Septic tanks function better when you select a toilet paper that is safe for use in, or especially made for use with a septic system. This is a guide containing toilet paper advice for septic tanks.
By Tere 1
What is the best toilet paper for septic tanks?
By Tere from Riverside, CA
March 14, 2011
In addition to really being conscious of using very little toilet paper (we use the kind from Aldi which states "septic safe" on the package), don't forget to use a product like Rid-X once a month. We use something called Green Pig which comes in packets that dissolve in the bowl. I make a mental note to use this on the first of each month. (I'm pretty paranoid about the septic system since moving into our home that needed many renovations including new carpet in finished basement. Our septic tank backed-up all over less than 48 hours after the carpet was installed - when it comes to the septic, you can't be too careful!)
We just bought a 1970's fixer upper with a septic tank, we are new to this and have been putting toilet paper for septics down it. Is this a mistake?
No it is not a mistake. We have had a septic tank for a number of years and have had no problem. You must have it pumped out every few years however. We do not use and certain kind of paper either.
Speaking from experience: first, have your tank PUMPED by a reputable service. Look in yellow pages. Roto Rooter does a very good job. Expect to spend $800-$1000 for this, but it MUST be done. We moved to my childhood home which has never been pumped since 1972. Voila, mid January, freezing temps, suddenly; backup. Everything backed up. Even the kitchen sink. The service told us this needs to be done every 5 years! Since you may not know when it was pumped last, get it done. Well worth the prevention of a tremendous, stinky headache. Ask them to put a "riser" on your tank to identify it. We had to have a microscope found to locate our tank.
Toilet paper for septics should be fine. Like anything, I wouldn't go overboard. Get a product after your septic is pumped called Rid X, which contains bacteria/enzymes that digest paper, etc. You use a little once a month or so.
It may be quite an expense, but as a fixer-upper, you probably were planning to spend money anyway. The $1000 or so it will cost will be well worth it. It's the first thing we did to our house before installing new flooring and a new ceramic stovetop. First things first!
ML Wallace (07/31/2005)
By ML Wallace
You should be fine putting any TP down the drain, if you're really worried about it switch to a one ply paper (like Scott's). I would make sure any chemicals you use in cleaning (toilet cleaner, bathroom cleaner, laundry soap, ect) are septic tank safe, they'll say so on the label. I don't think I've ever lived without a septic tank! The only special consideration we've ever made is to not flush anything but TP down the drain, no "feminine products" and especially no condoms. My husband installs new drain fields and septic tanks and condoms are the one thing that with clog up a drain field and septic tank more than anything! We also use Rid-ex every couple of months.
Being an older home you may want to have the tank pumped anyway if you don't know the last time it was done. It runs around $60-$75 depending on your area to have it pumped. Typically a drain field which runs between the house plumbing and the tank lasts 15 to 20 years. If you have standing water anywhere in your yard (and it hasn't rained lately) call a "pumper", you could have a full tank and a possibly failed field.
Good Luck and Congratulations on your new home!
We have lived with a septic tank since 1967 and have had to pump it only once. At that time, the guy who did it said it really didn't need pumped. If your drain field is in good shape, you shouldn't have to pump the tank. We only use white toilet paper, no color as that is harder to dissolve. Also nothing else, no tampons, diapers, etc. I do put ridix in it occasionally. (08/02/2005)
We live in the country and have septic tanks also, we had a plumber tell us if we would put 2 packets of yeast and 1 quart of buttermilk in the toilet and flush, this would keep the tanks working great. do this about every 6 months, so far it has worked, (08/02/2005)
Don't use charmin if you have a septic system. A while back I found a real deal on the cost of charmin and bought about a case of this tissue. We started having trouble with our toilets not flushing. My DH is a fix it yourself kind of guy, and he most always does a great job. He and our two teenaged sons decided to dig into our septic tank to find the problem. When they opened the tank it was filled with a cotteny fuzz. It was a messy job but they spent a whole day cleaning this "stuff" out of our septic tank. What had happened was this cotton had filled our tank and it wouldn't hold anything. Needless to say charmin tissue is not good for septic systems. We haven't had any problems since we switched to a different brand of tissue. Don't use any tissue that is cotteny soft or you will pay for it dearly. I'm not sure what it would have cost to have our tank cleaned out. I estimate a few hundred dollars. (08/03/2005)
When we bought this house out in the country, the previous owners told us only to use Scot's TP. I never asked why, but we've had no septic tank problem in the 15 -1/2 yrs we've been here. We've had a "sludge" company come out once to drain the system, but that was more on g.p.'s than any "need" for it. (08/05/2005)
