11 Ways to Use Rainwater at Home

11 Ways to Use Rainwater at Home

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Did you know the average American uses 90 gallons of water per day, and almost half of those gallons are used for showering and flushing? By simply replacing your tap water with harvested rainwater, you can significantly reduce your water bill. 

Whether you are looking to reduce your water bill or become a self-sufficient homesteader, you should consider storing rainwater because it can substitute tap water for many household tasks. We have previously written about how to collect rainwater as well as how to purify rainwater for drinking, but in this article, we will discuss 11 ways to use rainwater at home. 

11 Ways to Use Rainwater

filtered rainwater for drinking

1. Drinking

Rainwater is the purest type of water you can drink. However, as rainwater falls from the clouds and into your catchment area, it collects sediments and other pollutants. So, it must be filtered and purified for potable uses to remove impurities.

Unfiltered rainwater has a shelf life of 1 week before it starts to attract mosquitos and emits a foul odor. Purified rainwater can last up to 6 months when properly stored in the fridge

So, if you want to keep rainwater for drinking, you will need to purify it by performing a filtration process. Filtration systems may vary and may be expensive, but investing in them will be beneficial in the long run. Some methods to purify are:

  1. Boiling Water
  2. UV Light
  3. Gravity Filter
  4. Chemical Purification
  5. Solar Purification

2. Cooking

Freshly harvested rainwater is potable for about a week, so it may be used to wash your vegetables, fruits, or utensils in the kitchen for up to 7 days.

If the stored rainwater is purified through a filtration system, it can be stored and used for up to 6 months. Within those 6 months, filtered rainwater can be used for cooking dishes and making coffee as it is already purified like regular water.

Watering Garden

3. Gardening

Watering your plants is perhaps the primary use of rainwater. However, in a prolonged dry spell, you may need to rely on your stored water to feed your plants. You can connect a water pump to your water tank to move water easily throughout your property.

It is a good practice to purify rainwater before watering your plants. Although rainwater is naturally distilled, it absorbs pollutants as it falls from the clouds. Some pollutants may be toxic and harmful to plants, so you should filter them out before watering your plants.

Rainwater also has nitrogen which is beneficial for the healthy growth of your plants.

rainwater storage

4. Flushing Toilets

There’s a high amount of water that is released in every flush you make to your toilet, which contributes a significant percentage to your water use in your household. The average American consumes 90 gallons of water a day, and 24% of that is used for flushing toilet water

Rainwater is an ideal water supply to use in flushing your toilets. You can manually get a pail of rainwater from your barrels whenever you need to flush. Or you might be interested in investing in installing a water pump that will allow your water tanks to transport water directly into your home. 

rainwater for pets

5. Water for Pets and Livestock

You can use your filtered or pre-filtered rainwater to feed your pets and livestock animals. Although animals can get sick from drinking contaminated water, water-borne microbes do not affect them like it affects humans. Animals have a higher resistance to bacteria than humans.

However, it is better if your collected rainwater is clean and treated by a filtration system in order to be safer to drink for pets in the long run. 

Your purified rainwater can also be utilized for troughs of your livestock animals and in bathing them. 

washing vegetable with rainwater

6. Washing Vegetables and Fruits

If you have a survival garden, you can rinse harvested vegetables or fruits in a bucket poured with your filtered or purified rainwater. 

You should always use soft and potable water when it comes to cooking. Using non-potable water could cause bacteria and pathogens to grow on your food and cause severe sickness. So anytime you intend to use harvested rainwater, make sure the water is filtered and purified before using it to wash vegetables and fruits.

7. Cleaning in the house

Rainwater for non-potable use has many purposes, which include cleaning the indoors or outdoors of your house. Non-potable rainwater can be kept for weeks; however, it will emit a foul odor and may attract insects and algae if exposed to sunlight. 

For outdoor purposes, you can directly use your stored rainwater to wash your vehicle or clean up your lawns. 

For indoor purposes, you can lower your water bill by using purified potable rainwater for bathing or doing your laundry. 

washing clothes with rainwater

8. Washing Clothes

Rainwater is soft water that is suitable to use for hand washing or machine washing your clothes. 

Although it’s not necessary, we recommend you filter your untreated rainwater to strain it from large sediments. Plus, treated rainwater would be much better if you want your clothes to be free from harmful bacteria.

