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Monday, June 14, 2010

Greywater Soaps

What soaps and products can I use with my greywater system?
Plant friendly products are key when reusing your greywater. All products shouldbe biodegradable and non-toxic. In addition, they should be free of salt (sodium) and boron (borax), two common ingredients that are non-toxic to people but are harmful to plants and/or the soil. Chlorine bleach is also harmful to plants and should be diverted with any other harmful products to the sewer or septic by switching the 3-way valve.
Hydrogen peroxide bleaches are less harmful and can be used instead of chlorine. Another consideration with cleaning and beauty products is their affect on the pH of the water. While many soaps do not change the pH, some do. In general, liquid soaps do not change the pH, while bar soaps make the water very basic (opposite of acidic). Certain acid loving plants may not be happy with this kind of water. If you're uncertain if the pH is being affected choose plants that are not acid loving to irrigate. Acid loving plants include ferns, rhodedendrons, and blueberries.
Laundry Detergent:

Oasis Laundry Detergent (liquid), ECOS liquid detergent, and Dr. Bronners liquid soap, Ecover Chlorine free liquid, Kirkland Signature Laundry Detergent. Please note that while Trader Joe's Laundry Detergent says "greywater friendly", it does contain salts which makes it not ideal for greywater use.
There are also soap alternatives that are greywater friendly, like soap nuts, and "wonder balls".

For Sinks (dishes and hands)

Biopac All Purpose Cleaner, any natural liquid or bar soap,
BioKleen (can be found at most Henry's, People's Co-op, Windmill Farms),

Ingredients: Water, Saponified Organic Coconut & Organic Olve Oils (w/ Retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Adic, Vitamin E.
No detergents, 100% Vegan

Body Products
Read the ingredients! Visit the Cosmetic Database a project of the Environmental Working Group and enter products to see how they rate for toxicity.
Aubrey Organics is a common brand that is greywater friendly.
Avalon Shampoos and Conditioners.

Burt’s Bees Very Volumizing Pomegranate & Soy Shampoo
Ingredients: Water, decyl & lauryl glucosides (natural coconut oil, corn starch & sugar soap blend), coco betaine (coconut oil moisturizer), coco-glucoside & glyceryl oleate (natural sunflower & coconut oil soap blend), honey, soy protein, vegetable glycerine, sucrose ester (sugar moisturizer), betaine (sugar beet), glucose (sugar), fragrance, pomegranate extract, moringa seed extract, soy amino acid, xanthan gum (natural thickener), citric acid, glucose oxidase & lactoperoxidase (natural preservative)
Glycerine Bar Soaps are better than other bar soaps which are usually made with lye.

Source: http://legacyla.net/transformation/?p=270


  1. Coconut oil contains natural soothing properties which are effective in the fight against skin irritation. Coconut Oil Moisturizer for those who wish to enjoy the pure natural coconut oil.

  2. NOTE- the Trader Joe's LIQUID laundry detergent says it is greywater safe and there is no sodium on the ingredients as far as I can tell. Their powdered laundry soap DOES have sodium but does not claim to be greywater safe. May want to correct that info above

    1. Sometimes the ingredients will not be precisely spelled out. They may say something like "… surfactants" This in and of itself is not an ingredient. If you research deeper you'll find sodium at the heart of it. One place to check for some information is: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/5298-TraderJoesLiquidLaundryDetergent

  3. Hello I have noticed a trend in home-made plant enzyme cleaners. Will these work with grey-water systems? the ingredients are yeast, brown sugar lemons/oranges/fruit and water.

    I would love to hear any feedback - Thank you!

    1. those sound great. All things that will biodegrade in good soil conditions and in small quantities won't hurt your plants.

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