Recycling grey water



Old toy box used for catching water whilst I showered.

 Hi Everyone,

I know some of you will go on and on about pathogen and other issues, but those of us who remember previous droughts, hose pipe bans and the water being turned off for hours of the day, remember putting our bath water on our veggie patches and we didn’t die!!! But then again, we ate lard, didn’t use sunblock, ate red meat, rode out bikes without helmets, let the kids go anywhere and do any thing, kids amused themselves, there were no sell by or use by dates, we didn’t wash so often, we didn’t have glossy daily washed, we occasionally smelt a bit sweaty, we bought veggies with dirt on them, we cut the mould off the cheese and ate the cheese, the same with the bread and you know what, we didn’t die!

My mother used to have a Hotpoint top loader and she used to stop it and start it on a pumping out the water cycle into an old galvanised bin, then she used to bucket the water into watering cans and water the veggie garden. Our garden grew fruit and veg and the lawn was allowed to brown and die. When we had  shared baths, one out and the next one in the same water; the water was scooped out in buckets and onto the garden. We used to have a scum on that water by the time the last one came out. We didn’t bath every day, in fact weekly, with a strip wash in between. Hair was washed over the kitchen sink on a Sunday night and dried in front of the Rayburn which was lit to get the water hot. In the summer time, when it was too hot for the Rayburn to be lit, we used a Calor gas cooker in the ‘back kitchen’. The ‘front kitchen’ was actually the dining room and ‘front room’ rolled into one. In the winter, we lived in there. Washing lines ran from one side of the room to the other and we would often sit down to dinner, with dad’s Y-Fronts over our heads! My mum would just die if she knew I was telling you all this! Fortunately, even though she’s been to the over 60’s classes at the library, she can’t quite fathom the internet and has no home access to it.

As my water butt is all but empty, and I’m being careful with money so haven’t bought any more yet. I’m reusing all the water. I put a bowl under every tap in the house. The downstairs loo, the upstairs bathroom and the kitchen sink. Every time we run the tap, or wash out a cup, I save the water. I then allow it to cool and pour it into watering cans and water the garden. Today, we started doing that with our shower water.

The results of a five minute shower, we are far too frugal to even own a power shower, and this filled two watering cans. We both saved and reused our shower water this morning.

 I use the kids’ old toy boxes to stack laundry in. Today,we stood in them as we each had out shower. We actually used two watering cans each when we had out showers. After showering, we tipped the water into the watering cans, allowed them to cool and then watered the garden. I have planted Foxgloves and have split and transplanted phormiums and they need a lot of water until the roots establish themselves. The hanging baskets also need watering every day and they too had some shower water.


I thought I would show the view through my living room window. The house is south facing, with huge picture windows on the south side and the dogs laze on the sofa at the back window to stay away from the heat. By eight this morning, the garden was already being baked and Bob and Scruff had already taken up residence in the shade.

My love and prayers to all of you this Easter, and I’ll see you all again tomorrow,

Froogs xxxxx

“Jesus took my place on the cross to give me a place in heaven.”

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27 thoughts on “Recycling grey water

  1. Hi Froogs , Happy Easter to you .
    I feel so fortunate to have unmetered water…with 5 of us at home it cost could be scary if we had to pay your rate.
    We do share baths and are getting a water butt this year . May as well be prepared incase we have to go on a meter and I don't like waste.
    Jacquie x

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  2. I need to start using my grey water and invest in a water butt, something to add to my never ending list of to do's. I already use the water frommy dehumidifier (i live in such a damp area) but i must do more

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  3. Pathogens schmathogens! BAth water, washing machine water all goes on the garden. Only the dishwasher water doesn't because of all the grease and stuff.

    I ain't dead yet.

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  4. Hi Froogs,

    In Australia due to many years of drought, we use grey water all the time for fruit trees and I also water vegetables like pumpkin and zucchini (courgette). I find it safe enough, but we make sure that we use eco-friendly detergents and soaps to ensure that the soil does not become water resistant.

    Gav x

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  5. Same thoughts here – we're all too molly-coddled nowadays, and there are far more kids suffering with allergies etc as a result. If we all went back to how we used to live before all these so-called labour-saving gadgets and the PC/Nanny state came about, I'm sure we'd be a lot healthier (and happier, and better off financially!).

    I'm trying to get back to that way of life, as far as is possible, and although it can be hard work, it is actually quite rewarding. You inspire me to do more and more, FQ, thank you.

