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Septic tanks ... which detergents and cleaning products suitable?

(22 Posts)
Sweepingchange Mon 06-Mar-17 13:57:46

Hello, I should probably be posting this in "housekeeping" but will try here first... .

We have recently bought a very delapidated farmhouse and inherited a septic tank. Someone along the line told us not to use bleach in the lav. Is that right? However, the lav bowl below the water line is very brown and yucky (nowt nasty - water discolouration) and I don't know how to get rid of it without using a strong detergent.

Also, at some point further along in the renovation process, we are thinking of installing a washing machine and dishwasher. I have no idea at this point if they will expell their contents in to the septic tank or elsewhere, but if the former, do we need to use special eco-brand detergents for them too? Or do special products exist for septic tanks?

Sorry to be so thick about this - instructions to septic tank are long gone - and I've never not been on mains sewage up until now.

Any other advice or tips about septic tanks gratefully received too!

Sweepingchange Mon 06-Mar-17 15:29:46


(I know it's not the most scintillating of subjects ...)

Wishiwasmoiradingle2017 Mon 06-Mar-17 15:34:10

A friend has one - no bleach but toilet cleaner is fine. . She uses ordinary washing powder(lidl) and softener (comfort /lenor etc) .

Sweepingchange Mon 06-Mar-17 18:03:34

Thank you WishIwasmoira we are obviously going to get the entire system checked out - and if necessary updated - but that is useful to know in the meantime.

Honu Mon 06-Mar-17 18:47:28

Hi SC - my specialist subject, didn't you know?
We had a septic tank for 35 years and I was gutted when we realised all the ground levelling we did for the new extension meant the septic tank was too far uphill and to continue using it would have involved a holding tank and a pump and loads of money. So we went on the mains - so boring.
I tend to be fairly eco-friendly and use bleach sparingly. We have a dishwasher and washing machine - all no problems. BUT - we live on chalk so water drains easily and also a lot of our surface water went into the septic tank, meaning that any chemical nasties were well diluted. We had it cleared out every 5 or 6 years but it never really needed it even then. Our friends a couple of miles away are on clay and they had a party when the main sewer came through as they cosseted their septic tank, unlike our careless lack of attention, and it repaid them with permanent sulks and blockages. They were so pleased to fill theirs in. Basically it's like your gut - you have to keep its little bugs happy.

Sweepingchange Mon 06-Mar-17 18:58:17

Bloomin 'eck Honu you are a veritable fount of wisdom! (And not only about the teaching of maths!!)

Thank you so much for this info - much appreciated - although slightly worried now as we are on marshland rather than clay which is very boggy and not free draining at all! Having said that, the whole thing is going to undergo an inspection and overhaul as no point in spending money on renovations only to find that the lav doesn't function properly!

Thanks again and lovely to "speak" as it were! smile

specialsubject Fri 10-Mar-17 12:14:40

We also have one that despite regular checks never needs emptying.

Don't chuck bleach down toilets and sinks - antisocial anywhere.
Toilet takes body waste and toilet paper, nothing else - same as any UK toilet.
Dishwasher and washing machine fine but don't use cleaners for them.
Sinks - boiling water and vinegar if cleaning needed.
Toilets - clean with jif and a small amount of anti bac spray.

Thats it.

honeyroar Mon 27-Mar-17 22:30:42

I've spent most of my life with a septic tank, including the last 9yrs in this house. I use Ecover cleaning products and toilet cleaner, definitely no bleach. Avoid the thicker or quilted loo roll. We have only had our tank emptied once in the last 9yrs.

SimonNeilshair Mon 27-Mar-17 22:38:05

We have one on our house and like others have said we never use bleach. I tend to go for eco brands, but would anyway regardless of having the septic tank. I like the splosh products. Some harsher cleaning products sometimes will tell you if they are suitable for use with a septic tank, so it's worth checking the labels.

One tip I do have is that if you have a Belfast sink then Vanish powder (or equivalent ) does wonders for getting it shining. Just leave a scoop soaking in the sink for an hour then wipe..I accidentally found this out when soaking a shirt smile

Sunnyshores Sat 15-Apr-17 19:15:48

cant remember what it looks like now, but toilet cleaning products have a sign on the 'ingredients' label that says if its suitable for septic tanks. Dont use any anti bacterial products, bleach, no coffee grounds or oil or grease. I use ecover and Asda do an environmentally friendly cleaner amd washing powders.

