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Watering Plants With Dryer Water: Is It Safe?

Even though around 71% of Earth is made up of water, only 3% of it is fresh water. We should always aim to save water where we can, whether by reducing our usage or by recycling water. Collected dryer water may seem like a good way of reusing water, but it is not as pure as you think.

Let’s investigate what dryer water consists of and which plants would thrive with this water and which wouldn’t.


It is safe to use dryer water on plants that are already established, planted directly in the ground, and can handle acidic soil really well. Seedlings and newly sprouting plants, as well as plants that are edible, potted, or that like alkaline soil, should not be watered with dryer water.

What Is in Dryer Water?

The exact concoction that makes up dryer water depends on the type, model, and age of your dryer, as well as the detergents used on your clothes during washing.

Unlike other dryers, condenser dryers collect the water removed from drying clothes. As the water condenses, it collects at the bottom of the dryer to be expelled (manually or through a drainpipe).  Most detergents may still be present in the water collected as well as pieces of lint that accumulate over time.

If you use a fabric conditioner, its concentration is usually much higher than the concentration of a detergent. There is a chance of residue build-up, which can end up in dryer water.

Dust particles and lint can also collect in the dryer water. Regular cleaning of the collection tank can help to reduce the number of particulates in the water but it cannot prevent them entirely.

Dryer water also isn’t the most nutritious version of water for plant consumption. Normal water contains important minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, on which plants thrive. However, dryer water becomes roughly distilled through evaporation and subsequent condensation making it free of minerals and more acidic.

Some Plants Will Accept Dryer Water (Others Won’t)

Dryer water is safer than washer water when it comes to using it on plants. However, it is necessary to understand that each plant is different and has varying needs for its growth.

It will be worthwhile to get to know the physiology of your plants and make sure they are thriving before you start watering them with dryer water.

Plants for Which Dryer Water Is Likely Safe

It is safe to use dryer water on already established trees and shrubs as opposed to new seedlings. During the early stages of a seedling, it will need all the nutrients and minerals it can get to grow to its full potential.

An established plant will not be as vulnerable and as dependent on receiving those vital minerals. Using dryer water can merely aid in a plant’s survival but not necessarily its growth.

The lack of minerals present in dryer water also suggests that you should only use it on plants that are rooted directly in the ground and not the potted ones.

plants that are rooted directly in the ground

Plants in the ground are more likely to obtain the nutrients and minerals from the nutrient-rich soil and rain if they cannot obtain them from the water supply you provide to them.

It is still safe to use dryer water on plants that thrive in acidic soil, such as but not limited to Evergreens, Hydrangeas, Azaleas, or Heathers. Since dryer water can be slightly more acidic than tap water, using it on these plants will be safe as they are used to acidic conditions.

However, you must ensure that the soil doesn’t become too acidic (pH is less than 5), and you can do this by testing your own soil at home.

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Hardy plant species like Holly, Foxglove, Chamomile and Red clover are able to grow in the face of adversity. They can withstand different conditions and environments and would still grow when watering conditions are unfavorable.

Plants That Shouldn’t Be Watered With Dryer Water

Plants with fleshy parts, such as most succulents, are usually found in areas with little to no water. Thus, water is then stored in the plants’ leaves and stems. If water that contains traces of detergents is used, it may damage the plant.

Many plants are edible. However, you should avoid watering plants that you are planning to eat with dryer water as dryer water is not safe for consumption. Fleshy plants that take up large amounts of water such as fruits are particularly affected. Otherwise, you may end up ingesting contaminants from fabrics, detergents, and fabric conditioners.

avoid watering plants that you are planning to eat

Watering potted plants is also not advisable. As mentioned, it would be best to use dryer water on plants rooted in the ground. Potted plant roots have restricted root zones and depend on you to provide the necessary nutrients that are needed for growth.

With its lack of minerals, dryer water won’t be sufficient for plants that can’t spread out their roots to search for more nutrients.

The acidity of dryer water will also harm plants that thrive in alkaline soil (soil with a pH of more than 7). If the soil becomes too acidic for them (pH less than 7), the plants’ roots may not be able to take up nutrients from the soil as efficiently.

Seedlings are extremely vulnerable and need to be treated with the utmost care as they need an ample amount of nutrients to reach maximum growth. Using dryer water that has no minerals would not allow for this.

Delicate plants such as Orchids, Maidenhair Ferns, and Venus Flytraps are sensitive and do not handle unfavorable conditions well enough to keep growing if you water them with dryer water.

Tips for Using Dryer Water for Watering

When using dryer water, you might want to filter the water first to remove or reduce the contaminants such as lint from the water. This method doesn’t need to be costly, as you can make your own filter at home using natural components. Filtered water will be more suitable for your plants.

You can also test your water acidity levels before using it. To do so, you can use simple pH strips (amazon link).

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It is advised not to store your dryer water in its containers. Best clean your condensing tray as regularly as possible and use the water as you collect it, so it’s “fresh” when you use it.

Try and mix dryer water (that has little to no minerals) with tap water (that has minerals) for your plants, so they don’t constantly get watered only with distilled water. Switch it up once in a while and keep an eye on your plants and how they react to this type of water.

There are other uses for recycled dryer water that may be better options than watering your plants.

Sources

https://flourishingplants.com/acidic-water-for-plants/

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2019/03/hardy-plants/

https://gardeningmentor.com/do-plants-grow-better-in-pots-or-in-the-ground/#:~:text=Plants%20grow%20better%20in%20the,or%20lack%20of%20growing%20space.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu2qVNiG300

https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2015-11/documents/2005_09_14_faq_fs_healthseries_bottledwater.pdf

https://morningchores.com/acid-loving-plants/

https://www.jstor.org/stable/2990114?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1495189/

https://www.cda.eu/laundry/condenser-vs-vented/

https://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/techtalk/what-is-a-condenser-tumble-dryer/

https://www.rhs.org.uk/garden-jobs/water-using-softened-and-other-types

https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/water-acids-and-bases/acids-bases-and-ph/a/acids-bases-ph-and-bufffers

https://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/fertilization_householdwastewater.pdf

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