Posts tagged ‘greywater recycling’

Greywater System-Friendly Natural DIY Laundry Detergent

If you’re using a greywater recycling system on your homestead, you already know that harsh detergents and soaps are a no-no. You can buy natural detergents, but some of them are ridiculously expensive. The point is to spend less money not more, am I right? After looking around, googling, thinking and experimenting, we have come up with a very simple recipe for DIY laundry soap that is safe for your greywater system. It won’t hurt your plants and won’t harm the soil or the environment. It’s also pretty cheap to make. Cool, huh?

You will need: IMG_20160229_070151

This recipe is very easy. You simply combine equal parts of everything (like maybe 1/4 cup each) and mix it all together in a container. One small scoop per load does the trick. Most recipes call for lye or Fels Naptha soap, but with the yucca root powder or soapnut powder, it isn’t necessary. They are the “soaps” instead of lye or Fels Naptha. This recipe has no fragrance, but you could add an essential oil to it if you want it to smell nice. You could also technically use soapnut or yucca powder all by themselves as a totally natural laundry soap.

If you don’t want to buy washing soda or if you have an absolutely humongous box of baking soda (like we do for some reason), you can make some washing soda by spreading baking soda on a cookie sheet and baking it at 425 for up to an hour, stirring about halfway through the time. (At 400 degrees, baking soda undergoes a chemical process that changes it into washing soda.)

When rinsing your laundry, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to every 5 gallons of rinse water to soften and remove odors. You’re done! Laundry comes out fresh, clean and odor-free. More importantly, the greywater is nontoxic to your garden or your land.

*NOTE: Like many things, both Borax and washing soda can become dangerous to plants if too much is used, so don’t overdo it. This recipe works very well and you don’t need much; a little goes a long way, especially if you are using rainwater (it contains no minerals and it’s naturally soft).

The Importance of Greywater

If you live on a homestead or are planning to in the future, you’ve probably heard of greywatergreywater. So what the heck is it?! Grey water is a term used to describe the relatively clean waste water from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances. Basically, grey water is “used” water that is not toilet water (that’s called “black water”).

If you are moving to a homestead, you need to have a plan for what will happen to your greywater. It has to go somewhere. Many folks use it to irrigate their garden or orchard, but this can be tricky if you use detergents or harsh soaps in your laundry. Too much of that stuff can kill your plants, and you might not have the money or knowledge to create a complicated filtering system. A good way to get around that is to use non-detergent soaps in your cleaning applications. You can either buy it or make your own using non-detergent “soaps” like yucca root and soapnuts, as we do. You should still filter the water at least a little, of course. There can be organic matter in it, such as from washing dishes and it needs to be purified a bit. However, if you are composting your scraps and not allowing large particles of food down the drain, you don’t have to worry too much.

It’s easy enough to divert your greywater to your garden or orchard site. You simply run itwater filter
through a pipe that opens into a drainage area. That’s it! It’s best to use a system that relies on water flow rather than pooling or collection. This cuts down on pathogens and bacteria allowed to grow in it. You don’t want to store greywater unless you’ve got a good purification system set up for cleaning it. If you’re going to use it for a garden of edible veggies, ditto. We personally use vinegar in the laundry rinse water, as a conditioning rinse for our hair in the shower, and we plan on constructing a natural filtration system for it in the drainage area. You could also add hydrogen peroxide to your greywater system to help with purifying it. It can be good for plants, too!

It should go without saying that it isn’t recommended to reuse greywater for drinking or cooking, regardless of whether you’ve cleaned it or not. If you need a clean drinking water solution for your homestead, try harvesting rain water and purifying it with a Berkey water filtration system. No power needed!

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