Household Cleaners and Septic Tanks: What Homeowners Need to Know

household cleaners, septic tanks

Fun fact: septic tanks are teeming with bacteria. The bacteria are necessary for the breakdown of solid waste; otherwise, a backup will quickly occur. Unbeknownst to most homeowners, though, household cleaners may disrupt the bacteria. Here’s some more helpful info about the negative relationship between household cleaners and septic tanks.

Which Household Cleaners Are Safe for Septic Tanks?

Always read the label of a store-bought cleaner. Look for labels that indicate the product is “septic-safe” or “septic-friendly.” You are not, however, limited to these labels. Other safe alternatives include cleaners with the labels:

  • Environmentally-friendly
  • Phosphate-free
  • Biodegradable
  • All-natural

Aim for cleaners that use 100% bio-based active ingredients. This includes natural products, such as citrus or pine oil. You can also use water-based cleaners that list water as the first ingredient. This is a contrast to acid-based cleaners that contain harsh solvents. Additional acceptable and inexpensive options include baking soda and vinegar, both of which are probably already in your kitchen pantry.

Household Cleaners to Avoid

Limit the use of chemical-based cleaners and even some disinfectants, such as anti-bacterial soap. Bleach and ammonia-based cleaners are also fine in moderation. If you require a lot of bleach for cleaning, then we suggest Borax as an alternative.

Cleaners to avoid completely include store-bought drain cleaners and anything containing sodium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, or sulfuric acid. These are germ killers and badly disrupt the bacteria in the septic tank. The consequence? More frequent septic pumping will be necessary because fewer bacteria are available to break down the solids.

We Keep Your Septic System in Working Order

An OSS inspection will reveal whether pumping your tanks is in order. For businesses, we perform grease trap cleaning. Call Lil John Sanitary Services for all septic system and grease trap maintenance. Household cleaners and septic tanks have a complex relationship that homeowners must watch carefully.

Residential Septic Pumping and Maintenance

Serving Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden, Everson, Deming, Lummi Island, Nooksack, Blaine, Whatcom & Skagit Counties, Maple Falls, Bow Birch Bay, Custer, and Acme