Rain barrel water \"soapy\"

Toronto, Canada

Hi,
I'm not sure if I'm posting this question in the right thread but not sure where else to post but under identification. I attempted to use my rain barrel (plastic purchased new about 3 years ago) & I noticed that the water coming from the barrel looked "soapy". I used the barrel about 1 week ago without any issues. There is no soapy odor, maybe a slight sulphuric smell if I put my nose right next to the water. I attempted first to fill my watering can & noticed soap like suds, as if I had put dish soap in the can before adding the water, about 70% water & 30% suds (see picture). I rinsed the watering can with tap water, no suds. So I opened the rain barrel & it was pouring soapy looking water onto the lawn (see pics). I have since tried draining the rain barrel, such a waste of water :( , & running hose water through the top to rinse out the barrel but still getting the soapy looking water. We have had a lot of rain & humidity recently but not unlike previous summers & I have never noticed this before. Has anyone ever seen this? What could be causing it? Is the water safe to use on gardens, lawns, fruits/veggies, etc? Any information anyone can share would be greatly appreciated! Thanks :)

Thumbnail by rmskiff Thumbnail by rmskiff Thumbnail by rmskiff
Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

I hot my barrel from a car wash .Where did you get your from?Maybe it had contained cleaning substance.Anyway soap is my harmful to plants it help with bugs.If the suds are bothering you ,just dump out the water and refill again.I painted my barrel.

Thumbnail by cytf Thumbnail by cytf Thumbnail by cytf
Toronto, Canada

I purchased my rain barrel new from Lowe's so it was never used for anything before. I've had it for 3 years & have never had this happen before. I'm worried that if it isn't some sort of soap, which I would have NO idea how soap would have gotten in there, then afraid that whatever it is will damage the gardens & make the veggies & fruit inedible. I have already dumped it once & flushed it with water from the hose but after the rain fall last night the water is still coming out "sudsy" looking. My next door neighbour hasn't had any issues so makes it even weirder! You're rain barrel looks great :)

Toronto, Canada

I purchased my rain barrel new from Lowe's so it was never used for anything before. I've had it for 3 years & have never had this happen before. I'm worried that if it isn't some sort of soap, which I would have NO idea how soap would have gotten in there, then afraid that whatever it is will damage the gardens & make the veggies & fruit inedible. I have already dumped it once & flushed it with water from the hose but after the rain fall last night the water is still coming out "sudsy" looking. My next door neighbour hasn't had any issues so makes it even weirder! You're rain barrel looks great :)

Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

Can you try to leave the faucet on the barrel open at the next rainfall and see if that catch of water will just run off and hopefully next catch might not be soapy.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 7b)

Try to determine the source of the suds.

I assume your rain barrel is catching runoff from your roof?

Has your house siding and/or roof been pressure-washed or cleaned recently? If so, there could be detergent residue that is getting into the rainwater.

Maybe you have a neighborhood prankster who is putting soap/detergent into your rain barrel or who tossed a "soap bomb" water balloon onto your roof?

Try placing a clean bucket underneath where your rain barrel goes and spray water from a hose up onto the roof. If the water in the bucket has suds then you have something on your roof.

Toronto, Canada

Thanks for all the suggestions/recommendations! I completely emptied the barrel & scrubbed it clean with vinegar & water solution; once I opened the barrel & saw how much algae was in there I has grossed out, especially thinking about using that on my fruit & veggie plants lol. Now I'm just waiting for the good rain storms over the next couple of days to see if there is any more soapy looking water draining from it. If there is it will have to be from something coming from the roof because the barrel is definitely clean now. We do have a neighbour that is being a "prankster" (that's a nice way of saying that they have been causing a lot of neighbours problems) so it isn't out of the realm of possibility that they "soaped" the rain barrel unfortunately. Thanks again to everyone who posted for taking the time to respond! Hope you're all having a good day :)

Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

I am happy that you have zeroed down the problem that it might be a prankster because it was very strange about the soapy water .

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