Because of the drought, I don't want to use the hose to provide moisture to my garden. In the past, I totally got rid of grass and just started planting drought friendly plants. (except for my Myer lemon tree) Keeping a grass lawn takes a lot of water to keep it green all year in California. And what a waste of money paying someone to mow it regularly! Certainly with a yard full of grass during a drought, there is no green. Ugly! This year the drought is severe. So, I chose to just let the garden go. Live and let live... the plants that survive will be fine. The plants that need water will die.
One might ask... well why don't I hire a plumber? Simple... I have very little money. I have someone in my life who volunteered to run a "snake" tool into the plumbing, but because of back surgery, that got put off.
I thought about when I was a young mother and had an old fashioned wringer washer. Just like washers today there was a large pipe connected to it that would be able to drain into the plumbing. However, back in those days, I could lay that hose down and let it drain out the back door into the back yard. Wringer washers had legs and rollers on them. As I thought about that, I realized I could do the same today with my modern washing machine. The only problem with it was the pipe on the back of the washer wasn't long enough to get it out the back door and of course, the washer is wieldy. That's when my friend connected a garden hose to that pipe. We ran it out beside where the dryer vent passed through the wall. Today the garden hose leads out to the front yard garden.
When thinking of laundry water going into the soil, I wanted to make sure that any detergent I might use would be friendly to plant life and the soil. Obviously big brand detergents are not a wise choice. I've learned that the various so-called detergents, even ones marked “biodegradable”, are not always appropriate for the soil because they are essentially salt-based. And salt is BAD for the soil. Surprisingly, even Seventh Generation brand laundry detergent is NOT a good choice according to the research I did.
Now that I've been washing my clothes this way (in cold water) I've tried using less detergent. It's amazing how soft my clothes have become. I'm glad I made the switch.
With a little research, I came across this list of safe laundry detergents for grey water use:
Oasis laundry liquid
Bio Pac Laundry Liquid
Biokleen Laundry Liquid
LifeTree Laundry Liquid
Ecover Laundry Wash (some salt)
Mountain Green Laundry Detergent
Here is a list of ingredients to avoid in grey water:
boron/borax (toxic to plants)
sodium and ingredients with the word "sodium" in them
chlorine bleach (acceptable alternative: hydrogen peroxide)
water softeners (contain sodium chloride or potassium chloride)
anti-bacterial soaps & cleaners
enzymes (enzymes in biological washing powders break down protein or fat stains on clothes)
artificial colors; FD&C colors
NOTE: Most "popular" detergents do not even have their ingredients listed.