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For the most part, your septic system can handle the normal amounts of household cleaning products, including bleach. Most people want to use the most effective cleaning products to keep their homes sparkling and germ-free. But some of the same ingredients that protect people from illness-causing bacteria are not good for the bacteria that keep a septic system working properly. Bacteria are necessary for a septic system to break down solid waste and kill pathogens that will flow into the leach field and, eventually, groundwater.


Household Cleaning Products to Avoid

Disinfectants: Large amounts of chlorine bleach, pine oil, phenolic, and quaternary disinfectants will kill the needed bacteria in a septic system. They should be used in limited quantities, following product directions and allowing time for the septic system bacteria to recover between uses.

Oven cleaners: Many oven cleaners contain lye and other septic-harmful chemicals. It is much safer to choose other methods for removing grease and food from oven surfaces.

Oils and Solvents: Oil-based products, such as some furniture polishes and leather conditioners, should never be disposed of into a septic system because they can smother the leach field. Solvents such as paint thinners, degreasers and nail polish removers also upset the balance in a system and pollute the leach field groundwater. Dispose of these products at a local hazardous waste facility.


Septic Tank Cleaners and Additives

Septic tank cleaners and additives should not be used to treat your septic tank and drainfields. The solutions include bacteria, enzymes and yeast, but the cleaners/additives do not reduce the need for pumping your septic tank or properly maintaining your drainfields. Some septic tank cleaners contain organic chemicals that may damage your septic tank, drainfields and contaminate wells and groundwater.


Household Cleaners

Avoid pouring an excessive amount of household cleaners such as bleach, laundry detergent, soaps or other chemicals into your septic tank. Your septic tank contains waste-eating bacteria and these cleaners can reduce the amount of bacteria present in the septic tank. The level of bacteria within the tank fluctuates and recovers quickly if small amounts of household cleaners are used. Over time, excessive amounts of these cleaners can destroy all levels of bacteria within the septic tank system.

“Nontoxic” and “Septic-Safe” means the products are safe for your septic tank, but follow the instructions on the label and only use the recommended amount of cleaner noted on the label.


Drain Cleaners

Do not use caustic drain cleaners to open a clogged drain. Use boiling water or a sewer snake to open the clogged pipe. If a sewer snake is not available or you do not know how to use one, contact a plumber or septic tank repair service.


Additional Cautions

Do not pour oils, fats or cooking grease down any of the drains in your house. Substances can cause issues with the septic tank.

Also, paints, paint thinners, solvents, pesticides, poisons and other chemicals should not be poured into a drain or allowed to be entered into the septic tank or drainfields. These chemicals can kill the bacteria within the septic tank and kill soil microorganisms around the septic tank and drainfields, as well as contaminate the groundwater.



At West Coast Sanitation, we understand the value and importance of a septic system inspection prior to purchasing a home. Our professional inspectors strive to exceed your expectations and help you obtain the essential information you need to make an informed decision.

Call us at (951) 780-5922 right away. We have professionals ready to answer your questions.