Antibacterial Soap and Your Septic System

  We have a bottle of antibacterial soap at every sink and even in the shower. Will using this type of product all the time have any effect on our septic system?

  It is the flu season, and we should be washing our hands regularly. This is good hygiene, but there may be some consequences you may want to consider, or at least think about if you are on a septic system.


  The overuse of antibacterial soaps along with other habits may be destroying the ability of the septic system to properly function.
  To achieve proper treatment your septic system is very dependent on millions of 02-13-02naturally occurring bacteria. Bacteria are the machinery that is responsible for breaking down wastes we put into the system. We add many of these good bacteria through the wastes and materials typically found in wastewater. Anaerobic bacteria in the septic tank decomposes organic materials in the wastewater. Aerobic bacteria in the soil can destroy disease-causing pathogens.
  Now with the use of “antibacterial," "disinfectant," or "sanitizing" products so common in many household soaps and disinfectants, we can actually be destroying good as well as bad bacteria in the treatment system.
02-13-03  Normal use amounts of these products will destroy some beneficial bacteria but the population should remain sufficient and recover quickly enough to not cause significant treatment problems. Excessive use of these products in the home can cause significant and even total destruction of the beneficial bacterial population. Often the use of a single product or single application will not cause major 02-13-04problems. However, the accumulative affect of many products and many uses throughout the home may add up to an excessive total. This can cause problems. Remember septic systems are very dependent on bacterium to do the dirty work as we say. So the limited use of these products in your septic system will help ensure that you do not actually cause harm to the functionality of the system.

Some other helpful ideas for septic system performance:

  • Do not use ‘every flush’ toilet bowl cleaners.

  • Minimize the amount of hair, grease, and food particles that goes down the drain.

  • Reduce use of cleaners by doing more scrubbing with less cleanser.

  • Use the minimum amount of soap, detergent and bleach necessary to do the job. Frequent use of detergents with bleach additives can cause excessive amounts of bleach. Detergents should be concentrated, low-sudsing, low (or no)-phosphate, and bio-degradable.  Any type of septic system should use liquid detergents.

  • Spread laundry use over the week rather than many loads on one day.

  • Route chlorine-treated water from swimming pools and hot-tubs outside of the septic system.

  • Dispose of all solvents, paints, antifreeze, and chemicals through local recycling and hazardous waste channels.

  • Do not flush unwanted prescription or over the counter medications down the toilet.

Source: AHSI Forum By
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