You can drain your washing machine water outside in most states as long as the drain runs to an underground greywater dispersal system or an irrigation system. However, the precise laws about draining washing machine water depends on your local jurisdiction. So, you should check local building code before attempting to drain a washing machine outdoors.
In no case is it legal or acceptable to dump washing machine water aboveground or drain it into the same drain as rainwater. Dumping greywater directly onto the ground can cause flooding in your yard. It can also erode the soil around your foundation or leak into your home.
Table of Contents
Is it Legal to Drain a Washing Machine Outside?
If you use a proper drainage system, it is legal to drain your washing machine outside in many areas. Proper drainage systems include dry wells for greywater dispersal, as well as linking your washing machine drain hose to an irrigation system. Installing these systems requires professional knowledge of drainage and irrigation, so they are best installed by an experienced contractor.
- In many places, it is legal to drain washing machine water outside through a greywater dispersal system or for use in irrigation.
- In some areas, it is completely illegal to drain washing machine water outdoors.
- Contact your county clerk for information on how to drain your washing machine outside legally.
Some regions restrict or prohibit all outdoor greywater drainage. Before you begin work on any outdoor washing machine drainage system, check your local building code. Constructing a washing machine drain may require a building permit. Contact your county clerk’s office for information on which drainage systems are legal in your area.
Can You Drain a Washing Machine into a Rainwater Drain?
Never drain your washing machine into a rainwater drain, storm drain, gutter, body of water, or directly onto the surface of your lawn. In almost all cases, these methods are illegal and can be punished severely. Washing machine water is greywater, which must be treated differently than rainwater. Additionally, treating washing machine water like rainwater can be harmful to the environment and puts an unnecessary toll on drainage systems, which may lead to flooding.
- It is illegal to drain washing machine greywater into rainwater drains in almost every region.
- Draining washing machine water directly onto the ground is almost always illegal.
- Improper drainage of washing machines can harm the environment and your property.
Do not drain washing machine water onto the ground outside your home. The large amounts of water discharged by washing machines lead to standing pools of water that drown plants, provide a place for insects to breed, and may leak into your basement or foundation. Properly draining greywater from your washer requires you to use one of these washing machine drainage options.
How Do You Drain a Washing Machine Outside?
The simplest and most common way to drain a washing machine outside is by running the washing machine drain to an underground dry well. A dry well is a specially built dispersal system that collects the water your washing machine drains. Then, the water gradually percolates into the soil. A properly built dry well is constructed at least 10 feet (3 meters) from your home’s foundation and will be invisible after it is installed and grass has grown over it.
- An underground dry well is the simplest way to drain washing machine water outdoors.
- Dry wells are completely invisible and allow greywater to filter back into the soil safely.
- To reuse your washing machine water, link it to an irrigation system for your lawn or garden.
Because greywater can be used for irrigation in some areas, you may be able to drain your washing machine to an irrigation system. This installation is more complex than having a dry well installed. However, it allows you to reuse water for your lawn and garden, so it is a great money-saver.
Is Laundry Water Good for Grass and Gardens?
As long as your washing machine water contains no harmful chemicals, fecal matter, high-sodium detergent, or bleach, it is great for watering plants. Gentle detergents will not damage grass or garden plants. Fruits and vegetables grown from this water are just as safe and healthy for you as plants grown from fresh water.
- Laundry water can be very good for irrigating your lawn and garden.
- If you are reusing washing machine water for irrigation, do not use high-sodium detergent or bleach.
- This gentle detergent is great for greywater that will be used for irrigation.
- Never wash items with chemicals or fecal matter on them in a washing machine that drains to your garden.
- Greywater that contains chemicals, feces, harsh detergent, or bleach can be deadly to plants and unsafe for humans.
If your washing machine may drain water that contains chemicals (such as petroleum, paint, or grease), feces (such as from reusable diapers), high-sodium detergents, or bleach, it can destroy your grass and garden plants. Draining washing machine water with these substances anywhere outside is potentially harmful to your family and the environment. So, if you plan to reuse your washing machine water for irrigation, you must take precautions with what you wash and how you wash it.
Can You Dump Washing Machine Water Outside?
When considering whether or not to dump washing machine water outside, keep these facts in mind:
- Never dump washing machine water aboveground, into a rainwater drain, or into a body of water.
- Improper dumping of washing machine water is illegal and may be punishable by law.
- In some areas, it is legal to disperse washing machine water belowground or for use in irrigation.
- A dry well or irrigation system is the best way to drain washing machine water outdoors.
- Check with your county clerk before installing an outdoor drain—it may be illegal in your area.
- Washing machine water is safe for use in irrigation as long as it contains no bleach, feces, harsh detergents, or chemicals.
Draining washing machine water outdoors can be very useful, since it reduces the strain on septic systems and can provide water for your plants. However, it’s essential to drain greywater properly, to benefit you without causing harm to your property.