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cleaning products if you have a septic tank?

(21 Posts)
itsallabitmuch Fri 09-Mar-07 20:34:29

Our new house has a septic tank. Does this restrict what kind of cleaning products I can use?

scatterbrain Fri 09-Mar-07 20:44:04

I THINK - and I have only just started looking into this - that most ordinary things are OK as they get very diluted by the water - but bleach is a problem. Specially if you put it neat into sinks and loos.

Othersideofthechannel Fri 09-Mar-07 20:44:29

We have one of those.
You MUST avoid bleach in the toilets/waste water as it kills the good bacteria that live in the tank and break everything down.
I'm in France and over here there's a special toilet cleaner (with toilet duck style nozzle) which is compatible. I'm sure there must be something equivalent in the UK assuming that's where you are.
Also, I have been advised to 'feed' the good bacteria with this grey powder that you flush down the toilet.
Finally it is a really bad idea to flush tampons down the toilet.

NorksBride Fri 09-Mar-07 20:45:45

I mostly use Ecover and other similar products and never use those scary paint-stripping type things. Our septic is actually a disused well so I worry more about chemicals leaching into the surrounding land than anything 'upsetting' the septics chemical balance.

I was told however not to use coloured loo paper with septic tanks. I've no idea whether that's good advice however as we only use white anyway.

You could phone the Council or whoever is contracted to empty your tank ??

nickytwotimes Fri 09-Mar-07 20:46:15

i seem to remember a cleaning product label saying "not suitable for septic tanks". sorry can't remember what it was. my folks had one though and my mum was a clean freak and i don't remember her using anything out of the ordinary. fat lot of good i am!

happy4 Wed 23-Sep-09 19:33:00

I have been told that parazone is o.k for septic tanks but it says on the bottle kills all germs! surely you cannot kill the bacteria in your tank, how does parazone differ from say domestos? help!

Millarkie Wed 23-Sep-09 19:53:39

We use Parazone - which says it's safe for septic tanks (not sure how it kills the bugs in the loo but not in the tank though) and the cheap (and nasty) Daisy range from Tesco is safe for septic tanks.

koninklijke Thu 24-Sep-09 10:56:00

there is a key difference to note- septic tanks just store the sewage and the run off goes into a nearby water course- yuck. they tend to smell very high in the summer and require emptying regularly (something my neighbours forget). Key signs that it needs emptying is that the run off is truly revolting- you'd have to look in the ditch, something my neighbours woudl never do as it would mean admitting that they are responsible for their ditch grrr....You don't have to worry about what products go into a septic tanks as there is no breakdown of 'product'- your only worry is what ends up in the ditch, so don't go mad. No towels, tampons, nappies, etc should go in.

Anyway- I have a sewage treatment tank where the bacteria breaks down the sewage and the run off is clean water and the solid waste breaks down and is 'eaten' by the bacteria so well that it hardly ever needs emptying. Septic tanks are now banned on all new builds not connected to mains sewage and sewage treatment plants must be used instead. This is where you need to be careful. You should not get a water softener or water softening tablets, any cleaning product that does not say on the side, safe for use in septic tanks etc (they say septic tanks ebcause that is what people recognise even though they are 2 different things) and you cannot fit a waste disposal unit in your kitchen sink. Things that cannot go down the loo are towels, tampons, nappies, disposable wipes, kitchen towels (especially bounty the stronger soaker upper) or make up remover wipes. Sewage treatment plants can however cope with the occasional inadvertant tampon dropped down the loo by mistake.

throckenholt Thu 24-Sep-09 11:05:31

actually the run off a septic tank should never go into a nearby watercourse - you can be prosecuted for pollution. In a former life it was part of my job to investigate such pollution. They shouldn't smell if they are working properly. They do need emptying every few years (depending on family size etc). If your neighbours tank is leaking into a watercourse then you should report it to the environment agency.

The overflow from a septic tank will drain into the surrounding soil through specially built drains.

You don't want to throw much bleach down into your septic tank because it will kill off the bacteria that break down the sludge. This happens with the mains sewage too - but usually it is diluted by the huge volume of water etc so that it does not have such a big effect. Once in a while is ok - but not on a regular basis.

JetLi Thu 24-Sep-09 11:33:30

I use Ecover stuff, and most of the Bloo toilet blocks/rim blocks/cleaner are safe for use with septic tanks. I bring Eparcyl enzyme treatments back from France when I go on hols there but I'm sure you can get similar treatments here (septic tanks are more prevalent over there I believe, so they're more geared up to it - I can get Eparcyl in the tiniest French supermarkets). I dose with the enzyme powder once a week and double-dose if anyone is on antibiotics as that can wipe out the whole "flora" in the tank. As throcken points out, they don't smell when they are working properly. We use normal bog roll, but never flush anything other than loo roll down the lav (so sanitary towels/tampons are bagged and binned - I use Pop-ins disposal bags - and we never flush kitchen roll, cleaning wipes, nappy liners etc.)
I keep an eye on the part of the garden that forms the soakaway from the tank. Signs that things are going wrong would be lush growth of the grass, lots of nettles etc.
We have the tank emptied every couple of years or so by the local council. On the plus side, we pay reduced water rates because we only receive clean water from the water company and they don't deal with our sewage. The council charges a fee each time they come to empty. They usually book me in within a week of telephoning and they do also operate an emergency service for blockages and overflows.
The tank freaked me out a bit when we first moved here but now I understand it a bit better, I'm quite comfortable with how to manage it. HTH

Millarkie Thu 24-Sep-09 13:26:56

koninklijke - our septic tank def breaks down the sewage, through a series of tanks and the liquid ends up going through seepers to drain into soil (not to run into a ditch or water-way). Cess pits are the ones which are just storage devices and need everything to be emptied and carted away (and shouldn't be draining anywhere).
We have our tank emptied about every 2 years but that is mainly so we can check if any maintainence is needed and in case any non-biodegradables have been flushed.
(And why should having soft water cause a problem - are the bacteria that break down the sludge really that sensitive to salt levels in treated water?)