Washing your laundry is one of the main driver’s water consumption in a household, so by using rainwater to do laundry, you can reduce your water consumption and utility bills.  

rainwater harvesting 2

9. Fire Prevention

If you are living in an area that is prone to wildfires, harvesting rainwater for future use would be ideal for your safety from this potential threat. 

You can install a reliable water pump for quick access to water in case of an emergency. This not only ensures preparedness for potential wildfires but can also save you from any fire accidents and save time waiting for responses from firefighters in your community. 

Survival Garden Compost

10. Composting

Compost is used to enrich the soil with nutrients for growing your plants and garden. Watering your compost piles is important in the decomposition process. You can use rainwater through a watering can or an automatic irrigation system connected to the treated rainwater in order to water your compost piles and the rest of your garden.  

survival pond

11. Filling your Survival Pond

Rainwater is also ideal for filling ponds in your survival garden. A survival pond will give your family fresh and nutrient-rich fish in a disaster scenario. To ensure the fish in the pond are in a safe environment for reproducing, you will have to make sure the water is filtered and cleaned regularly.

However, using on-grid water sources can be expensive to fill up a pond. This is where stored rainwater will be useful. You can pump filtered water from your storage tank into the pond, giving the fish clean water to occupy. 

Plus, since the water will be coming from your storage location, it will lower your monthly water bill for maintaining the fish pond.

rainwater harvest

People Also Asked

Some questions we frequently come across are:

Rainwater is purer than tap water. Rainwater is originally free from chemicals, while tap water underwent chemical treatment such as using chlorine as a disinfectant. As long as rainwater is filtered and purified, it is safe for potable use, like drinking water. For watering your plants, rainwater is naturally designed to hydrate plants. Although both underwent treatment, rainwater remains more beneficial in terms of natural nutrients for the growth of plants than tap water.

Rainwater is better than groundwater. Rainwater is soft water, while groundwater is hard water. Rainwater falls from the sky and is free of salts, minerals, and chemicals, while groundwater comes from the deep ground, which has a high mineral content that is harmful to plants and potable use. Rainwater also has more pure nitrogen content from thunderstorms than groundwater which promotes greener growth in your plants. Rainwater is the purest type of water; thus, treated rainwater is more suitable for potable use than groundwater that needs chemical treatment.

Rainwater can be stored for about a week before it becomes contaminated or harmful to use. If you want to use it for a longer time for your plants and crops, you will need to secure that it is tightly sealed in a dark-coated barrel. Also, make sure that the barrel is not exposed to sunlight and not in direct contact with animals and insects. Exposure to sunlight fosters algae growth, while insects like mosquitos make the stored rainwater their breeding ground. After a week, the water should be disposed of, and the tank cleaned. If you want to store the rainwater for longer than a week, it will need to be filtered, purified, and secured tightly in a storage location. From there, it can be connected to a pump or irrigation system to water your crops.

Non-potable water is not safe for washing your dishes. You may not want to wash your plate with water that you will not even drink. It is only recommendable to wash your dishes with purified rainwater. Filtered water from your storage tanks which are not yet purified, may be used for your dishes but only for about a week. To guarantee safety, you should wash your dishes from treated water in your storage tanks and opt to install conveyance pipes that connect them inside your home.

To keep your rainwater from stagnating, use your harvested rainwater as frequently as possible. Also, clean your barrels regularly, especially if you notice algae growth or impurities. Use dark-coated and food-grade barrels to prevent contact with sunlight that fosters algae growth and mosquito breeding. Moreover, clean the screen filters where rainwater enters before reaching the barrel, and have the lid of your container tightly covered. Furthermore, clean your gutters and roof regularly so that no large debris will enter and may clog your downspout pipes.

rainwater bucket

Wrapping Up

Rainwater is the purest type of water that can be used for lots of different applications. Whether it is for indoor or outdoor purposes, rainwater harvesting can be an alternative water source if you want to conserve or secure your water supply for an emergency scenario.

Treated harvested rainwater can be used for potable purposes, but untreated rainwater should only be used for non-potable purposes. If you are a homesteader or living in an arid location where the water supply may be scarce, rainwater harvesting methods are ideal to adapt for future survival.

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