Grey water: what soaps are kind to our gardens?

With even stricter water restrictions around the corner, many Capetonians are recycling every drop of used household water to keep our gardens alive – whether it be shower water, rinsing water, even the water we can harvest while brushing our teeth.

But how safe is this water for our plants? We asked Hedda Inderthal – scientist, keen grey-water gardener and WRRA exco member for conservation and the environment – what soaps she found to be kind to her garden. Here are her replies.

Read more: Beat the drought: practical tips for a beautiful garden


Earthsap has a whole range of friendly detergents. For a while I used their  lavender-scented washing powder and fabric softener, but found that it doesn’t dissolve too well  and seems to build up in the dispenser drawer.

Earthsap softener and dishwashing gel

I’ve replaced it now with Bloublommetjieskloof Soapwort Laundry liquid. It’s cheaper and doesn’t have the dissolving problem. It gets more viscous over time though, but hey, it’s a natural product.

It also works well if you spot some of it on bad stains (even including dried-on dark-green chicken poo from my backyard chickens, so that’s pretty impressive!)

Bloublommetjieskloof laundry liquid


I use Nu-Eco dishwashing liquid, mixed with a little normal Pick n Pay Citrus to keep the cost down, and it works really well.

Nu_Eco dishwashing liquid


I’ve always used normal soap and shampoo with no ill effects.


Earthsap is available in supermarkets such as Pick n Pay and at Wellness Warehouse and can be ordered online from All the products above can also be ordered from, which delivers for free if the order is for more than R350 and your products arrive within a day or two.


Remember that typical fynbos plants such as ericas, buchu, etc. may not take too kindly to the grey water because they are so sensitive to phosphorus and live on nutrient-poor sand.

Read more: New level 3B water restrictions, effective from 1 February 2017


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