Greywater facts & tips

Greywater is often overlooked as a potential source of useful water. When greywater systems are combined with rainwater harvesting tanks, a household or business can, in some cases, become virtually water self-sufficient. Here are a few facts and tips about grey water.

greywater tanks
Greywater is wastewater from a range of sources including your bath, bathroom basin, laundry and shower. It doesn’t include blackwater such as wastewater from toilets.

A greywater system enables you to re-use greywater from your home. The average household can re-use around 1,500 litres of greywater each week.

There are simple and complex systems, but they all involve reusing water that would otherwise be lost. Some systems involve storing the water and treating it to remove impurities.

There are three ways that greywater can be used:

  • Manual bucketing. Collect water from your shower or washing machine in a bucket and use it on the garden. You won’t need council permission to do this.
  • Diversion and filtration devices. Divert greywater to your garden or lawn with a system that uses plumbing and/or hoses to take the greywater outside. Some systems may use a filter and pump and a water tank. In some states and territories you may only be able to use untreated greywater for sub-surface irrigation. Check with the relevant government department or your local council for licensed devices and approvals.
  • Treatment and re-use systems. These systems treat water to a standard fit for household use. This water can be used for toilet flushing, washing clothes and above-ground irrigation. Requires local council approval (depending on where in the world you are).

Greywater Do’s and Don’ts


  • Wash your hands after watering with greywater
  • Use garden-friendly cleaning products that are biodegradable and are free from or low in sodium and phosphorous
  • Pipe greywater underground or under mulch to water your garden
  • Irrigate your ornamentals and orchards, making sure greywater is not in direct contact with fruit
  • Regularly check your greywater system is working properly
  • Divert greywater to the sewer during wet periods
  • Stop using greywater if someone in the household is sick
  • Check your state and local regulations
  • Use a licensed plumber to install your system
  • Avoid clogged soil by using a coarse filter to reduce the amount of solids in your greywater
  • Make sure you contain greywater within your property


  • Store untreated greywater in water tanks or other storage containers for more than 24 hours
  • Use greywater to water vegetables and herbs that are to be eaten raw or partly cooked
  • Use greywater sourced from washing nappies or soiled clothes
  • Use greywater that has disinfectants and bleaches in it
  • Use greywater from kitchens, unless it has been treated
  • Use greywater that is still hot as it will kill beneficial organisms in the soil
  • Spray or hose greywater
  • Allow pets to drink greywater.

Source: LivingGreener (edited)

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