Adding Clothes Washer Water to Cistern

bloominmaryAugust 27, 2002

We have a cistern into which all the roof run-off empties, thanks to my husband's re-routing of all the spouting. What I'm wondering is this: I'd like to empty the clothes washer water into the same cistern. Can I do so without creating problems with bacteria build-up, and/or is there anything I can safely put into the cistern to "purify" the water and still be able to use it for the garden?

Thanks in advance for any information.


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Don't mix rainwater and "grey water" from household sources. And remember to COVER the cistern so it doesn't turn into a mosquito nursery.

Collect the washer water in a separate container and use it promptly (flowers and shrubs ONLY, not vegetables) - it gets that "dirty dish rag" smell quickly. Doesn't hurt the plants, but it's smelly. Be sure you are using plant-safe soaps.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2002 at 8:23PM
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joeb1101(z7a NC-win/slm)

I would like to know what or how your cistren is constructed...Is it above ground....Is it homemade....can you post a picture for us.....
I have thought a cistren was a "below ground" water container, like a septic tank, but for "clean" water...
I've thought about renting a backhoe & putting in a "cistren" of some type to catch my rain water from the house gutters...

See ya in the garden,
Joe B.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2002 at 7:49PM
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Hello all,I know i'm responding to an old subject, but i'm new to the forum so I ask that you be patient with me. I have a cistern that is made out of cinder block.(sorry no picture right now) It was there when we recently got the house. Some wells in the area have gone dry. I want to line it with a fish safe liner. Why? because people are drilling for new wells and blasting the rock with dynamite which keeps cracking the cistern. OK the Q: If I do this can I drink the water safely? I just started to read the forum today and think it's great. I joined rightaway. Thanks db

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 1:09PM
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Xtal(z8b Temple. TX)


You might want to check into growing a Soapberry tree. I've done some considerable homework on it since I'll be giving a talk before our local Master Gardeners monthly meeting on the benefits. The casings from 5 seeds put into a muslin bag actually does 2 washer loads.

I've started some seeds and plan to sell the plant. Sapindus Drummondii has a wide range. But, look for the variety that grows in your area. There is one.

But, also do your homework. Look up Soap Nuts, Soapberries, etc. You'll be glad you did. Regular laundry detergent puts phosphates back into our water system and rivers. The Gulf of Mexico has a dead zone that is incredibly huge due to this and all the run off from any number of chemicals used or dumped. What are we doing to ourselves?

In my backyard, I'd be using Soapberries if I had a cistern. You'll be surprised at how well they work. But, it will be difficult finding them on the web. Be diligent and you'll be rewarded.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 9:38AM
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