Cleaners that are safe to use with a septic system

Updated February 21, 2017

A septic system is an independent sewage station that breaks down solids and flushes liquid waste to a series of drain fields. Septic systems are on-site and underground in one or more holding tanks. When cleaning your home and discharging liquids down your home's drains and toilets, it is important not to introduce the wrong types of cleaners into your home's septic system. The wrong cleaners can damage the septic system and cause it not to work properly.

Nontoxic Cleaners

Use nontoxic cleaners including baking soda, vinegar and mild cleaners labelled "non-toxic" if you plan on pouring the cleaners down a drain or toilet in your home. Avoid commercial cleaners that state "not safe for septic systems." These chemicals will break down the bacteria present in your home's septic system and cause the tank(s) to not process solids and liquid waste properly.

When using cleaners, do not dispose of an excessive amount of the chemicals down a drain or a toilet. Excessive water and cleaners can damage your septic system even if the solutions are deemed safe for use in septic systems or nontoxic.


When washing clothing and other garments in your home's washer, use low-phosphorus or phosphorus-free detergents. Phosphorus is a chemical that interferes with the bacteria and operation of your home's septic system. Low-phosphorus and phosphorus-free detergents are available at grocery, hardware and home improvement stores.


Do not pour an excessive amount of bleach or bleach-based chemicals down your home's drains and toilets, if you have to clean with bleach. Or instead use a mild soap solution that is water-based or a commercial soap solution that states it is safe for septic systems.


Even though commercial additives are available for your home's septic system that aid in breaking down solids, these additives do not reverse any damage done from introducing the wrong cleaners to the system. Use the additives according to the recommendations and directions on the chemical's container and use the correct cleaners always.

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About the Author

Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.