What Is Greywater?

by Team eLocal
Residential water pipe break and repair with white tape.

Every home creates greywater through regular daily activities. Recycling greywater is an eco-friendly option, but it's important to understand how to use it safely.

What Is Greywater?

Greywater describes most of the wastewater that comes from your home — other than the water from your toilet. It's used water that's relatively clean, but it still contains contaminants like hair, dirt, soap, cleaning chemicals and food. Greywater includes the water that drains from your tubs, showers, dishwasher and washing machine.

What Is a Greywater System?

Greywater often looks dirty since it's typically used to clean things, but you can actually reuse it for certain tasks around your house. Normally, greywater goes into the sewer system like water from your toilet. A greywater system collects and filters the water that comes from your tub and washing machine so you can use it in other areas. The most common use for greywater is for irrigation, although chemicals in the water or excessive salt from detergents can damage some plants. Greywater isn't safe for human consumption, and it shouldn't be used on the edible part of plants.

You can collect greywater manually with a bucket or install a greywater system. A simple option is draining your laundry to an outdoor irrigation system. You can also have a more extensive system installed that connects to all of your home's plumbing and directs greywater to a collection tank. Water that isn't used within 24 hours of being collected needs to be treated using chlorine or iodine.

What's the Difference Between Greywater and Blackwater?

Blackwater and greywater are both types of wastewaters. However, black water has higher levels of contaminants. It's the water that comes from your toilets and can contain urine and fecal matter, which may include bacteria and disease that can make you sick if you use it for any purpose. It should not be collected and should instead go into the sewer system to be treated at your water treatment plant.

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