Ask G

Ask G: Greywater-safe stain removers

What stain removers are greywater safe?

We’ve recently put in a greywater system to reuse our greywater to irrigate the yard. I’ve been scouring the internet regarding safe laundry products and whilst I can find heaps of information regarding laundry detergents, I can’t seem to find information regarding stain removers. I’m curious to know whether Vanish NapiSan OxiAction, Vanish Preen OxiAction, and Sard Wonder Soap are safe products for our grass. And if none of these products are suitable, do you know of any stain removers that are greywater safe?
- Casey Thomas, via email.



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There’s a reason spot stain removers receive very little attention in greywater advice: we only use them occasionally and in small amounts, so they become reasonably dilute in greywater. In the bigger picture, spot-treating stains is far preferable to adding a badly soiled item to a load that needs only a light wash, setting the machine to ‘heavy soiling’ and nuking the lot with a mega-chemical cleaner. In short, the choice of approach is more important than the choice of products.

Prevention is better than cure. Old clothes for gardening, cooking with an apron, etc, means less stains to remove. It’s also useful to learn about different stains and fabrics so that you can remove them without the stain ‘setting’ and often without the need for a specialist product. For example, if I get it in time, I can usually take care of bloodstains by hand with cold water and soap. Personally, I use the Orange Power stain remover when I need one because it’s Good Environmental Choice certified, a program that looks at the whole product lifecycle.

Note that ‘oxygen’ nappy soaks and bleaches used by the bucket or in a load (as opposed to spot treatments) can harm beneficial soil bacteria and some are high in sodium. Don’t use the greywater from these products on the garden.