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Hacking your own simple laundry greywater system

In Southern California, we are dealing with water restrictions due to years of continuous drought and water shortages. Here is one way to start saving on irrigation water. Our washer is in the garage, so it is easy to run this set up out to the yard. It is working great for me and I am saving a ton of water on irrigating my ornamental plants and trees. 

I already had the trash can and a 3/4 inch garden hose, so this set up only cost me about $10 plus the cost of another 3/4 inch hose (about $30).

Make sure you only use biodegradable laundry detergent labeled for greywater use. Also, there are a few more rules for using greywater so be sure to read those at the end of this eco-diy.


• 5/8 inch spade drill bit

Garden Hose Adapter 3/4 ” MH X 1/2″ MIP- part is in the faucet section of Home Depot, not in the garden hose or irrigation area. (Watts brand A-663 GH3)

Faucet Rosette Washer and Nut (1/2″ IPS) – Danco brand

3/4″ diameter garden hose (this is the largest diameter I could find at Home Depot)

Trash can (I think mine is 20 gall, but use a larger one if you can)

STEP# 1: Cut Hole, Insert Garden Hose Adapter
Cut a hole in the bottom of the trash can using a 5/8 inch spade drill bit (I had to shave off extra to make the adapter fit)

STEP #2: Screw in the garden hose adapter (make sure the hose fitting side is on the outside of the trash can).

STEP #3 Secure adapter into hole with a Danco brand Faucet Rosette Washer and Nut (1/2″ IPS) on the inside of the trash can. (I have not sealed it with any silicone, but I have no leaks).

STEP #4: Attach a 3/4″ diameter garden hose (this is the largest size diameter hose sold at Home Depot- most hoses are 5/8″) to the end coming out of the trash can. I actually have 2 x 50 feet garden hoses (100 ft long total) connected end to end so that I can water at the far end of my backyard. Just place the end of the garden hose wherever you want to water. I move mine around as needed, but be sure you have no kinks or obstructions.

STEP #5: Catch It! 
When I start laundry, I bring my greywater trash can inside the garage and place it on top of a cooler (or cinder blocks). You want it high enough to drain well. I make sure the garden hose is on tight and then place the laundry drain pipe into the trash can. As it fills, it automatically drains to wherever I have placed the garden hose. Our back yard has only slight elevation and the trash can is above the hose line. We save over 40 gallons of water on a large load. Once made, this is a super-easy system.

STEP #6: Let it flow!


  1. Use only detergent labeled for greywater use (most grocery/market stores sell it now).
  2. Never spray greywater, it has to be applied directly to the soil. Do not use it to water vegetables. It is ok to water fruit trees, ornamental plants, trees shrubs if applied to the soil (best if applied under a layer of mulch).
  3. Never let greywater go down the storm drain. Make sure you water away from where it could ever overflow out of your yard in to the storm drain.
  4. Do not water lawns with greywater. Do not use greywater where people will come in contact with it.
  5. Make sure trash can is elevated on a cooler or cinder blocks to allow for good flow!
  6. Check for kinks/obstructions in the hose line (could cause backup).
  7. If you need to use bleach or non-greywater detergents, be sure you move the line to go back down the sewer drain.