We too used charmin and it was clogging our septic where it drained. Went to walmart brand and no problems since (02/18/2006)
A few months ago, we started using Charmin TP. We've had a septic tank for 10 years with no problem until recently. Our plumbing backed up, so the plumber and I dug down to the service cover of our septic tank. When it was opened, there was a pipe-shaped log of toilet tissue extending from the input pipe. Instead of breaking apart when flushed, the paper had set up. The plumber broke it apart with a shovel and the pipe started draining. No more Charmin for us! (12/18/2006)
I live in a rural area of NJ. We have a septic system here and it backed up today. The tank was full of mud and roots near the output from the house into the tank. Also, we found Coney Island Whitefish (condoms for those of you not from Brooklyn ) floating around in the tank. You should use Rid-X or something similar according to the directions on the box. Also, NO TAMPONS, NO CONDOMS, NO SANITARY NAPKINS, NO SANITARY WIPES OF ANY KIND, NOT EVEN BABY WIPES! If you have old yogurt in your fridge that you are going to throw out, dump it down the toilet. The active cultures help digest the bacteria in the tank. There is nothing like POOP and URINE backing up through your shower drain filling your tub! I never want to have this happen to me again. Good luck to all. (10/15/2007)
A $1,000.00 sounds like a lot just to get your septic tank pumped. I had my done a few years ago and it was only about a $100.00. I'd suggest looking around for prices before calling in a pumper.
Now I do live in Northern Kentucky and maybe things are higher around certain parts of the country, but a $1,000.00 just to pump a septic system. WOW! I need to give up my Doctors practice and become a septic tank pumper. (10/21/2007)
By E. Grovers
7th Generation or Green Forest ONLY! If it's made from recyclables and it'll compost.Scots will give you rash or hemorrhoids. (10/26/2007)
Just switched to a very good TP (Charmin Extra Strong). Best TP I have ever used. That was last week. This week, plugged the toilet, backed up into the shower, and overflowed to the basement. Went to clean out the septic, it was full of water. I opened the door to the first clean out in the tank, I found a Lincoln Log of toilet paper. Back to one-ply for us. $250 in IA to have the 1000 gal tank pumped. I do it about every 4 years just to be safe. (12/06/2007)
I made same mistake, city boy all my life, didn't think anything of it, used Charmin that we got on sale, and 2 months after we bought our house, line plugged and had back up on Christmas Day! Company cleaned line today, $105, and said that Charmin and Cottonelle are the worst, and Scott is the best for septic system! Live and Learn, I guess! (12/28/2007)
As a plumber and also septic tank installer I have about 30 years experience. Contrary to popular belief, experience is NOT the best teacher. The facts are these; Charmin is not for use in septic tanks. A septic tank will work fine with no additives such as Rid-X, yogurt, yeast, etc. The natural anerobic action will work OK. A tank MUST be pumped when it is about 1/3 full of solids in the BOTTOM to maintain proper hydraulic retention of the tank. (01/05/2008)
I keep a waste can just for tp used for # 1 only! (07/02/2008)
I dug up a drain field that was installed after the war of 1812 in Southern Ontario, Canada. The foot long drain tiles were about half full of black compost. I was told by the old lady that had lived there all her life that the tank had never been pumped as far as she knew. (08/04/2008)
There is a company online and is calling septic owners telling them that there is glue in all toilet paper now and none is safe for septic systems. BS. Only their yeast etc. can clean out this problem. MIN. 5yr supply at $195. I don't think so. as a Realtor for 23years in Zephyrhills stick to 1ply paper and NO Charmin! (09/22/2008)
By John P
I just want to let everyone know that we have used Charmin toilet paper with our septic system since 1989 and have had absolutely no problems whatsoever. Today was the first time I have ever heard to not use Charmin with a septic system, oh well, maybe one day I will regret it, but I love Charmin. (10/16/2008)
I recently had a drain obstruction from Ultra Charmin toilet paper. The water damage is over $10,000; I have floors and walls ripped up. I have done some research, found out that some toilet papers do not disintegrate, some do. I have done a test myself today. Took my Ultra Charmin, which did not break up at all for the test, then took Angel Soft, which completely disintegrated into tiny pieces. Also found out that you should not throw Kleenex down the toilet. The test is taking 6 sheets of toilet paper, placing them in a 24 oz. (mine was 16) container half filled with water, covering it, shaking it hard a few times, and seeing what is left inside. If you recognize your toilet paper as in sheets, that's what happens when it goes down the toilet, nothing. If it disintegrates, you have a safe one. I hope this helps someone. I wish I had known before. (06/19/2010)
I have a 3 year old home and septic system. The installer told me the septic tank should be pumped every 3 to 5 years. This is our third year in home with just my wife, her mother, and myself living here. My wife and mother-in-law know nothing, but toilet paper goes down the stool, so I wasn't expecting any surprises. I called to have the tank pumped just for the maintenance, not because I was having any problems.
