Laundry and Your Septic System

May 4, 2018

A common question we get is “how do I do laundry with a septic system?” We’ve compiled a few tips to help extend the life of your system and avoid common costly mistakes:

Spread it Out

The average washing machine uses 30-40 gallons of water per load which can put quite a strain on a septic system. It is much better on the system to wash one or two loads of laundry per day than wait until the weekend to wash all your clothes at once. All that laundry, shower, sink, and commode water puts hundreds of gallons into the tank in one day which can overload the soil in the drainfield past it’s normal saturation capability. (Especially after heavy rains!)

Use Liquid Detergent, No Powdered Products

The main reason we do not recommend using powdered detergents is because of the fillers that are used in them – usually calcined clay products – that will clog your drainfield. These clay products are actually used to seal soils and will clog the soil in your drain fields.

So what detergents should I use?

Look at the bottle for detergents that say “biodegradable” on the label. Detergents with low levels of surfactants are best. That way, chemicals and bad products do not leak into the ground underneath your drainfield and contaminate your well water, leading to high nitrate levels that are bad for your health.

Here we have compiled a short (not complete) list to give you an idea of laundry detergents and brands that are more septic-friendly than others:

Lint Filters

Sand, dirt particles, and lint particles can clog septic drains and pipes as well as the distribution system. Pounds and pounds of these particles go through the system every year and if let go, can shorten the life of your septic system. An in-line lint filter attaches to the outbound water pipe and catches the extra particles. Something like this can help a lot.

Even with these precautions in place, you should still get your septic tank pumped regularly, every 2-4 years or so. Following these steps will help extend the life of your system. If you ever have any issues, Bishop-Thiem Septic Services is always here to help. Give us a call if you have any questions!

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