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Household Products That Will Ruin Your Septic Tank!

Many homeowners who have septic tanks don’t know what they can and cannot put down their drains. It might surprise you to learn just how fragile septic tanks are and how many everyday household products can damage and/or clog your septic tank.

Keep your septic tank in good condition and avoid costly septic repairs by keeping these products away from your drains.

Chemical Cleaners

Septic systems use bacteria to eliminate pathogens in waste. When you put anti-bacterial cleaners or bleach down your drains, you disrupt the bacteria cycle in your septic tank. Only use septic-safe cleaners to clean your home.


Several septic tank additives claim to increase bacteria in your septic system. This sounds great if you use a lot of anti-bacterial cleaners. However, the EPA and American Ground Water Trust point out that chemical additives could harm your tank more than they help. If you’re concerned about the amount of bacteria in your septic tank, call a professional to inspect it before you try to increase bacteria on your own.

Bath Oils

Oil floats to the top of your septic tank, and then forms a layer of scum. This layer sits on tops of other liquids in your tank. It resists bacterial activity and embeds the solid waste layer. Oils also clog drain fields and stop pathogenic decay.

Kitchen Grease

Any type of grease adds to the scum layer in your septic tank. If you cook a lot of food, you may want to install grease traps to keep grease from entering your septic tank. Otherwise, you should refrain from pouring grease down your sinks.

Dryer Sheets

The synthetic fabric used to make dryer sheets won’t biodegrade in the septic tank. Dryer sheets may also clog the inlet baffle.

Kitty Litter

Cat litter contains clay particles that add to the solid waste volume in your septic tank. Over time, the clay will clog pipes and ruin your septic tank. Kitty litter advertised specifically as biodegradable may not harm your septic tank.

Latex Products

Most latex products are not biodegradable. This means they will join the floating debris in your tank until the next pump-out. If your outlet tee is missing, the latex may also clog the drain field on its way out of your septic tank. Latex can also clog the pump impeller and burn your septic motor.

Paints and Oils

Substances like motor oil, paints, varnishes, and floor wax will damage organisms in your tank. This bacterium is necessary to keep your soil and groundwater free from pathogens. Instead of putting these oils down the drain, refer to your city’s waste management for recommended guidelines to dispose of these chemicals.

Prescription and Chemotherapy Drugs

Powerful drugs may still contain active chemicals even after passing through a patient’s digestive system. These chemicals can cause severe harm to your septic tank. Consider keeping drug-contaminated excrement out of your septic tank. Or, schedule more frequent septic pumping if these drugs are part of your treatment.

Some prescription drugs could also harm the environment. Talk with your pharmacist for guidance on disposal of your prescriptions.

Automatic Toilet Cleaner Chemicals

Automatic toilet cleaners send too many anti-bacterial chemicals into your septic tank. Excessive amounts of toilet cleaners often leave your tank dead and full of blue water. Instead, use septic-safe toilet cleaners.

Dental Floss

Floss usually doesn’t enter your tank in large quantities. However, even small amounts of string can clog and damage pump impellers. The floss will not biodegrade and may stay in your tank for a while. It’s only a matter of time until it wraps around a pump and damages your septic tank.

Large Amounts of Water

Whenever you put large amounts of water into your tank, you risk flooding the tank. Your tank can only handle a set amount of household water, not large amounts of water from a pool or roof gutter. An excessive amount of water also prevents proper processing of the waste in the tank.


Don’t use your sinks or toilets as trash cans. Solid waste will not decompose and will fill your septic system twice as fast as liquid waste. Throw your trash in the garbage to avoid paying more in pump-out costs.


We don’t expect you to flush your clothes down the toilet. However, young children may not understand how toilets work. Make sure your children or grandchildren don’t flush any clothing down the drain. The clothes will not degrade and will clog your septic tank. This also applies to toys and coins.

Cigarette Butts

Cigarette filters may clog the tank. You should never flush cigarettes down the drain.

Refer to your septic tank owner’s manual or call a professional for a complete list of harmful products. As a rule of thumb, keep non-biodegradable products out of your septic tank. You will save yourself from costly repairs and increase your tank’s life expectancy.

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