June 13, 2012

DIY Outdoor Sink: Rinse Veggies, Save Water

Last month, my handy husband put together an outdoor sink for the homestead using an old stainless steel double basin our neighbors were throwing away, plus some 2 x 2s and a few small items purchased at Hibbert Lumber.

My new outdoor, water-saving, veggie prep station!

I'd been wanting an outdoor sink for a long time, but buying a brand new sink and having it professionally plumbed to tap into our drain pipes wasn't financially possible. Then I saw a picture of Harriet Fasenfest's DIY outdoor sink and was inspired. Turns out, I'm happy we didn't spend money on a new, fully-plumbed sink, because not only was mine practically free, but it's also a serious water saving device and functional veggie prep station.

Mr. English filling the rinse basin with just-picked oranges

The parts required to modify the sink to meet our needs were minimal. The sink still had a working faucet attached. I found a four-foot-long drinking water safe hose designed for an RV, and used that to connect the faucet's cold water line to the water spigot. (The faucet's hot water line was capped.) The setup required a couple of other small plumbing parts to connect the standard threading on the hose to the faucet.

Drinking water safe hose, attached to existing Y-connector

Hose connected to the cold water line; hot water line capped

My favorite part about the sink is our setup for collecting and re-using water. Since I'm not putting any soap or nasty chemicals in the sink, all the water used to rinse food, hands or tools can be saved and used again to water the lawn or other landscape plants.

Chard soaking in the rinse basin

Since the original drain line was still in place--cut off at the end of the white elbow in the photo below--it was easy to create this water-saving feature. Mr. English modified a $2 plastic bucket from Home Depot so that it could both collect and dispense water. That involved cutting a circle out of the lid and installing a screen to let water through but keep mosquitoes and debris out, and installing an inexpensive spigot near the bottom. The bucket was placed under the right basin of the sink.

Original sink drain pipe with collection bucket underneath

Spigot attached using a drill and some caulk

Now when I triple rinse a colander full of greens, instead of all those gallons of water going down the kitchen sink drain, they go into the collection bucket and then into a watering can for use in the garden.

Veggie rinse water draining into collection bucket

Rinse water draining into watering can

But wait, there's more! The other reason I love my new sink is that it makes processing fruits and veggies--whether from the garden, farmers market or grocery store--so much easier. While the right side of the sink is used for rinsing, the left side (where the garbage disposal used to be), is where I do the food prep work.

Now instead of making a dirty mess in the kitchen and filling my kitchen compost bucket with tops, roots, damaged leaves, etc. that need to be carted outside, the trimmings fall right through the hole in the sink directly into a large, white bucket. When it gets full, I walk it over to the compost pile. So convenient!

Looking through the trimming sink into the compost bucket

I'm very curious to see how much water will be saved on the homestead by using this sink. Water costs will be increasing in Davis in the near future, as the city looks to build a new system for water delivery. Anything I can do to conserve water will make a difference in our bill, and is just good for the earth, of course. I plan to track the water collection for at least a couple of weeks to get a rough idea of the savings, and will report back. In the meantime, if you're interested in making a similar sink for yourself and want more details (or want to come check it out if you're in the area), let me know!


  1. Can't wait to show this Josh! You are an inspiration!

    1. Hi Jen! Well, someone else inspired me to do this in the first place, so I guess I'm just passing along the original inspiration. :) You're welcome to come check it out next time you're in Davis.

  2. Great post! We're putting one of these in ths summer, and you've added some great ideas to the mix.

    1. Thanks, Rachel. I'm checking out your blog now--you've got quite a few great ideas yourself!

  3. Compliments on excellent design (catching the water into a watering can=genius). I am trying to do this myself-so I have a question. You mentioned "couple of other small plumbing parts to connect the standard threading on the hose to the faucet"-could you tell me what those parts were, what they are called when I go to buy them - or did you have to order online/are they easily found at a home depot for instance?
    I guess those are questionS.
    Thanks for your time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. very nice,if i dont get a specific one i found online for 60$ im totally stealing your idea