When it comes to caring for your septic system, you can never be too careful about what hygiene products you flush down.
With so many hygiene products marketed as “septic-safe” specifically for use with your septic system, it can be overwhelming knowing exactly what is and isn’t safe to flush down your toilet.
How Septic-Safe Are Flushable Wipes?
An increasingly common bathroom product available today, “flushable” wipes are anything but. Marketed as safe for sewers and septic systems, these wipes are not septic safe hygiene products. Rather flushable wipes, though they are labeled as biodegradable, do not break down enough for your septic system and are leading to clogged pipes and damaged pumps. A phenomenon known as “ragging,” which happens when non-flushable products, like “flushable” wipes and feminine products, combine with other items in the pipes to create massive tangles and clogs. And a whole other world of issues is created once these flushable wipes make their way into your septic system’s holding tank. Because these wipes do not break down as much or as quickly as toilet paper, they build up in your septic system, adding non-organic material to the layer of sludge in the bottom of your holding tank. At best, using these products will force you to have your septic system serviced more often. At worst, these products will lead to massive clogs that will result in the need to upgrade or entirely replace your septic system.
Septic-Safe Toilet Paper
When it comes to toilet paper, studies have found that ordinary toilet paper – including those not labeled as “safe for use with septic systems” – does no harm to a properly functioning septic system. The tissue breaks down quickly, and its remnants are held in the septic tank, prevented from flowing into the drainfield by the tank baffles. The tissue particles eventually settle into the layer of sludge, where they remain until the system is pumped. At normal levels of usage, toilet paper does not create a problem. With that said, we have found that lower-cost toilet paper tends to break down more quickly than the extra soft, plush alternatives offered at a higher price. But even these break down quickly enough to avoid creating problems for your septic system. From an ecological standpoint, however, we do encourage the use of toilet tissue made from recycled paper.
The Toilet Tissue Test for Septic-Safe Products
Want to be sure the products you’re flushing down your toilets are safe for your septic system? There’s a simple test you can perform that requires nothing more than water, a lidded jar, and a little time.
- Place a small amount of the product in question – one square of toilet paper, one flushable wipe, etc. – into a clear jar and fill 2/3 of the way with water.
- Place the lid firmly on the jar and shake for 15-30 seconds. You should immediately notice the product begin to disintegrate.
- Place the jar on a solid surface and allow to rest. After about a minute, you’ll notice the particles settling to the bottom of the jar. If your product doesn’t break down, it isn’t safe for use in your septic system!
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