    Regards, Sooze x

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  6. Pah pathogens..a little bit of dirt never hurt anyone..thats what my gran said..i water all my flowers and strawberries with my grey water..they flower and grow..got water butts all over the garden and it all helps..
    Have a good day froogs
    love
    sara

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  7. As I was reading your post Froogs (by the way Happy Easter to you) I was reading my own childhood, although mine was much further back than yours.

    My Mum still refers to a bowl of soapy water as “lovely water” from days when it would be used and re-used. She had a gas washer, and dolly tub, then twin tub where the water was used for whites, pale coloureds, darker ones etc. and so on.

    A friend (older even than me) told me the other day that she …. you won't believe this ….. wears gloves always for shopping, washes hands first thing on re-entering house when they've been out! “because you don't know what you're touching when you're out”!

    What a lot of ************s people talk!

    All this cleanliness and obsession with special stuff to wipe down worktops etc, has made us into a nation of complete wimps.

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  8. Hey Froogs – as you are using all eco-friendly products, and home-made soaps, there is no reason NOT to use this on the garden: in fact I have found that the soapsuds tend to keep aphids off the plants – bonus!
    I also used grated soap “neat” around the outside of my raised beds last summer to deter slugs, and this seemed to work really well.
    The more I chat to folk about making do and mending, the more they are interested – we are the new revolution it seems, and it is certainly the only way to beat the credit crunch!
    FM x

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  9. I'm another one that you brought back memories for. I certainly don't miss the soap scum from sharing the bath. I need to be better with saving water, started collecting the water from the shower after we got water restrictions but since the kids have moved out I am really trying to get better but also need to educate dear hubby who is a bit slack about this.

    We have two rainwater tanks, one to water the back lawn which has been reduced by 1/2 with garden beds with native plants to reduce how much they need. Always trying to get the garden to a stage where it almost survives on its own, still a way to go. Contemplating planting some vegetables in the front garden as it is the only spot that would get enough sun, so will need to sort out some extra water for this, possibly another rainwater tank.

    Hope you had a good easter break, look forward to your next post.
    xxx Teresa

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  10. Happy Easter Frugal Queen & Family

    I am quite a new reader of your Blog – but I LOVE IT.
    We use grey water to water all of our tubs, and the plants are thriving. We have been really surprised at how much water can be collected from just keeping a jug under the kitchen tap.
    The thought of drying hair in front of the Rayburn brought back such sweet memories – I always used to have mine done before church on Sunday mornings.
    I look forward to reading so many more of your wise words.
    Kindest Regards Lorna

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  11. Happy Easter Frugal Queen & Family
    Such lovely memories stirred by your post – I always used to dry my hair in front of the Rayburn before church on Sunday mornings – could smell the beautiful roast meat at the same time.
    We water as much as possible with grey water and from the butts. Our plants look great.
    I love reading your Blog so much – only found you recently.
    Enjoy the rest of this lovely sunny Easter Sunday – I am from the west country aswell, up here in beautiful Somerset.
    Kindest Regards Lorna

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  12. Spending time in a trailer makes you think about water too. We have a separate greywater tank. I am continually reaching around when TBG is working in the kitchen to turn the water off so the tank isn't always filling up.

    Now, our water is “free” but the camp pays for it and if we use too much, our lease rate will go up.

    We keep the tank closed so that there is water in it to clean the sewer pipe when we empty the black tank.

    I wish more RV manufacturers would offer a way to divert the grey tank before it goes out the same hose as the black water. I think if parks could recycle grey water it would make a big difference.

    Darlin' you were all “Green” before your time. What you're doing shows a higher conscience in more than just finances.

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  13. What memories this post brought. I am quite a bit older than you Froogs and we had a Rayburn in the kitchen, we sat in the kitchen there were two easy chairs either side of the Rayburn, we only used the front room when we had visitors. I had to sit on a hard chair at the table.

    When we moved into town to live with my Grandmother there was an Eziot boiler over the bath and Sunday night was bath night. Hair was washed over the stone sink in the kitchen, we still had well water from the garden pumped to the kitchen sink. There was an Eziot heater in the kitchen but it was only ever used on wash days. Prior to that there was a brick built copper in the kitchen, you lit the fire under it and shoved the washing into it and then used a copper stick to mash it up and down.

    The water was used to clean the kitchen floor when all the washing was done, and then poured into a watering can and watered the garden.

