Pouring ammonia into a toiletFlush Household Chemicals into a Septic Tank?
Septic Tank Maintenance Advice

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What typical household chemicals and substances are safe to flush down the toilet and into a private septic system?

Is it ok to flush common household chemicals & household cleaners cleaners into the septic tank?

Which household chemicals may damage the septic tank or leach fields and at what levels of usage are they harmful? This document explains how to extend the life of the septic system by being careful about what goes into it.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Effects of Household Chemicals Flushed Into a Septic System

Household Chemicals Commonly Put Into Septic System or Down Building Drains

a home photo lab - lots of photo chemicals into the septic system might be a problem at this propertyWhat common household cleaners or chemicals are OK to flush into the septic tank?What household cleaners or other common household liquids should NOT be flushed into the septic tank?What do bleach, epsom salts, liquor, whiskey, wine do to the septic tank and drainfield?

Technical review, content suggestions, critique are welcomed and are listed at "References." This article is part of our series:

SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECTION & MAINTENANCE COURSE an online book on septic systems.

Photo of household cleaners under a sink

  • Dishwasher detergents: see DISHWASHER & LAUNDRY DETERGENTS CONTAINING PHOSPHATES & SURFACTANTS for a discussion of the effects of phosphates & detergents on the environment.

  • Septic chemicals (C) DanieL Friedman

    Reader Question: Will antibacterial soap interfere with a septic system?

    Antibacterial dish soap (C) Daniel FriedmanI've done a search on your informative site but I was unable to ascertain as to whether or not antibacterial soaps should be used at a home with a septic system.

    Will the antibacterial quality of the soap interfere with the needed bacteria in the system? -- V.W.

    Reply: At normal usage levels antibacterial soap won't hurt the septic tank

    A short answer is "no" - not in the amounts that would normally be used in a household.

    At normal household usage levels such as washing hands or washing dishes, anitbacterial soap will be sufficiently dilute in the septic tank as to do no harm.

    We use the same reasoning as used for normal usage of household cleaners and laundry bleach discussed in the article above. - Ed.

    Reade Question: what causes drain clogging or septic pump clogging by a white waxy substance?

    What causes the large amount of white waxy clumpy substance that i found recently in my septic pump container?

    The substance was stuck to the sides of the tank(severeal inches thick), stuck all over the pump, and stuck all over the float switch which of course was the problem and the reason for opening the septic tank.

    This goopy accumulation happened over 2 years and 5 months.
    thanks. - Rani 8/11/11



    I can't be certain what the white stuff was without seeing a sample in our forensic lab. But I can warn that using more powdered detergent in a dishwasher or clothes washer can lead to accumulation of a gooey mess that clogs drains or even septic drainfields.

    You've added another important example: excessive detergent use OR using a budget detergent that contains large amounts of clay fillers can clog the pump float control switch or the pump intake in a sewage ejector pump or sewer pump as well.

    We discuss the causes of white waxy deposits in drains and sewage or ejector pumps


    We discuss detergent choices & recommendations to minimize drain and septic problems in two locations. Please see


    also see DISHWASHER & LAUNDRY DETERGENTS CONTAINING PHOSPHATES & SURFACTANTS for a discussion of the effects of phosphates & detergents on the environment.

    Or the white goop you're seeing could be a grease build-up.

    Is it ok to use degreasing solvents in septic tanks?

    On 2016-06-08 19:14:37.212810 by Kathleen Waterman - why can't I dispose of degreasing solvents into the septic tank

    Why cant degreasing solvents be thrown down the drain into a septic

    This question was originally posted at SEPTIC SYSTEM PUMPS

    On 2016-06-08 Reply by (mod) - distinguish cleaning de-greasers from plumbing drain degreasing products

    I have not included common plumbing drain FOG (Fat Oil Grease) degreasers (such as Cloroben PT-4) in our Don't Flush List (link given below) though excessive use of any solvent may not only harm the septic tank but some solvents are harmful to humans directly or if found in groundwater.

    However other degreasing solvents such as those used in industry to clean metal parts, or in garages to clean automotive parts, are a completely different product that should not be flushed down drains into septic systems, and that might be prohibited from drain disposal in municipal sewer systems as well.

    See this example MSDS safety sheet for Cloroben PT4, a plumbing drain cleaner also described as a "flow improver" and "grease control agent" produced and marketed by Hercules. As pointed out by Hughes (1954) often safety has focused first on explosion or fire hazards.

    Some Hercules products such as Hercules PT-GIO1™ combine grease solvents and "waste disgesting bacteria" while Hercules PT-4 (or Cloroben PT-4) is a formlua designed to rapidly dissolve FOG (Fats Oils and Grease) using a non-acidic, non-caustic formula that is described as "safe on all types of piping materials when used as directed"

    Because of the potential health impacts, the U.S. EPA has ste maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for some solvents such as chlorinated solvents in groundwater in the United States.

    And some supposedly-safe solvents have been demonstrated to be hazardous


    Continue reading at CHEMICALS to KEEP OUT OF SEPTICS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

    Or see CHEMICALS & CLEANERS in the SEPTIC TANK FAQs - questions and answers posted originally on this page.

    Also see CHEMICALS & TREATMENTS for SEPTICS - do we need to put treatments in the septic tank?



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