Anyone using grey water for fruit trees?

I am thinking about installing a “laundry to landscape” system for some of the fruit trees since it doesn’t require a permit. Has anyone used these? There’s a little conflicting information on which trees tolerate but so far it looks like citrus, loquat and passionfruit would do okay. I’d especially love if anyone has insights on how Chilean guava, longan and cherry of the rio grande might do. I would switch to laundry detergent restricted in salts. Our soil is very clay so thinking about options to route in different directions to avoid water logging.


If it’s clay you’ll probably want a drip system, and also you’ll need a good filter to keep out the fabric and debris. I have watered veggies and tomatos w/ grey water from laundry for a couple years — no real ill effects. One thing to keep in mind is that the detergent that you can use for this purpose doesn’t really clean your clothes all that well. I.e. your bright whites are never bright again.

Because there’s no phosphorus in the detergent.

This is the detergent a friend recommended. She only grows ornamentals but said the detergent hasn’t hurt them and it got great reviews online. I’ll definitely plan to try the detergent first before I make the whole switch.

Some people around here are making laundry detergent from scratch
“1/3 bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap, grated
6 cups water
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax”

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Borax in the homemade laundry detergent = boron. You might read this . Good in small quantities and bad in large quantities.

weve used ecos for several years. great product and you can get it at most costcos.

I use those ingredients,but mix them dry,about a tablespoon of each with a load of clothes and add some Oxyclean.
I didn’t like storing the liquid stuff. Brady

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Great post. We installed greywater “Laundry to Landscape” this year, and majority of my fruit trees were watered only with it. Much more green growth than prior years as we’re watering a bit more, and ornamentals around these trees are lovin’ it. We did hands-on training in San Diego and it was BIG help… oh, and city of SD is now doing rebates on greywater! A few pics:
Greywater.  Our laundry to landscape greywater system completely irrigates our 10 fruit trees.    The pictures clockwise: closeup of laundry 3-way valve with signage, connection over trellis to surge...
Greywater irrigation.  The Laundry to Landscape irrigation started with removing the existing drip irrigation.  Then under each of the 10 fruit trees, I installed a "mulch basin" which is an inverted...


As for laundry soap, we too have been using Ecos, as Mickster. We switched soap a year ahead to 1) verify the stuff worked to our satisfaction, and 2) we did not get any alergic reaction. Works great and no reaction. Thank you wife for this great idea. Ecos we buy at Vons/Sprouts.

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Here is an article I published last year on the subject.

guide-washer-water.pdf (2.0 MB)


When i started looking into using grey water for my citrus trees, I looked for detergents that had little or no sodium in them. The only one I found with no sodium was OASIS, but it’s fairly expensive and I haven’t tried it yet. I found a Whole Foods Organic Laundry Detergent (3x) that has several sodium named items that are further down the list of ingredients(and hopefully in smaller quantities) and the main ingredients are soap nuts and saponified coconut oil. I’ve been using this for normal washing and so far the citrus trees seem to be unaffected. I use regular scent free detergent for really dirty clothes and that(and shower water) grey water goes to a small plot of kikuyo grass and butterfly ginger…which seem to flourish with it.

Richard, that’s a interesting article you linked to. I hadn’t given much thought to alkalinity and dissolved mineral content. I occasionally use ammonium sulfate on the citrus so that might balance out the alkalinity of the grey water. And have you tried adding nitrogen fertilizer to your wash? How does that work?

In doing so, you will cause the alkaline minerals to precipitate.

I know someone who does. However, as I pointed out in the article I don’t think irrigating with washwater is economically viable for anyone.

Would it make much difference if the alkaline minerals remained in solution?

More of them will remain bound with phosphates.

Here is a video I made of my DIY grey water system. We use Soap Nuts which can be bought on Amazon. They work well for cleaning the clothes that are just worn/sweaty. Anything with a stain I switch the valve down to the sewer and use regular detergent.

My two limes, banana, and guava love getting the 8-10 gallons at once and the guava really took off once I started the grey water to it.


I assumed soap “softened” the water (i have hard water)? We get enough rain here that I’ve never had to use grey water, but i could see doing it if we had a dry spell. I’d just run my washing machine hose into a garbage can, then use a utility pump to move it outside. I think i did a test once and figured a load of laundry was around 30 gallons total.


A lot of variation on gallons depending on the machine. The new high efficiency top loaders use a lot less.

Before I set up my system I would just pull the hose out and attach a longer hose to it, that got me to only one plant though…