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Think Before You Drain – Harmful Household Chemicals

Think Before You Drain – Harmful Household Chemicals

The phrase, “Better living through chemistry,” might as well be the anthem of the modern world. If we could take a peek beneath the kitchen sinks of every household in America, we’d find dozens of bottles of various chemicals used routinely around the home. 

Unfortunately, for those of us lucky enough to own a septic system, these chemicals can present a real danger. Our drains are not a “come one, come all” disposal method, and treating them as such could harm or even outright kill the bacteria in our septic tanks responsible for processing our organic waste. 

Additionally, these chemicals may end back up in your own water supply–a definite threat to your household’s safety.

When poured down our drains and into our tanks, these chemicals can rank in effect from mildly harmful, to harmful, to downright dangerous.

Mildly Harmful

The guiding principle for chemicals of this category is “careful and occasional usage.” Frequent or thoughtless usage of these chemicals will ultimately damage your septic system’s operation.

Bleach

For many of us, bleach is the cure all for whatever ails our linens. Nobody likes stains, discolorations, or off-white whites. But in higher quantities, bleach will kill the helpful bacteria in our septic tanks. 

Use bleach sparingly (1-2 laundry loads per month) and try to avoid the chemical as a shower cleaner. 

Toilet Bowl Cleaners

In addition to other chemicals, single-use or flush-by-flush toilet bowl cleaners often contain bleach. While grimey toilet bowls may be unsightly, a simple scrubbing brush should handle the issue.

Harmful

Chemicals in this category may enjoy regular use in homes with sewer access, but they should be avoided for those living with a septic system.

Drain Cleaners

Drain cleaners wouldn’t be very effective without the combination of harsh chemicals designed to dissolve clogs and chew away grime. It stands to reason that this potent chemical cocktail does not mix kindly with our septic tank’s bacteria.

Physically removing the clog or using organic drain cleaners may seem more labor intensive or inconvenient than simply dumping a bottle of the harsh stuff down the drain, but when compared to septic replacements or repairs, it’s a small price to pay for the continued operation of your household.

Antibacterials

This entry comes as something of a no brainer, really. While we tend to regard all bacteria as gross or harmful, our homes, our bodies, and our world are actually full of helpful bacteria. Antibacterial solutions cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria. 

Antibacterial soaps and cleaners have no place in a home with a septic tank.

Downright Dangerous

These chemicals should be avoided at all costs. In fact, some or all versions of these chemicals require special disposal methods to avoid accidental poisoning or severe ecological damage–to say nothing of the harm they do to a septic system.

Oils/Gasoline

Toxic to bacteria and human beings alike, gasoline and industrial oils are especially noxious and may move beyond the septic tank and into the water table. These chemicals should be disposed of elsewhere.

Pesticides/Herbicides

Even if they’re designed to just kill bugs or weeds, these chemicals still classify as poisons. Beyond the damage they could do to your septic system, they may also toxify the water and property around your home.

Think Before you Drain

It’s not always easy to think in the long term, but flippantly disposing household chemicals down your own home’s drains is seldom (if ever) an option. For more tips on safe disposals, check out the EPA’s website here. To find natural or organic alternatives for most household cleaners, take a look at this list from Good Housekeeping here


For more best practices and alternatives to harmful household cleaners, call Economy Septic today!

Septic systems empower us to make our homes beyond the borders of municipal sewer systems. All we have to do in return is keep a reasonably careful watch on how we treat the bacteria in our tank and the land around our homes. For more septic safe care tips, or for proper disposal tips, call Economy Septic today at (256) 435-1086!