Don’t Throw Out the Baby OR the Bath Water: Recycling Gray Water

Every time I pull the plug on Roscoe’s bath, it pains me to watch several gallons of relatively clean water vanish down the drain.  Perhaps this angst is inherited from my resourceful mother, who always transferred our bathwater to the washing machine for a load of laundry after we were tucked into bed.  She currently keeps a bucket in her shower at all times to capture water for use in her garden but she wishes that there was a better solution for all that gray water waste. 

Thanks to Brac Systems, an innovative Canadian company, there is!  They have designed a grey water recovery system that filters bathwater and redirects it for use in toilets.  The entire system costs just a few thousand dollars (plus installation) but Brac claims that the system could save people up to 40% of their water bill costs.  It’s possible to redirect the water for landscaping use as well and to use the system to harvest rainwater. 

Since my life is too complicated for a new Brac System at this time, I’ve turned to simpler solutions for saving bath water in the short run. 

  • We wash Roscoe’s cloth diaper covers in his leftover bath water. 
  • I sometimes soak my toes in his tub, getting a mini-pedicure while he plays.
  • Roscoe uses his bathwater as a beverage.  (Gross I know!  We’re working on this.)
  • A few nights a week, Roscoe showers with daddy to save water and time.
  • Rebecca opts for weekly baths for her toddler, saving at least 120 gallons of water a week by forgoing a daily tub time.
  • Some people use leftover bath water to flush toilets.  They leave a bucket in the bathroom, scoop up some leftover bath water and pour it into the toilet, activating the flush mechanism.    

Roscoe accrues enough grime in a day to truly create his own gray water.  Someday it shall all end up watering our petunias or supplying our toilets.  Until then, we shall dutifully do our best to make it a darker shade of gray before it goes down the drain.  For a huge list of simple tips that just might make your Wednesday a little easier, go to Rocks In My Dryer.  



  1. Good ideas. Thought I am not sure about the drinking it one! 🙂 That system of sending from the tub to the toilet would be really neat.
    We don’t have to worry about water a lot as we have our own well (so the only cost involved it the electricity to pump it) and we live in an area where there is no water shortage but still I like to use what we have wisely.
    Somethings we do is that 2 or 3 of my kids will have a bath together and we don’t have a ton of water in the tub either. Also the kids only have baths 3 times a week unless they have been playing in the mud or something else to make them quite dirty.
    I have in the past used bath water to water my many houseplants but have rather gotten out of the habit lately ~ I will have to work on that again.
    I just posted yesterday about taking your plants in the shower with you to clean them (and water them) as I clean me for no extra water.
    My sister also at one time had a bucket in her shower and used the water in her washing machine.

  2. Those are great ideas! I think that I will get a small managable bucket next time I go to the store and scoop much of the bath water to water my gardens and lawns. We use to just not water them rather than waste more water. In our house though we have three children and we only bathe them once a week unless otherwise needed(since they are younger and don’t sweat and such). But we also bathe at least two of the three children in the same water, one right after another. Then the baby gets his bath usually just after my husband or I take one, using the same water. Thanks for the great ideas.

  3. Since the only way I can get out of the house on time in the morning is to take a bath at night after my son goes to sleep, I just add my bath water to his for my bath. As a bonus, I get to re-use his Mustela milky bath oil to make my skin soft too! (Due to the bath oil, I’m not sure I should use that water on my plants, though I’m sure it would be fine for flushing the toilet.)

    When you re-use bath water in your washing machine, do you just set the load size for a smaller load?

  4. Wow on your mom putting the bath water in the washing machine! That’s dedication!

  5. Does anyone know the answer to Larisa’s question? Since I have a front loading washing machine, I’m not sure if you set a top loader to a smaller load size when dumping in bath water. Unfortunately my mom (the expert on this and many other things) is out of town now or I would ask her. Help!

  6. On most top-loaders you can set the dial for any stage of the wash–so you can skip right past the “fill up with water” phase and start the agitation cycle. If you filled the washer with enough water for a load, that’s all you’d have to do. If you just had a couple gallons in there, you’d set the machine for a smaller load size. Or you could actually watch the machine fill up and switch it over to the agitation cycle once it had enough water.

    By the way, a shallow bath contains about 20 gallons of water. If you could trudge all of that from the bath to the laundry, you could probably wash a full load with it! (A typical top-loader uses 40 gallons of water a wash–so I’m assuming about twenty gallons of water would be used for the initial wash cycle.)

    I don’t think this technique would work at all with a front loader. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong about any of this stuff–it’s just conjecture. Joy’s mom should chime in with the real answers soon!

  7. Saving the bath water or cutting back on my kids bath just is one thing I haven’t done or tried. We use less water and two kids bath at once. I love the pedicure and soaking idea. Bath is our nightly routine and both kids love it. Showers take longer because my son loves to play in the shower. The system sounds wonderful though.Maybe someday!

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