wash and do plan to make my own laundry detergent using borax as soon as I can locate some washing soda without having to order from someplace that charges ten prices for shipping.
    I am wondering about the borax and the effect it would have on the plants. Borax is a natural cleanser, right? And the washing soda? Would it damage the plants?

    Also, I use vinegar to cut any excess detergent left in the clothes. Vinegar kills plants so it stands to reason that if I were to use the gray water I could not use the vinegar. Right.

    I am sorry to dwell on this but I really want to figure out how to recycle used water for watering our plants without damaging the plants.

    Becky W. how did you set up your little filtering system and what kind of wood chips did you use, if you don't mind me asking?

    My hubby has agreed to help set up a grey water irrigation system if we can figure out what is harmful to the plants and what is not.

    Suggestions appreciated. Or if any of you know any sites that could help with this, I would appreciate that information also.

    Jan
     
  17. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    Messages:
    28,248
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    SE Missouri
    The soil in MS is acidic so the alkaline borax shouldn't be a problem at all unless you used it too much in a single spot. Spread around the garden I would not worry about it. The vinegar is diluted in the rinse water and should be balanced by the borax enough it won't harm the plants.

    Don't know if you mulched, but it is a good idea.
     
  18. grannygardner

    grannygardner Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,330
    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Location:
    Indiana
  19. southrngardngal

    southrngardngal Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Location:
    Philadelphia, Mississippi
    Thank you both for the help. I read the site about the greywater grannygardner.
    We are going to try the grey water but will just carry it to the plants from our home. If it works well this summer then we will try a more extensive system next summer if possible.

    We will just be careful not to splash the water on the plants and veggies. I always wash my veggies through several waters so they are washed very good.

    We finally got some good rain on Saturday afternoon and night but with the temps in the high 90's and low 100's it won't be long until we will be dry again. So it will be toting time again. But that is better than having our water bill double because we have to water our garden. Maybe it will help keep the "powers that be" from putting a limit on water usage. I know one person won't do that much good but I can always pass the word around.

    Thank you all for your information and in-put. I appreciate each of you being so willing to help.

    Jan