Wastetech Mon 19-Oct-09 09:10:53

throckenholt is correct. If Septic Tank effluent finds its way to a watercourse, ditch, etc. even by accident, you are committing an offence and are liable for prosecution by the Environment Agency. Septic tank effluent can only be discharged into a drainfield soakaway, which has to be contructed to conform with Building Regulations.

Soakaways don't last forever as they eventually clog and a new one must be constructed. Unfortunately, they are very expensive and many people, not knowing the very strict legislation, pipe the septic tank effluent straight to a ditch instead as it is a 'cheap way out'.

We get calls every week from people who have bought a house, moved in, and within a short space of time the septic tank and all the drains are full of sewage as the soakaway cannot cope. Often it is because the house was previously occupied by fewer people, using less water and when the amount of water entering the soakaway increases, it backs-up.

Always check where your septic tank liquor goes - particularly when buying an older house as you may be in for a very expensive shock.

frostyfingers Tue 20-Oct-09 09:57:18

Septic tanks, if working properly, should not need emptying. At our last house we didn't empty for 5 years, and it never smelt or overflowed, and the drains never blocked. We had it emptied before we left as a courtesy to the new owners, it wasn't full! If you use the correct cleaning materials then the bacteria in the tank work properly and digest all the waste (yuk). Just check labels before you buy, they usually say if they're suitable for septic tanks etc, but definitely no bleach.

At this house, we do empty every 18 months or so, because we have a very low water table, and if there is a lot of rain it can flood the tank.

Wastetech Wed 21-Oct-09 10:17:15

In answer to Frostyfingers, it is in Section H2 of the Building Regulations that septic tanks require emptying at least once every 12 months. Every septic tank manufacturer will also tell you this. They design the tanks with only 12 month sludge storage capacity before settlement in the tank is impaired.

The bacteria can never digest ALL the waste. The organic material is reduced by about 70%, leaving septic sludge at the bottom of the tank, but the soil, from washing vegatables, washing dirty clothes (gardening, rugby kit, etc.)washing the dog, etc. is inorganic rock and cannot be digested at all. Soil and the sludge builds up in the tank, if the tank isn't emptied, reducing the settlement depth, which in turn reduces settlement - a vicious circle. The result is that increasing levels of unsettled solids leave the tank and enter the soakaway, causing clogging of the soil and the end of the soakaways life. New soakaways are very expensive!

The tank does not have to be 'full' of solids before it stops working - the soakaway will be ruined long before then!

Frostyfingers is correct in that it is very important to use the right products to avoid poisioning the bacteria.

In answer to 'Millarkie', it is not soft water that is harmfull to the septic tank bacteria but the water softeners regenerate water which contains massive amounts of salt. This level of salt will kill the bacteria. It is OK to install a water softener as long as the regenerate water is drained away from the septic tank

SepticSid Thu 21-Oct-10 16:28:55

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SepticSid Thu 21-Oct-10 16:30:10

4plus1 Thu 21-Oct-10 21:27:54

It is amazing what you learn on mumsnet! So glad I saw and read this thread. We are in our new build over a year now, and I did not fully understand the workings of our septic tank. I didnt realise there were particular cleaning products to be avoided until now. Our system has two reed beds, does this have any effect on what products to use?

Theazak Sun 30-Dec-12 00:37:50

I'm in Australia our septic tank is for the toilet only, our sink washing machine etc etc goes to a grey water tank which runs off into the paddock. So would we still be needing to empty our tank? Thanks you all for the advise on cleaning, does anyone use the eucalyptus or vinger and bicarbonate soda? This is good for cleaning but not that great for lime scale. Just wondered if this will be ok for the tank?

clarasmithh Thu 31-Jan-13 10:23:41

Septic systems require maintenance. For instance, toilet paper can be used, but some flush-able wipes cannot. Grease, soaps and cooking scraps may also plug up the front baffle or drainfield system.

specialsubject Thu 31-Jan-13 10:44:50

septic tank or not, the only things that should go down a British loo are body wastes and toilet paper. No wipes, no tampons, no pads, nothing else. Doesn't matter if it says 'flushable'. A loo is not the same as a bin and food waste does not go into it unless it has been through a body first.

absolutely no neat bleach - if you use this you'll need the tank emptied frequently as it will just become a cesspool. No-one needs rim blocks or 'Bloo' - these are just wasteful pollutants.

as noted, no waste disposal unit. If you live somewhere off the mains drainage you should have space for a compost heap anyway. Oh, and no coffee grounds either -bin those or chuck on the garden.

there is a little bleach in dishwasher powder, so do the mumsnet 'half tablet' trick. Clean surfaces with jif and anti-bac spray (the latter occasionally), clean toilets with a brush or scrubber and a little jif if needed.

5granddaughters Sat 01-Mar-14 10:45:40

I'm still learning! Can anyone help me decide how to make sure my tea towels and so on are hygienic now that I have a septic tank and can't add an antibacterial product to my laundry, please?

I wash towels, underwear and so on together. I have a lower temp wash for outer clothes and a very low for things like socks and items that either need a freshening wash or mustn't be allowed to shrink.

It's the tea towels that I'm anxious about. I really don't want to wash any higher than 40.

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