Is bathwater safe for your plants, or should you skip this sustainable approach? Experts weigh in

The long-debated Question — is bathwater safe for your plants — goes beyond a simple yes or no

Houseplants in a bathtub with a blue tile wall in the background
(Image credit: Getty Images/saulgranda)

Is bathwater safe for your plants? Gardeners have long debated the question, but the answer isn't strictly black or white.

When dealing with hydrating your greenery, using bath water seems sustainable, so we've asked our plant and gardening experts if it will harm your plants, whether it's suitable and how you can utilize this source of H2O.

If you're looking for ways to improve the quality of your brilliant indoor plants, here's what to know about this practice. 

Is bathwater safe for your plants?

So, is bathwater safe for your plants, or is this considered one of the worst houseplant mistakes you can make?

"Reusing bathwater, or greywater, for garden and some houseplants is a sustainable practice that can significantly save water," says Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal.

Not only is this a good way to stay green (get it?), but the water itself can be beneficial when hydrating house plants, perennial plants, shrubs, and trees, according to expert gardener, Lucie Bradley of Two Wests & Elliott.

"You will find some greywater which will boost plant growth because of its nutrients," she says. "Nutrients are due to organic matter in the water, such as skin cells, nitrogen, and phosphorus, which is used in many soaps — and co-incidentally is used in many fertilizers.” 

However, there are caveats to this practice, whether you're gardening in an apartment or mapping out small garden ideas.

"It's essential to ensure the water doesn't contain harsh chemicals, dyes, or heavy soaps which can be detrimental to plant health," Gene adds. "Indoor plants are generally more sensitive, and the potential buildup of salts and chemicals from greywater could lead to negative effects."

When caring for houseplants or your outdoor garden, you might be wondering what type of bathwater is suitable for giving your plant babies a sip.

"If you use mild, natural soaps, this shouldn’t be a problem," Lucie says. "However, if you are using any products in your bath that contain salt, boron or chlorine bleach, then your used bathwater could have a detrimental effect on your plants."

Jamie Mitri, the founder of Moss Pure, recommends skipping the process entirely and refilling your watering can with fresh H20. The Homarden 40oz. Copper-Colored Indoor Plant Watering Can on Amazon is a bestseller, if you're in the market for a new one.

"From my 20 years' experience, I would not recommend watering plants with bath water on a regular or frequent basis," she says. "The chemicals in soap and shampoo such as oils, carbon containing chemicals, and preservatives can damage a plant's leaves, roots, and soil."

It turns out the answer is both, yes and no, depending on which types of shampoos and soaps you use in the bath. Be mindful of what's in the water before letting your pothos, snake plants and other low-maintenance houseplants take a gulp.

Gene Caballero
Gene Caballero

Gene Caballero is co-founder of Green Pal, a platform connecting customers to lawn care experts in their area throughout the United States. With such diverse areas to cover, Gene is well-versed in specific greenery needs for various environments. 

Jamie Mitri
Jamie Mitri

Jamie is an entrepreneur with degrees in chemical engineering and biology and an eye for design. She founded her company, Moss Pure — which features the world's only live moss air filter and stress relief device that acts as an aesthetically pleasing decor piece — at a startup competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where it took first place in 2020.

Lucie Bradley
Lucie Bradley

Lucie Bradley is a gardening expert with Two Wests & Elliott. She teamed up with Victorian Plumbing to uncover how bathwater affects plants' health. 

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Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.