Moving into a house with a septic system made us much more aware of what goes down our drains. This was a perfect reason to get away from using the harsh chemicals we were accustomed to. Getting over the impulse to reach for typical scrubs, sprays and liquid cleaners containing bleach every time I thought something was germy or stained wasn’t hard. I’ve found alternatives that satisfy my need for cleanliness but don’t harm the break down process of the septic contents.
The new Clorox and Lysol disinfecting wipes and spray (since you let it dry and don’t rinse away) are perfect. No chemicals go down the drain but I can still wipe down the counters after raw meat is prepared and they’re great for bathrooms, too.
The biggest challenge has been finding “septic safe” cleaners that are strong enough for the toilet and the shower which inevitably gets bits of mold. There are specialized environmentally safe and safe for you companies that make cleaners with all natural, gentle ingredients but we haven’t felt the need to go to that extreme. I also have books in my library on making household cleaners and of course the cleaning powers of vinegar and baking soda. Again…haven’t had to go there, yet. We’ve been using Simple Green for the inside of the toilet bowl, showers, sinks etc. And lysol or clorox wipes for the toilet seats, counters, door knobs, etc. (anything that doesn’t get washed down the drain.)
We don’t have a garbage disposal so minimal food solids go down the drain. We did find a dish detergent that works well and is “safe”. Kirkland makes a great dish soap that smells great and is surprisingly strong when cutting through grease. We’ve strayed away from anti-bacterial soaps unless absolutely necessary for the same reason as bleach.
Another thing that I think has been mentioned in another post is that we set up our washer to drain outside and not into our septic system for the purpose of minimizing sudden water loads. We still use “environmentally friendly” detergent and vinegar instead of bleach.
We do eventually plan to experiment with making our own soaps and detergents. When/if that time comes there will certainly be posts. So much to do and so little time!
On a side note, according to the EPA’s site on Septic System Maintenance small amounts of household cleaners would not seriously damage the working bacteria in the septic tank. They also mention to use the products label as an indicator on the strength of the chemical. This info is pretty common sense but here it is taken from their website: “Danger” or “Poison” on a label indicates that the product is highly hazardous. “Warning” tells you the product is moderately hazardous. “Caution” means the product is slightly hazardous. (“Nontoxic” and “Septic Safe” are terms created by advertisers to sell products.)