Septic Systems and Cleaning Products

houseProperty owners who have septic systems have plenty of reason to be wary about dumping any chemicals into the system. While septic systems are designed to accommodate laundry products and many cleaning products when used as directed, it’s important for homeowners to understand exactly what chemicals can do to harm your septic system and what types of chemicals are, indeed, safe to use. Your septic system is a major investment, so it’s essential to understand its maintenance needs to protect it and ward off costly repairs.


Disinfectants are common household agents use to clean many areas of the home including bathrooms and toilets. These agents are formulated to kill germs and often include pine cleaners, derivatives of pine oil. Disinfectants are generally considered safe for your septic system; however, they must be carefully used in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Because only small amounts of these products are needed to clean household areas and are further diluted in water, they shouldn’t pose a threat to your system. However, you should certainly not dump a bottle of these cleaners into your system where they could destroy a significant portion of your septic systems important bacteria that are needed to break down waste.

Laundry Detergents

Laundry detergents and household cleaning products that contain surfactants are usually considered safe for septic systems. These agents degrade naturally once they get into your leach field and do not pose a threat to the environment or ground water. They may also sink to the bottom of your septic tank and will need to be clean with the other sludge that isn’t released into the drain field. It’s important, though, to have your tank cleaned routinely every two or three years in order to prevent build ups that could lead to blockages.

Drain Cleaners

Most septic tank experts will encourage homeowners to avoid these products if you have drain clog. While these products may unclog pipes within the home, you don’t want to chance too much of the cleaner getting into your system where it may continue to act. Mostly, these products will be diluted enough and not cause a problem, but using them often could lead to a buildup in your septic system and that is not safe for it. Instead, try to clear household drains using augers instead of these drain cleaners just to be safe.


Solvents should not be introduced to your septic system. Solvents and solvent-based products include items like degreasers, paint thinners, and even nail polish remover. These items are not safe for the environment and do not mix with water. In short, they are not material that your septic system can treat, so they should never be introduced to your system.

When you use chemicals and cleaners, be sure you understand which ones are safe to use with your septic system. If you aren’t sure, you should call your septic system service provider for advice. You don’t want to risk harming this valuable home system or your environment.

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