MrsAmaretto Wed 19-Apr-17 21:52:20

You can buy sachets of "good bacteria" online for sceptic tanks, you just pour it down the loo. We try to use products designed for sceptic tanks but aren't perfect.

My MIL is addicted to bleach and has always had a sceptic tank (60years), a couple of times a year my FIL has to pop a rotting sheep corpse in theirs to help the "good bacteria"!!

Sunnysidegold Sat 22-Apr-17 16:18:05

Bloo and parazone are ok for loos I think. I use method or ecover cleaning stuff . Apparently you should watch you don't get coffee grounds down the sink...sticks to side of tank and doesn't much coffee would that take tho?? Also heard it's wise to watch your water output if washing machine connected too...not seven loads of washes in one day.

Also if it's not been used in a while it may be a but whiffy.

Off to look for some good bacteria now!

Sunnysidegold Sat 22-Apr-17 16:19:02

Oh and if you're unsure about a product justbchexk the faqs on their website to see if they are suitable for septic tank use. Soda crystals can be used safely with septic tank too.

Sweepingchange Tue 30-May-17 14:17:20

Hi, I've just noticed that there have been lots more responses since I first posted about this. Thank you very much indeed for all the very useful advice which is much appreciated.

I have now armed myself with some Ecover products and with those and a bit of elbow grease, have got rid of the yucky brown water stain in the lav.

Thanks for you also for tips about washing machine use, coffee grounds, signs on products, and good bacteria. (And the Vanish tip!!)

shock about the rotting sheep corpse though! grin

Mumsnet is great for this sort of thing!

Sweepingchange Tue 30-May-17 14:18:16

Oh yes, soda crystals, too! My mother used to use those years ago! Will try and get my hands on some.

Lilly85 Sun 20-Aug-17 17:34:32

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

helpmum2003 Sun 15-Oct-17 22:07:17

Coke is good for cleaning toilets - just pour in and leave overnight. Cheap stuff is fine!

margaretp Mon 22-Jan-18 11:53:39

ON the septic tank subject, ours having failed miserably last week, I suspected that the 4 loads of washing with bio washing liquid with a consequent water outage caused the problem. We are told no bio products, no bleach, and that our system has had problem with Ecover due to foaming with other people, I don't use Ecover so have not tested this. So non bio wash liquid from now on, the Tesco version of Method is cheaper but the smell makes my sinuses sting!! So back to natural products!! Having said that I do wipe the shower with spray bleach as it has mosaic tiles but the water for rinsing is in a bucket and is emptied not the patio.

margaretp Mon 22-Jan-18 11:54:37

BTW ours is an oxygenated treatment plant with grey water going into a soakaway and on the whole is OK.

drinkswineoutofamug Mon 22-Jan-18 12:17:15

We have a house in a field (literally) in Bulgaria. We have a drain away, instead of a septic tank. A huge pit lined with stones, and the water soaked away leaving solids behind. It doesn't smell. Got told by the locals to throw a dead animal in there! I use their version of eco friendly washing/cleaning products.

I know totally irrelevant to what the OP is asking, but thought I would throw it in there!

Bowerbird5 Tue 23-Jan-18 08:31:17

Glad you did. It is interesting I have heard similar from Polish friends.

We have a shared tank. No mains here.

I very occasionally use a harsher cleaner but mostly just keep toilet clean each day that way you don't have the problem. I probably would have stuck a little in as a one off. To eradicate the problem in the beginning and no more. Ecover is good but we found that it caused problems with the seal on our washing machine. It took a while and two new seals to work out. It was slimy and leaving black marks but we were having problems with the water after floods and thought it was to do with that at first. How have others found it? What alternatives do you buy?
We get ours emptied two or three times a year. Depending how busy the pub is!

Goosegettingfat Fri 23-Mar-18 18:41:49

Marga your septic tank won't be affected by the detergent you use- it only takes waste water from the loo.

Same here- use ecover loo cleaner or white vinegar in a spray for cleaning generally. Hideous brown stains can be zapped by emptying a big bottle of cheap, own brand, full fat coke down the loo and leaving it overnight or, even better, 48hrs if you have more than one loo.

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