Recycling water in the home

Recycling Water
Recycling Water

Recycling in the home is one of my passions, so before disposing of anything from egg boxes and string to plastic bottles and containers I now ask myself “How can I reuse this item – either in its current form or in an alternative way?” It’s amazing how creative one can be!

Recycling and conserving water is my latest crusade.

Saving the planet aside, it’s surprising when you focus the mind just how much water you can actually recycle.

5 ways we recycle water

1. Recycle the backwash from the pool. At least 250 litres every 1-2 weeks. (Update: this is a chlorine pool, not salt water)

2. Run the first 5L of cold water from the hot water tap into a container. In our household we usually run off about 5L of water before the water is hot. This saves around 30L per week.

3. Recycle bath water to use on established trees and bushes (I only use natural soaps) 250L minimum per week.

4. Recycle water from washing vegetables prior to cooking. I use this on my herb garden 30L per week.

5. Recycle water from the dehumidifiers to water plants. These produce at least 10L per week!

I’d always recycled tap water, but recently while on a cost cutting and recycling mission it suddenly occurred to me, like a light bulb moment, that the backwash from the swimming pool could possibly be recycled to water my plants.

Research on the net revealed that when backwash is stored in a plastic storage tank or bottles the chlorine levels dissipate over a few days. We bottled and tested the backwash and no sign of any chlorine!

How do you recycle water?

Check out the “The National Geographic” Water Conservation Tips

This topic was inspired by Jake’s Sunday Post. This week’s theme is H20

49 thoughts on “Recycling water in the home

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  1. Here is my notice to my blog friends that I’ve missed over the last 2 months: I apologize for being AWOL for so long…. It now makes sense to me about how important it is to grow gradually. I was receiving 3000-5000 emails and it was a nightmare to respond to all in a timely fashion; even with a system in place. Finally, I had to shut off notifications and clear the deck and get back to a more manageable number… I learned a lot from the experience too — about human nature. Be blessed and thanks for your patience. 🙂


    1. Hey Eliz, no problem! Lots of bloggers come and go, but there are a bunch of us who are still around. We can’t always comment on every post due to time restraints. 🙂 but we get there. Don’t beat yourself up about it!


    1. Hi,
      Oh no, you can’t use the backwash as far as I know from a salt water pool. Salt will kill the plants. This is one of the problems we have living so near the Atlantic. The sea mists are salty and many plants and veg don’tlike it.
      Our pool is chlorine, but we keep the levels really low so by the time we backwash the level of Chlorine is minimal. I then put the water in plastic bottles and leave in the sun. I test the water in a couple of these bottles after a couple of days and they are usually completely clear.


  2. Hi, great post. One question a little bit out of the subject, but since you live in south Portugal and have environmental concerns, do you have solar panels? What do you think of it?


    1. Hi Fernanda, good questions! We researched the cost of solar panels, life- span, usage v return on investment. Our conclusion they were not worth the outlay. In the winter when we wanted hot water, we could not garauntee the sun so we would still need to use gas (we use bottles). In the summer, we don’t use as much hot water as baths and showers are cooler.
      We live very close to the ocean, and to be honest due to the salt air, may things go rusty when left outside. We were not convinced this would not affect the solar panels.

      So for what we saved we decided the outlay was not worth it. Plus you still needed a pump, which used electricilty to pump the water so all in all for small domestic use I’m not 100% convinced

      I know there are schemes where you can sell spare capacity back to EDP, but to be honest the size of the solar panels required would not look right and take up half our garden. OK if you have lots of land and money 🙂

      Overall, we try to be frugal in our usage of gas, water and electricity.

      What are your thoughts on solar panels?


      1. There are 2 kinds of solar panel systems, ones for heating water and others for electricity production. You only need to have them both if you go for electricity production. Do you have a roof facing south? I have mine on the roof no need to add any pomps even when filling up the water tank. It’s surprisingly efective even with grey sky.


