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 I had the sweetest lady call today with a few questions about her septic system.  Though she had lived on septic before, she recently moved and had a brand new septic system and wanted to know about using Chlorox and other cleaners.  We did a quick little “septic system lesson for beginners” and I figured this might be a good update or reminder for you guys as well!

So….here’s what we covered:

What kind of cleaners can I use in my house if I live on septic?

For the most part, you can use what you have used when living in town on city sewer.  Chlorox is fine so long as you aren’t pouring gallon jugs down the drain every day.  Very few people use enough Chlorox or other cleaners to disrupt the good bacteria growing in your tank.  The only people we get concerned about are those who might run cleaning businesses from their home and maybe even use those industrial or commercial grade cleaners IN THEIR OWN home.  If that isn’t you, then make your house sparkle using what you normally use!

What can I use for toilet paper?

As my readers know – the cheaper the better when it comes to toilet paper.  No quilted 5 ply toilet paper for septic.  You want toilet paper that will break down into pieces the minute it hits water and the more expensive, thicker toilet paper does NOT do that.  Also, stay away from flushing baby wipes or the adult wet wipes.  Again, they do NOT break down and they can cause clogs and back-ups in your house.

How often should I pump my tank?

The industry standard is every 3-5 years based on how many people live in the house.  The more people who live in the house the faster solids build up in the tank.  Typically, with 4 or more you want to be on the three-year end (maybe two if you entertain people frequently and you use your garbage disposal a lot).  If it is just you and your spouse, then every 5-6 years.  What we are after when we come pump your tank is the build-up of solids from poo, toilet paper and garbage disposal remnants. Every household is different but making sure you aren’t going 10 years before pumping is the key – more so than a set time frame, if that makes sense.  

What about my laterals?

Know where your laterals are located and then stay away from them.  Nothing heavier than a lawn mower or four-wheeler should ever be driven over them.  Hopefully your laterals can be placed in an area where they can just be alone and left undisturbed.  Their job is to stay dry and out of the way.

Always be mindful of water usage:

Even for a new house, being mindful of your water usage is a good plan when living on septic.  A water leak or having a bunch of people over for Christmas (or other festivities) using water all at once (showers, dishwasher and washing machine, etc) can sometimes overwhelm a system.  It isn’t that the system is malfunctioning, it’s just being asked to do more than it can handle.  If you see water pooling over the laterals, check for leaks in the house. (Hidden leaks: like a toilet that isn’t making noises but still leaking, a water softner that might be re-charging more often than it needs to, or a whole house humidifier, etc – these are often the culprits).  

If you have more questions about items like this, feel free to call me at 402-475-2462 or check our website at and click on the TIPS button!