Killing me softly… antibacterial soaps and your septic system

Home Inspector with NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Killing me softly… antibacterial soaps and your septic system Wenatchee Home Inspections

It is the flu season and we should be washing our hands regularly. This is good hygiene but there may be some consequences you may want to consider or at least think about if you are on a septic system.

                                                         Antibacterial Soap Wenatchee Home Inspection

The overuse of antibacterial soaps along with other habits maybe destroying the ability of the septic system to properly function.

To achieve proper treatment your septic system is very dependent on millions of naturally occurring bacteria. Bacteria are the machinery that is responsible for breaking down wastes we put into the system. We add many of these good bacteria through the wastes and materials typically found in wastewater. Anaerobic bacteria in the septic tank decomposes organic materials in the wastewater. Aerobic bacteria in the soil can destroy disease-causing pathogens.

Now with the use of “antibacterial," "disinfectant," or "sanitizing" products so common in many household soaps and disinfectants we can actually be destroying good as well as bad bacteria in the treatment system.

                             Bacteria Chelan Home Inspection

Normal use amounts of these products will destroy some beneficial bacteria but the population should remain sufficient and recover quickly enough to not cause significant treatment problems. Excessive use of these products in the home can cause significant and even total destruction of the beneficial bacterial population. Often the use of a single product or single application will not cause major problems but the accumulative affect of many products and many uses throughout the home may add up to an excessive total and this can cause problems.

Remember septic systems are very dependent on bacterium to do the dirty work as we say. So the limited use of these products in your septic system will help ensure that you do not actually cause harm to the functionality of the system.

Some other helpful ideas for septic system performance:

  • Do not use ‘every flush’ toilet bowl cleaners
  • Minimize the amount of hair, grease, and food particles that goes down the drain.
  • Reduce use of cleaners by doing more scrubbing with less cleanser.
  • Use the minimum amount of soap, detergent and bleach necessary to do the job. Frequent use of detergents with bleach additives can cause excessive amounts of bleach. Detergents should be concentrated, low-sudsing, low (or no)-phosphate, and bio-degradable.  Any type of septic system should use liquid detergents.
  • Spread laundry use over the week rather than many loads on one day.
  • Route chlorine-treated water from swimming pools and hot-tubs outside of the septic system
  • Dispose of all solvents, paints, antifreeze, and chemicals through local recycling and hazardous waste channels
  • Do not flush unwanted prescription or over the counter medications down the toilet

“If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

Red Adair

NCW Home Inspections, LLC  is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service                                               509-670-9572


Re-Blogged 6 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Scott Nowling 02/02/2013 12:19 AM
  2. Susan Emo 02/02/2013 12:41 AM
  3. Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor® 02/02/2013 03:26 AM
  4. Sherry Scales 02/02/2013 08:41 AM
  5. Mark Loewenberg 02/02/2013 11:02 AM
  6. Les & Sarah Oswald 02/02/2013 11:48 AM
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Scott Nowling
Prudential Starck - Saint Charles, IL
Prudential Starck
Great thing to bring to our attention. Hadn't really thought about this!
Feb 02, 2013 12:15 AM #10
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Donald, that is a really good thing to think about.  Out here in the country, everyone has a septic system.  This could be something that many people are blindly contributing to without a clue.

Feb 02, 2013 12:17 AM #11
Scott Larson
BHHS/Utah Properties - Park City, UT
Park City, Utah Real Estate News

Donald, I have a septic system myself so this relates to me as well as my clients.  I remember when we built our house my wife wanted to put in a leach field twice the size of what was recommended.  I don't know if that really did anything or not, but it made her feel better.

Feb 02, 2013 12:36 AM #12
Jimmy Faulkner
Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage - Wantagh, NY
The Best Of St. Augustine

Thanks for the great info. It is important for all of us to know. It is a changing world.

Feb 02, 2013 12:36 AM #13
Chuck Mixon
The Keyes Company - Cutler Bay, FL
Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR

Very good information. nere gave it much thought.