The gentleman pops the lid and I hear him say, "Wow".
I said "What?"
He responds "You use Charmin toilet paper, don't you."
On the surface was 1 1/2 maybe a 2 foot thick layer of, for lack of a better word, "junk". He explained that Charmin does not anaerobically digest well and suggested using Angel Soft or Northern, white only.
My $125.00 quote quickly went to $250.00 as I have a double tank system and he recommended he pump the dosing tank also. Small price to pay compared to what could have happened if I didn't know about the Charmin thing. Just wanted to share. I hope this helps anyone else with septic tank or plumbing issues or questions.
By Ted from Marion, IN
It is true about the Charmin. Scott is OK to use. The reason Charmin is bad for septics is that it is thick and does not biodegrade. To test toilet paper, put a square in water and see how fast it comes apart. If it stays together do not use it. (07/21/2010)
I have stopped flushing any toilet paper down my septic and have 6 people living here, we dump the garbage in the bathroom every day into the fire place and burn it. I have not had to pump my 700 gallon tank for 5 years now. (07/22/2010)
Friends who were having their septic tank drained were told the same thing about Charmin toilet paper. We live in Scotland. (07/22/2010)
We bought our house 11 1/2 years ago. We had to have the septic pumped right away. The guy that pumped it said to never use anything but Scott. We have been using it all this time and have yet to have to have it pumped again. We even had my mother with us for over 2 years and a nephew for awhile and they could waste paper like there was no tomorrow! But still no problem. (07/25/2010)
Which is the best toilet paper brand to buy for septic tanks and which is the worse? We are hearing that Charmin does not break down like it should. I bought my house 1.5 years ago. It's around 16 years old. The previous family had thrown plastic Tampax applicators, Q-tips, condoms, a small t-shirt, etc., down the toilet. I had the tank cleaned last summer and would like to stay on top of keeping it in top condition. Thank you in advance for any advice.
By Aseret from Huntsville, AL
I use Charmin with my septic system. I have the tank pumped every 5 years and the guy that does the pumping has never said a word about the Charmin clogging my tank. I have have been in this house for over 25 years. (12/22/2010)
Charmin is the worst. Scott tissue is the best and probably the cheapest, too. (12/22/2010)
25 years ago my son did a science project for school. He went to all our friends, relatives, and neighbors and got a few squares of many different kinds of toilet tissue from them. He got a bunch of different jars, labeled them with the different toilet paper brands and filled them with water. Then he put each kind of paper into the labeled jars and let them sit for 10 days to see which one dissolved the best. Brands have changed a lot since then. Perhaps you could try this with some of the brands available in your area and figure out which would work best in your water. (12/22/2010)
We have lived in our house for 37 years. After the toilet backed up in the basement several times, many dollars spent on plumbers, pumping the septic tank, our plumber said to use Scott's and gave us a mini demo on how well it dissolves in water and how poorly Charmin did. Go with Scott's its the best and also not very expensive. (12/22/2010)
We never put tissue down the toilet. I use a small covered garbage can with a lid and empty daily. It is the best way. All my kids and grandkids do the same when they are here. (12/23/2010)
Last January our septic starting backing up into our basement. We had lived in our house for 15 years, and our county requires our septic system be pumped every 3 years. When the septic guy came out (of course it was a weekend) he asked what toilet paper we used, and we said Cottonelle. He said that is the absolute worst with Charmin being a close second. He also said to use single ply Scott. I have to say I do not like Scott, but it is something we have to do. It reminds me of the days growing up on the farm using the Sears catalog pages as toilet paper in the outhouse. (12/25/2010)