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Which laundry detergent do you recommend? When faced with a choice, most people will go for the one that smells the best—especially if it’s on sale. But you should also consider your plumbing needs when making a choice if you have a septic tank.
It is important to be mindful of what you flush down the toilet if your home is connected to a septic system. Complete decomposition of waste in a septic system frequently depends on a fine balance of microbes.
Incorporating toxic substances into the system disrupts the natural functioning of these bacteria by killing them. In order to break down solid waste and keep the tank from filling up too fast, septic systems must maintain a precise mix of bacteria and enzymes.
This equilibrium can be upset or the septic system clogged by pouring large amounts of strong detergent down the drain.
What Is A ‘Septic-Safe’ Laundry Pod?
Although the word “septic-safe” lacks an official meaning, it does mean that an item must meet certain standards. You may have heard chemicals can upset your septic system’s delicate microbiome balance. Similarly, nothing that could block its drainage system must be allowed near it.
Everything that goes into your septic tank should be biodegradable. Biodegradable materials feed beneficial bacteria and enzymes, which speed up the decomposition process.
We refer to detergent pods that meet the criteria listed above as septic-safe. Choose detergent pods with low suds production if your septic system is aerated. The germs in the system and its efficiency are only helped by using a few suds.
The Dangers of Using Septic-Unsafe Laundry Detergent Pods
- Clogs in your drainage pipes could be the result of components in these that don’t completely decompose. In the end, you decide to seek the help of a professional plumber to clear the pipes.
- Laundry detergent pods with a low suds production are best for use in an aerated septic tank. Clogging occurs when suds slow down hydrolysis.
- Toxic in water, septic-unsafe pods contain significant concentrations of surfactants. Such water kills good bacteria and enzymes in the sewage.
- Some laundry pods aren’t biodegradable, which means they do not add nutritional value to the good microorganisms in your septic system.
Apart from these, there is even more harm caused by pods that aren’t safe for septic tanks depending on their ingredients. Meanwhile, you can avoid them by looking for the ‘septic-safe mark/writing on the detergent’s label. Do not base your opinions just on marketing. Most companies don’t often disclose all harm caused by their products.
How Do I Solve The Mess Caused By Harmful Laundry Detergent Pods?
Not everyone knows about septic-safe detergent. You might be learning about it today. Well, if you’ve been using detergent pods indiscriminately and you’re asking yourself how to reverse the mess, you’re not alone.
What’s better is that there’s a way out. Here are some hacks that shall help you make positive contributions to the levels of good microorganisms in your septic system.
- Of course, the first step is to avoid using the harmful types of pods that you’ve been using before.
- If you have access to a septic system professional, you can consult with them about the products they recommend as suitable for use around the system. Most of them have a ready list of recommended detergent products.
- If you opt for the use of septic treatment products, we urge you to choose those that add good bacteria to the system. They’re always labeled appropriately. Ensure that you use one that suits the type of septic system around you.
- If you are based in the United States, always reference EPA’s list of septic-safe pods before spending a coin on any of them.
Please remember to use antibacterial detergent in the smallest amounts ever. Also, avoid ammonia-loaded and chlorine-filled detergents.
How To Protect Septic System
Avoid Using Excess Pods
The recommended amount of pods will dissolve in water without releasing excess cleaning chemicals that can affect the balance of microorganisms in the septic system.
But if used in excess, they will expose the good bacteria to lethal levels of surfactants, phosphates, and other harmful chemicals.
Don’t Overload The Septic System:
Before you do many rounds of laundry, ensure that your septic tank has sufficient capacity for the water that shall be released into it.
Laundry machines use a lot of water. If you do so many laundry rounds, you could be overwhelming the system. When you do so, waste will be released into the drain field before being adequately processed. Such can cause serious problems that call for experts’ intervention.
Use Antibacterial Detergent Pods In The Smallest Amounts:
But using them intermittently and in small amounts doesn’t harm the microorganisms needed for sewage processing. Therefore, consider using them in small amounts for the septic system’s safety.
Opt For DIY Detergent
DIY detergents are the best alternatives if you can’t find septic-safe detergent pods or feel too expensive. They usually contain biodegradable elements, form fewer suds, and are less harmful to the skin and body.
There are many recipes and ingredients for making them, but you have to stick with the ones that do the least (or no) harm to your septic system.
Pick the Right Style of Laundry Detergent
Detergent comes in three primary forms:
- Liquid detergent is the best option for septic systems. It can also be used effectively in nearly any water condition.
- Laundry pods are the epitome of convenience. Simply pop one into the washer—no pouring or measuring required. Pods are safe for septic tanks, but exercise caution if you have children and expect a higher price.
- Powdered detergent clogs septic systems because it doesn’t always dissolve completely in the washer. Over time, this buildup can lead to plumbing blockages.
Avoid Toxic Laundry Detergent Ingredients
Watch out for these ingredients that can harm the beneficial bacteria in your septic tank:
- Antibacterial products, including bleach, ammonia, and chlorine, kill germs on clothes. While effective for sanitization, you should avoid antibacterial products if you have a septic system.
- Phosphorous helps clean and remove grime from clothing, so it’s a common ingredient found in laundry detergent. However, phosphates kill the bacteria and enzymes necessary to decompose waste in your septic tank. Phosphates can also filter through the drain field, entering the surrounding soil and contaminating nearby waterways. Use phosphate-free products whenever possible.
Find Septic-Safe Products
Everything from body soaps and shampoo to dishwasher and laundry detergent flows down the drain and ends up in your septic tank. The key to avoiding a messy septic system backup is only to use septic-friendly cleaning products. Most products labeled “all-natural” are safe to use.
You can also reference the EPA’s list of Safer Choice laundry products to help you confidently purchase. With a little research and mindful shopping, you can clean your clothes effectively while maintaining a balanced septic system, saving you time, money, and headaches in the long run.
As a bonus, non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products are also healthier for your family and better for the environment.
We can help you avoid a septic tank backup and provide the necessary repairs to get your plumbing system back up and running.
The Bottom Line
Most detergent pods are safe for septic systems, but you still need to confirm that the one you’re about to purchase is labeled safe.
Meanwhile, you must also use them safely to ensure you’re on the right track. A septic system specialist can help you find the right pods and products to use.