Feb 02, 2013 02:36 AM #14
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Don, I look forward to the day---the planet probably looks forward to the day---when there are no more septic systems :)

Feb 02, 2013 03:39 AM #15
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Scott, Thanks

Mike, It can be. I have been on septic systems for many years and had no major issues but I was always pretty easy on them.

Scott L, If the leach field is designed right and the system is used right they work pretty well.

Jimmy, Thank you

Chuck, It is easy not to give it much thought.

Charlie, sometime its either that or an outhouse ; )

Feb 02, 2013 07:47 AM #16
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

When you flush something down the drain with a septic system it's your problem. People don't usually realize this till the first time it needs to be pumped out or a problem shows up.

Feb 02, 2013 07:53 AM #17
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M
Donald - Good information for those with septic systems who don't know what they need to do to keep their system running.
Feb 02, 2013 09:18 AM #18
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Absolutely agree with Lenn!! I won't use antibacterial products in my house. Not only do they kill bad germs but good bacteria, that we need, as well. Consistent use of these products can cause fungal infections. I'm not a doctor, but this can be verified.

Feb 02, 2013 09:47 AM #19
Les & Sarah Oswald
Realty One Group - Eastvale, CA
Broker, Realtor and Investor

Very informative source of information that needs to be shared. Reblogged............

Feb 02, 2013 11:50 AM #20
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Don -- this applies, though less importantly to those who are are sewer systems, because the more people who use these products, the more additives the system maintenance people have to add to keep things progressing - thus raising the price of the process.

Feb 02, 2013 02:28 PM #21
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I also suggest no Drano or other super-lye drain cleaners.  That is an excellent list up there Don!  Most people with septics don't consider those things, and are suprised to hear it on home inspections.

Feb 02, 2013 08:17 PM #22
Robert Sole
REM Inspections LLC - Winter Springs, FL

Many people who buy a home with a septic system have been used to dumping things down the drain on a public sewer system and have no idea how a septic system works.  They do not realise the problems they are creating when using these chemicals.  What they need to understand is that they have a waste water treatment plant in their yard that does a great job but only if they treat it right.

The rest of you should realize that the same things that cause problems with a septic tank are also causing these problems to the public system.  They have to  do a lot of extra work to make their systems work properly when chemicals are dumped in the drains of homes.  The difference is that there is someone constantly monitoring the system so they know when there is a problem.  On a septic system you find out there is a problem when the drains in the house back up.


Good information Don.

Feb 02, 2013 10:24 PM #23
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Rob, True. Here all homes sold have to be pumped and certified.

Christine, Thanks

Jill, Like many things over use is just not good.

Sarah and Lee, Thank you.

Steven, That is actually true. It can be hard on municipal treatment facilities.

Jay, The liquid drain cleaners are bad on septic and old plumbing.

Robert, That is so true. If people really knew what went on at the public works they may think a little different.

Feb 03, 2013 01:51 AM #24
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Septic system or not, loose the antibacterial and antiseptic products in your daily life. Soap and hot water work just fine and are 'green'. 'Anti's just make the bug populations stronger and more resistant, something we just don't need. Super bugs wern't just born, we made them.

Feb 03, 2013 10:40 AM #25
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Robert, That is true. We have been creating much stronger bugs. They have been at this game a while and learning to cope ;)

Feb 04, 2013 11:02 PM #26
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

I have lived on a septic most of my life and I haven't really thought about the antibacterial part - I love the other list as well, thanks! -Kasey

Feb 05, 2013 12:36 PM #27
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Kasey, Thank you. Yeah it is one of those things that most do not put thought to.

Feb 05, 2013 10:28 PM #28
Jeremy Wrenn
Wrenn Home Improvements - Wake Forest, NC
President, Wrenn Home Improvements

Donald, being on city sewer system I had no idea the things that one must do to maintain a septic system.  Wow!

Good post, and love the song tie-in for the title.  Very nicely done, especially with the "soft" soap.  Bam!

Feb 08, 2013 12:03 AM #29
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