Most owners are aware that what they flush
or pour down the drain affects their septic system, but something that’s often overlooked is washing laundry. Although septic systems can handle washing machine wastewater, it’s crucial for owners to know how to wash laundry properly so they don’t end up with issues in their tank, lines, or drainfield. Before running your next load, check out these laundry tips to prevent septic system problems
like tank overload and clogged lines.
Laundry Tips to Prevent Septic System Problems
If you’re not careful
, washing machines can cause serious damage to your septic system. Review and practice the laundry tips below to ensure your septic system runs smoothly instead of ending up with an emergency repair.
Measure the Proper Amount of Detergent
It’s important to only use the amount of detergent and bleach you need because excess is harmful to the beneficial bacteria in your septic tank. That bacteria is essential for breaking down organic waste so it can be safely discharged into the drainfield.
Use Liquid Detergent Over Powder
Make sure to use liquid over powdered detergents to prevent drainfield damage. Powdered detergents use fillers or extenders, like clay, which can clog the drainfield’s soil and permanently damage its absorption ability.
Avoid Using Fabric Softener
Petroleum-based fabric softener makes clothes feel softer by leaving a film of chemicals on the fabric. Fabric softener can have the same effect as grease on septic systems and gunk up lines. Instead, try a plant-based alternative like white vinegar which is safer for septic systems — and cheaper.
Don’t Do Too Many Loads on One Day
Spread your laundry loads throughout the week rather than doing them all on one day because running multiple loads in a single day can overload the septic tank
. Too much wastewater flowing into the tank in a short timeframe forces the tank to release waste into the drainfield before it’s been processed, which can cause clogging and contamination.
Clean Lint Filters
Regularly clean your lint filter to prevent lint from getting into the septic system and causing clogs. Additionally, lint in your septic tank isn’t good because it contains non-organic fibers from clothing, bedding, etc. Since lint can’t be processed by the tank's bacteria, it will settle to the bottom. Lint and other indigestible material will form a thick layer over time, reducing the tank’s capacity.
Upgrade to an Energy-Efficient Machine
Energy-efficient washing machines use a lot less water than older models, allowing you to do laundry more often. Although energy-efficient appliances can cost more upfront, they’re worth the investment in the long run for protecting your septic system and lowering your water bill.
Brush Off Heavily Muddy Clothes
Heavily muddy and soiled clothes should be brushed off outside or in a garbage bin before being thrown into the washing machine. Avoid excessive dirt and grime from entering your septic system as they can create clogs and damage your drainfield’s absorption ability.
Keep Your Laundry and Septic System Clean
Emergency repairs are expensive which is why practicing these laundry tips is crucial for preventing septic system damage. It’s particularly important to be mindful when you have multiple people living in the house and dirty laundry piles up quickly. Review these considerations with everyone in your home to ensure they’re conscious of the dos and don’ts of washing laundry when you have a septic system.