When it comes to maintaining your septic system, there are some items that should never be flushed down the toilet or poured down a drain.

Hard solid items can cause instant clogging and build-up within a septic tank. Harsh chemical products can severely alter the chemical balance within the wastewater system and create noticeable odors.

As a septic tank owner, you should steer clear of using any of the following items in your home’s plumbing:

1) Wet wipes or baby wipes

When baby wipes are flushed into a septic system, the result can be catastrophic and extremely expensive. Hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of baby wipes float on the surface of the septic tank without completely dissolving. The wipes become tangled and interconnected, creating a thick blanket-like shell on the surface of the effluent water. These contents cannot be easily sucked up by a vacuum truck and must be painstakingly removed by a septic team, taking up their time and costing you more money.

In many cases, companies will market their wet wipes as being “septic safe” or “biodegradable,” but this isn’t always the case. Under perfect laboratory conditions, these wipes may break down properly, but you never know how they will react in your septic system. In fact, many companies have to remove the “septic safe” label from their products because of widespread complications from their use. Many class-action lawsuits have been filed as a result of poor marketing that labels harmful baby wipes as “biodegradable” or “septic safe.”

2) Cooking grease and oil

Grease doesn’t break down the same way that other normal household wastes do. Using your dishwasher, you probably know that sometimes grease stains can easily latch onto plates and silverware, requiring tough scrubbing to remove the residue. That same household grease can be a nightmare when introduced to a septic tank, clogging filters and making your system ideal for a backup.

From cooking fat to used frying oil, always dispose of this kitchen waste in your trash and never pour it down the drain.

3) Bleach

We all know that bleach kills bacteria and germs. But is this always a good thing? When we’re looking at septic tanks, the answer is no. Your septic tank is actually full of bacteria that aid the decomposition of human waste. While you should never personally come in contact with this kind of bacteria, it is extremely helpful in breaking down sludge within the tank and acting as a natural fertilizer in your drainfield.

Using bleach or other harsh chemical cleaners can kill off these bacterial agents, leading to huge increases in sludge within your tank. Not only that, but bleach will also come out the other end of the drainfield, contaminating the soil and killing plant life.

4) Trash and other solid materials

Never throw solid materials down the drain. Sure, we’ve all heard it, but does that really mean everything? If you want your septic tank to actually last, then yes, you should avoid disposing any kind of trash in your sink or toilet. As septic professionals, we see all kinds of solid materials that end up clogging inlet pipes, leading to premature system failure.

Some of the biggest culprits are: cigarette butts, cotton swabs, dental floss, kitty litter, paper towels, and feminine hygiene products. If you own a garbage disposal, then other food wastes like egg shells, coffee grounds, or fruit seeds should also never be washed down the drain.

At the end of the day, the only thing that should be entering your septic tank is normal wastewater. Anything more can cause a serious and costly fix that might keep you from using your sinks, toilets, or showers for several days.

Call your septic experts at Reliable Rooter to fix any problem you may be experiencing from a septic misstep above.