        1. Hi Fernanda, yes our roof is south facing. Many of our friends have solar panels, but to be honest when we anylzed the costs the figures just did not add up. I’m frugal with both Electricity and gaz. Our water is heated by gaz as and when we need it. When the panels come down in price we will review again. But there is still this concen about the salt air rusting EVERYTHING! Even so say stainless steel 🙂

          Some friends have huge panels which not only heat the water but also heat the house in the winter and the pool in the summer it’s brilliant, but the smae system when we looked was 15,000-20,000 so it is a “want” not a “need”. Since retiring I’ve learned to value the difference 🙂 LOL


      1. Last year my town began curb-side recycling. I put out all of my paper/cardboard, glass, some plastic, & milk jugs. And I bring my water containers to a machine to fill them once or twice a week. I do wonder just what they do with the recylcing…do they really “recycle” it? or do they provide the service due to community demands?


        1. Hi Tyco, I often wonder what the powers that be do with all the recycled stuff! It would be interesting to follow the “cycle” so to speak and ask them. I can’t in Portugal due to language difficulties


  3. Interesting stuff. Do water companies in Portugal use water meters? Someone in our house keeps leaving the tap on in the downstairs toilet, just a trickle, but it has to add up to around a dozen litres every day at least. Drives me insane thinking of that little meter in the street merrily ticking away, penny’s and pounds down the drain.


        1. the tank we bought was 220L, We are right by the Atlantic Ocean so we have some VERY strong winds! Your tank is probably the far bigger version reininforced with metal struts. We ahve nowhere to put something that size plus, they are VERY expensive


          1. Yes ours are 1500 litre each, at our holiday home we have two 5000 litre tanks which we depend on for drinking water and it is incredible how quickly they fill up when rains. Makes one realise how much rain water just goes to waste.


  4. What an interesting find, thank you for visiting my blog. I need to come back and explore further. I am not really a gardener but the photos, recipes and info about Portugal will be a must from now on. Now to take a look at the food blog….


  5. Great post with some excellent, thoughtful ideas. (Sadly, I don’t have a pool…so that particular one’s no use to me. But I can dream!) I have to say I get an inordinate amount of satisfaction from small gestures such as recycling and reusing and composting. It’s the little things in life… 🙂


    1. I’d love to do this and we discussed ways of reusing the water from our washing machine, but without investing a bit of money as the levels were all wrong it was not feasible.
      Waht ideas do you have re using the gray water?


  6. You are a top re-cycler of water Carole – good for you and thanks for the extra tips!
    As Sami said, we have 2 Council bins here in Oz – one for ordinary household rubbish and the other re-cycling bin for tins, plastic containers and paper. I’ve always been conscious about re-cycling anyway.
    We have water restrictions here also, so I re-use as much water as I can in the ways you mention – but you put me to shame and made me realize that I can do more!
    If we all do our bit, we will make a difference!


  7. I started recycling when we lived in Germany 26 years ago (it was compulsory), then I just got into the habit wherever I lived to do it. In Australia we have 2 council bins in each house, one for normal rubbish and one for paper, tins, plastic…anything recyclable. I also try to keep water I wash vegetables in to water pot plants and put a bucket under shower to get the first water until it heats up, for the garden. We have water restrictions in Australia anyway, so hopefully everyone does their bit.


    1. Hi Sami,
      As we left the UK they had just started using different bins. The problem was they only emptied your household craps once a fortnight and if you happened to be away, they could sit there for a month stinking. I bulked at the idea of recycling in England as they used to send round great big lorries, which were expensive to run, to empty twee little boxes. If anything was not in the box, they would not take it. derrrr
      In Portugal I got into the habit of recycling stuff in the home to originally save money then it became a mission. We don’t have bin men here but it’s amazing how many people take bottles and per to the recyling bins.

      REcycling is a great idea 🙂


  8. Hi Piglet!! You probably don’t remember me?! But I used to be When in the country?? I’ve moved! So now it’s When in the city!! haha…and we also recycle!!! We actually rinse out the cans, and have a seperate trash can for recycles!! Hope you’re doing good!! Check out my blog when you get a chance?? Is Barb still blogging about pets??


    1. Hi Stephanie,
      Of course I remember you! You kept deleting your blogs and I could never find them. 🙂 Anyway, what do you think of city life? We are all still around except Classy Rose and Papa Jo.

      I recycle bottles, but to be honest I rarely use tins when I come to think of it.
      Why tins in particular?


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