InspectAPedia®

LARGER VIEW of
a home photo lab - lots of photo chemicals into the septic system might be a problem at this propertyDoes a home Washing Machine Affect the Septic Tank?

  • WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS - CONTENTS: Does a washing machine or dishwasher harm the septic tank or septic drainfield?What laundry soaps & dishwasher detergents are best to use when a home is served by a septic tank and drainfield?How to minimize the possible clogging or other effects of laundry soaps or detergents on the septic system. What steps can be taken to minimize the impact of laundry water use on a septic system?
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about septic system maintenance where a washing machine is used and empties into the septic tank
  • REFERENCES
InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Clothes washing machines vs. the septic system:

Can we use a clothes washer or "washing machine" when a home is connected to a private septic system? What steps should be taken to protect the septic system from excessive water use or clothes lint or detergents? How to extend the life of a septic system.



Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.

Washing Machine Draining into Septic System

washing machine and various household chemicals and cleaners

[Click to enlarge any image]

Article Contents

Does a washing machine overload and harm the septic system?

The volume of water from home washing machine use should not be a problem with a normal septic system in good working order.

As we discussed at Dishwashers, in some conditions you should avoid emptying washing machine discharge into the septic system:

Below we discuss steps you can take to minimize the possible effects of extra wastewater loads caused by washing machines, and then we discuss the effects of detergents and soaps when operating a clothes washer connected to a septic system or drywell.

Does Washing Machine Detergent Harm the Septic Tank or Septic System Drainfield?

The volume of detergent from a residential clothes washer entering the septic system is so low as to be very dilute when it enters the septic tank, dilute enough that it is not going to harm the septic tank bacteria at normal levels of residential dishwasher use.

Clothes washing machine detergents do not make a high level of suds inside the machine.They rely on surfactants, high water temperature, and time spent agitating the contents of the clothes washing machine to clean them.

However many if not most washing machine (and dishwasher) detergents contain phosphates or nonylphenol ethoxylate surfactants. Surfactants are what make detergents effective in lifting soil particles off of a surface (a dish in the dishwasher or a shirt in the washing machine). These chemicals may be serious contaminants of ground water and surface water in the environment.

What laundry detergents or soaps should we use in a Clothes Washing Machine connected to a septic tank or to a Graywater System?

washing machine and various household chemicals and cleaners

Sometimes we find that dry powder clothes washer soap appears as clots and clogs in the system - usually because the homeowner is pouring in too much detergent and is not following the manufacturer's instructions.

Passing solid clumps of detergent into the septic tank speed clogging of the system and in severe cases can even block a building drain.

Recommended dishwasher & laundry detergents: are discussed in detail separately at DETERGENTS in our article at DISHWASHERS vs SEPTICS where we discuss recommended detergents and also the effects of phosphates & detergents on the environment.


How to minimize the possible clogging or other effects of laundry soaps on the septic system

Apartment building washing machine room (C) Daniel Friedman

A private septic system tank and drainfield can be protected from clogging due to excessive use of detergents.

And even if a building's wastewater is carried to a public sewer there may be concerns with detergent clogging in the drain system. In the laundry room serving a residential apartment building such as shown in our photo (left, Bronx, NY), asking residents to follow these suggestions can help prevent sewer drain clogging.

The following measures may relieve the water volume load on septic fields from the washing machine:

photo of a graywater filter for septic systems

Also see CHEMICALS & CLEANERS into the SEPTIC TANK?

& CHEMICALS to KEEP OUT OF SEPTICS - separate articles

Effects of Household Bleach on the Septic System

Bleach at normal household usage levels should not harm the septic system.

Don't Flush Articles for Sewage Grinder Pumps, Toilets, Septic Systems, Drains

...


Continue reading at WATER SOFTENER IMPACT on SEPTIC or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST

Suggested citation for this web page

WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to SEPTIC TANKS

Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman