What Cleaning Products Can I Use With a Septic Tank?

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Cleaning products (Photo: @mjashmore via Twenty20)
If you have a septic tank in your home, then everything that goes down the drains ends up there. Whether you’re using a sink, a shower, or the toilet, all liquids drain to your septic tank. Obviously, you need to be careful with what you put down the drain, and that means you should think twice before using certain cleaning products.

You can use products that are safe for humans

A good rule of thumb is that if the cleaning product is safe for humans, it’s probably safe for the septic tank as well. In other words, you don’t have to worry too much about the products that you’re using in the bath or in the shower to clean yourself. If it’s fine going on your body, then it shouldn’t cause much trouble once it makes its way into the septic system.
This is also a good rule of thumb for cleaning products that you’ll use to clean things around your home. If you’re using gloves or a mask when handling the product, or it warns you not to let it touch your skin, then you probably don’t want it ending up in your septic system.

You should limit the use of bleach

We all know that bleach is harmful, both to things it touches and to the environment. However, it can be very hard to clean some items without using a little bleach. “Little” is the important word here. You won’t damage your septic system if you use a small supply of bleach when cleaning, but try to use it as infrequently as possible, and in as small of doses as possible.

You can use most household cleaners

Most generic household cleaning products for your dishes, clothes, and surfaces are totally fine to use. Just as with bleach, it’s best to use them in small amounts if possible, and it’s also smart to buy products that are labeled as environmentally friendly, or kind to septic tanks. It’s also a great idea to purchase household cleaners that are advertised as being water-based, as they’re usually very safe for septic systems.
Generally speaking, household cleaners won’t do much damage to your septic system, but it’s still good to be thoughtful with your use.

You can’t use drain cleaners

Drain cleaners are made of extremely powerful chemicals. In fact, it’s hard to find any other cleaners for your house that are more chemically intense than drain cleaners. As such, you want to avoid putting them down the drain, and letting them work their way to the septic system. Even if your drain is blocked, it’s smart to explore other ways of cleaning it out, instead of using a harmful drain cleaner that can cause serious damage.

What is the danger of using cleaning products that you shouldn’t use with a septic tank?

There’s one main reason for avoiding putting harmful cleaning products in your septic tank. There are a lot of bacteria and microorganisms living in your septic tank, which serve to break down slime and sludge and make things function well in the tank. Cleaning products can kill these microorganisms and bacteria, thus keeping them from doing their vital job. This results in many solids forming in your septic tank, and it might no longer run through the water treatment system. At this point, your septic tank is in trouble, and that can be costly.