Keeping toddlers clean on a water budget

My son, like any toddler loves splashing in water. I have an Instagram clip of him splashing in puddles after some rain in winter last year. His rain dance!

As a mom of a two-year-old and a 10-month old, I have the challenge of feeding, cleaning, doing washing and keeping their play and sleep areas clean with minimal water. That means as a mom I have to think ahead, so I keep a spray bottle handy to moisten and wipe clean.

We’ve also gone a bit into survival mode – we bathe the children with water we’ve collected from waiting for the shower to get warmer. You need less hot water to make their bath water warmer.

We pour excess water and their used bath water in the toilet’s cistern.

We boil water for the bottles and the remaining water is poured into bottles for sipping during the day or night.

And instead of stockpiling water, I’ve been collecting dirty

Please don’t shoot me, but I’ve been considering taking it to the laundry for months. Smalls I wash by hand, but when I get to the point where I’m really irritated and want things spic-and-span, I shove laundry into our front-loader washing machine.

I’ve also just learned that I should pour my grey water into the washing machine, through its soap dispenser.

To rinse vegetables, I put the colander over a basin, collect the water and in the absence of a garden, that too goes in the cistern.

According to the City of Cape Town, 50 to 80% of indoor water used in the home can be reused as grey water. However, there are ways of using different types of grey water safely and effectively. If grey water is stored for longer than 24 hours it needs treatment, such as filtration and disinfection as advised by a specialist.

My colleagues advise a capful of bleach or vinegar.

So what is grey water? It is untreated wastewater which comes from baths and showers and handwash basins. Laundry water from washing machines or hand washing only qualifies as grey water for reuse if environmentally-friendly detergents have been used.

Grey water is not toilet water (which contains faecal matter and germs/pathogens) or water from spas, Jacuzzis and pools.

Always sanitise your hands after handling grey water and remember: use water wisely and help others to do so too.

For more useful information about water restrictions, the Water By-law and saving water, go to

Washing machine tips:

With a front loader, reuse washing water by pouring it in through the soap dispenser using a watering can.

If your top loader is a modern contraption that automatically drains when it detects standing water (preventing grey water re-use), switch it off at the plug before you refill it.

Or manually deselect your wash cycle and use the first rinse cycle as a wash cycle instead.

Water dashboard:

Yesterday, Tuesday February 13, deputy mayor Ian Neilson said Day Zero had been pushed back to Monday June 4 after a record low in consumption, 526 million litres a day.

Dam levels are at 222 220 megalitres (24.7%), down less than 1% from a week before.