4 Items You May Not Know are Septic Safe

Flushing a toilet; a shower head with running water; and a kitchen sink with running water
Your septic system may be stronger than you think. (DepositPhotos)

If you’ve had a septic tank installed on your property, then you need to spend some time learning what types of items these systems can and can’t handle.

Many septic tank owners ask, “Are flushable wipes septic safe? What about dishwasher detergent and toilet paper?”

Well, that depends. While a well-maintained septic tank should last for decades, you could do an incredible amount of damage to that system if you aren’t careful.

Here’s some guidance, starting with septic-safe items.

White vinegar bottle beside a scrub brush and sponges
White vinegar and baking soda are safe for your septic tank.

1. Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Generally, you should only use cleaning products marked “septic safe” if your home has one of these sewage systems.

Many commercial cleaning products won’t damage a septic tank, but a few harsh chemicals might weaken pipes or even eat away at the gaskets.

When you can’t find cleaners specifically for homes with septic systems, you should get eco-friendly products. Most of these cleaners are made from natural ingredients that aren’t corrosive.

These include white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and salt, among others.

Yogurt and strawberries
Small fruits and soft foods like yogurt won’t clog your septic system.

2. Softer Food Waste

During the septic tank installation, the lead contractor should give you a full list of foods that need to be kept out of the system.

While products like animal fat and coffee grounds need to be thrown away, softer foods usually are fine. This includes foods like yogurt, cooked vegetables and smaller pieces of fruit.

If you aren’t sure about a food product, read the owner’s manual that came with the septic system.

Toilet paper
Septic tanks should accept any toilet paper, but biodegradable is best.

3. Almost Any Toilet Paper

Many people are surprised to hear that they generally don’t need to use specialty toilet paper if they have a septic system.

That being said, you might want to invest in biodegradable toilet paper so that your septic tank doesn’t fill up too quickly.

This type of toilet paper breaks down as soon as it comes into contact with the chemicals inside the system.

And that’s the best situation: toilet paper that dissolves into tiny pieces once flushed.

So, what about flushable wet wipes? Well, those may clog your septic system if you’re not too careful. Always look for ‘septic safe’ on the label, and when in doubt, bag them and place them in your garbage can.

Coffee and milk on a table outside
Whether you have coffee, tea or milk, relax! Because most beverages are septic safe.

4. Most Beverages

Septic tanks are filled with chemicals that quickly break down beverages like soda, coffee, milk and fruit juice.

That being said, be reasonable! You should never pour multiple bottles of hard liquor down your drains within a short period because the alcohol could neutralize your tank’s chemicals.

In addition to keeping an eye on what goes into the septic tank, make sure you have the entire system regularly maintained.

At least once every three years, an experienced contractor needs to thoroughly flush the tank and check the system for signs of damage.

How does a septic system work?

Those are our tips! Just follow them to prevent headaches and make your septic system last longer.


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