    My mother had the house modernised in the 1960's amd had an inset Parkray put in to heat the water in the winter, it also heated a radiator in the back bedroom. Why she did not have a radiator in the front room I will never know.

    My Grandmother had the most lovely salt and pepper hair, she used to use the water from the well and boil it in a kettle; a dessert spoon of either Daz or Omo mixed with some water in a cup to wash it with and rinsed it with water that had the blue bag dangled in it for a few minutes.

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  14. I guess I should have left my Easter greetings last night before going to bed. But it is Easter morning here and I do want to wish you a Happy Easter. I love your blog and am here everyday. I get so many good ideas. You are such a blessing!

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  15. Here in the States law prohibits any new toilet from using more that 1.6 u.s. gallons, as one commenter pointed out. We flush our (2 ) toilets once a day. We have installed low flow show heads with a lever on them to shut off while you soap up.( These cost $8 each) These save at least two minutes off each shower. I have also just had a device installed to lower the pressure of our water.
    Mulch is king here and also the choice of native drought resistant plants and shrubs. Even in our scorching summers I only water vegetables and then only the roots. I never use a hose for any watering.
    We have a mulching mower and I have only watered the grass once in the last 10 years.
    I think smart technologies conservation and thoughtful gardening practices are going be the future not the retreat to the “privy” of 100+ years ago.
    I have halved my water bill over the last two years and it has nt been that hard to do.

    Maybe the water company could come out and do an audit and check for leaks as you bill seem awfully high.

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  16. Hi Lizzie, I have no leaks but here in the south west, we pay £4.50 per cubic meter of water and that is for supply and removal combined. I couldn't use any less water. We use 10 litres each when we have a shower and we only flush our toielts with used water, we only used 19 cubic meters of water in three months, which shows that some of our quick showers used less than 10 litres. A litre is 0.26 of an American gallon, so you can see we don't use much water. My metered water bill is now down to just over £420 a year with very minimum water. I know families with children who use over £1000 of water in this area. And as for 'retreating' to the privy, I think a composting toilet is the future and all home should consider one! I am clean, my clothes are clean and my garden is watered. I have a very large water bill because the blood sucking a*******s who run South West water a money making machine who put oridinary people into water poverty when they have no choice of who they buy their water off. The answer is complete deregulisation and a freedom from a monopoly. Unlike the energy companies who are at the mercy of middle eastern intercountry relations, water is self sourcing and landowners should build their own resevoirs and water treatments and then sell it! In the mean time, I have NO choice but to take drastic action to save water as I am one of the poor beggars who can't afford it!

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  17. Well seeing as enough people here seem to be on the used grey and didn't die bus, I might just try it myself and see what happens. We only use eco friendly cleaning stuff anyway.

    Lord knows there has been scant little rain recently, and I am sure I can get it into a water butt of its own somehow. I have 4 storing about 750 litres and it runs out so quickly.

    In terms of water butts, rather than splash out on a fancy one you can often get 50 gallon plastic barrels that have only stored food produce much cheaper. A garden centre round us sells them for £10. They need a tap if you really want one but you can just dunk the can in the top. My dad always used an old oil drum that had been cleaned out. You can often pick these up for a couple of quid if you are lucky. I got two for a tenner a few years back, one of which became a compost tumbler and the second one is waiting a use. Hmm maybe a means of storing grey water!

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  18. my childhood was the same, except our washing machine was an agitator with a wringer, we dried our hair in front of an open fire. had 2 baths a week and just washed our knees and feet each night in about 2 inches of water, shared. we would sit on the edge of the bathtub. pjs were only changed once a week.
    little bit of trivia from my A and P training, children dont sweat until puberty, actually the development of sweat glands is the first sign of puberty.

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  19. Happy Easter Frugal Queen & Family
    Oh how I yearn for the good old days,you made me remember at the begining of this post.you would never see dirty veg in the shops,etc such a shame.best wishes,juliexx

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  20. I identified with a lot in this post and I can remember my grandmother being extremely thrify and frugal – she was of the 'make do and mend' generation during WW2 and carried on living in this way afterwards. I dont know much about grey water, but I do want to find out more and found this post very interesting, thank you x

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  21. I wondered how folks save their shower water! I catch the water as it's warming up, but have never tried to catch it once I'm in there. as the era of “cheap oil” makes things ever more expensive, more people will be doing what you're doing here, Froogs. thanks for sharing!

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