What Not To Put In Your Drain (Including an Alligator)

We put a lot of junk down the drain without thinking about it. There are horror stories about grease balls the size of small, electric powered vehicles gumming up the sewer system, not to mention the alligators. I am sure we would be surprised by the number of things that make its way to the water treatment plant.

If your home is equipped with a septic tank, generally they are what is known as a closed system and the liquid waste only leaves your property through a drain field. While all of the debris is trapped in the septic vault, the “water” runs harmlessly out into the earth as nature intended.

The whole process sounds all organic and incredibly idyllic until you actually see what is lurking in the vault.

On the upside, it is well within your control to have a nice, clean vault that will not need to be cleaned as often, right? Unfortunately no. Regular cleaning is necessary. Your septic system is a highly complex biological process that actually works through a microenvironment unique to your septic system. The cool thing? This process generally takes care of itself, unless of course outside influences are allowed to disrupt the process.

Many of us with septic systems are in tune with the biological process but rarely think about the items we are putting down the drain. This can cause issues if you are not careful. Aside from the obvious grease and alligators, there are a whole list of materials that should not be introduced into your septic system.

Cleaning Products

We love cleaning products in Fort Worth, who doesn’t? A run through the cleaning product aisle at your local big box store could take hours, if you stop to read all of them. Generally though, we don't read enough about what is included in our cleaning products and that can have a huge impact on your septic system.

Cleaners, like toilet bowl cleaners or drain cleaners, are a big no-no to put into a septic system, not only can they disrupt the biological process, but many can cause wide ranging pollution. It is best to stay away from these types of cleaning products, whether you have a septic system or not. The same goes for those little hockey puck, toilet bowl cleaners that you dump in the tank of your toilet. Stay away from those monsters as well.

Some of us use cleaning products daily, but what may work now, might be setting up your septic system for disaster. Cleaners like bleach and disinfectants can break down the delicate balance over time and contribute to septic system failure.

Dishwashing Liquid and Laundry Detergent

These two chemicals are almost essential for daily life in the 21st century. It is not often anymore that you see a group of women down by the creek banging clothes against a rock like you may have 150 years ago, (today it would be a SUP yoga class.) We depend on these chemicals to make our daily lives easier, but if you are using the wrong products, you may be making life miserable for your septic system.

Laundry detergent, for all of its seemingly innocuous makeup can actually be quite toxic. Your washing machine is, more than likely, one of the largest contributors of wastewater to your septic system in your home. What you use for detergent matters. Look for detergents that do not contain phosphorus or nitrogen as these chemicals are polluters in their own right.

Dishwashing liquid or powder may contain phosphates and for the same reasons as above, should be avoided. There are septic safe dishwashing and laundry detergents on the market and all it takes is a bit of research to find something safe for the environment and your septic tank.

AntiBacterial Soap

We love soap. Soap makes us clean and not smell like a sack of rotten lettuce and it is so important not to smell like rotten lettuce. Of course, with all of your well intentioned washing, you could be hurting your septic system.

As it turns out the soap some of us use, is actually too effective. Meaning that the ever popular antibacterial soap can destroy the bacteria that makes your septic system function correctly. Avoid antibacterial soap — because who knew?!

Food and Cigarettes

Back in the day, these two items went hand in hand as it was customary to light up a smoke after a good meal. We all had that friend in college that smoked but by and large the habit has gone by the wayside. Unfortunately, cigarette butts can cause damage to your septic system simply through their durable nature. They take forever to break down.

Putting food down the drain is a big one to stay away from when you have a septic system. In fact there are many experts that recommend, not having a garbage disposal when you have a septic system.

Together or seperate, avoid putting cigarette butts and large food particles into your drain unless you want to have issues with your septic system. Mixing mashed potatoes, corn, and cigarette butts will make a mighty fine emulsion that resembles concrete, not that we would recommend mixing any yourself, just keep them out of your drain.

I am Doing Everything Right? Why Does My Septic System Need To Be Cleaned?

Alas, it is not your fault that your septic system needs to be cleaned, simply the nature of the system. You see the bacteria may eat most of the waste but in the process they produce waste themselves. Meaning that, over a period of about 3-5 years, sludge will build up in the bottom of the septic tank and need to be cleaned out, no matter how careful you are with your drains.

At Septic One Septic Tank Service, we have more than 20 years of tank cleaning service under our belts as well as repairs, and troubleshooting. If you have any issue whatsoever with your septic system, please do not hesitate to give us a call and we can get your septic system back up and running in no time. If you do happen to discover an alligator in your septic tank, we may have to refer you to our friends at animal control.