Septic Safe Cleaners

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.)

simple green

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.


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.)

The word “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”
Stop, look, and smell!
A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems 11
are terms created by advertisers to sell products.)

About Rhi

Rhi enjoys spending time with her family and working on the homestead. During spring and summer she is often found tending to her garden, and mini-orchard.

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  1. Thank you for sharing this. I searched for some information on cleaning in our new home and found your article. We just moved from the city to the country. Big changes!

  2. I wanted to say, Thank You!!! Reading this has been sooo helpful and eye opening
    I already use Simple Green and the like and so glad to know we aren’t doing much damage
    To our field. I also read on another post that borax is safe. I never thought of it as a
    Natural product until I read the lable tho I had been using it. Recently I replaced my bleach with it and am so impressed with my clothes. It is also great for household cleaning
    So big props to Boraxo!!

  3. Very, very helpful!!

  4. This was sooo helpful! It’s a condensed version of a lot of information. I, too, am new to septic systems. The Lysol wipes were me best friend before moving to a septic, and I bought Simple Green but continued with the harsh chemicals out of habit. I love SG so I’ll give the harsh chemical away. Oh, I’ve never heard of Boraxo. So big thanks.

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