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Making Septic Safe Laundry Detergent

Certain cleaning products are not recommended if you are on a septic system. This is a page about making septic safe laundry detergent.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

December 13, 2010

Is homemade detergent safe for septic systems?

By Jeanne from Hackettstown, NJ


December 13, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

I use Dawn dish soap for regular dirt and Ivory liquid for fine/delicate stuff, we have a "mound" system and our clean out man says ours is always in great shape. Tons cheaper too!

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April 16, 2019

I made 5 gallons of the soap and it worked just fine, but my husband said because it was made of powders and bar soap it will clog our septic tank! Is he right? It is a gel now, and I dilute it before using it.


April 17, 20190 found this helpful

Call your local plumber and ask. I would think your husband is at least partially right on this...but I am not a plumber, so I suggest asking an expert.


They will want to know every ingredient you used as I find it so odd that antibacterial soaps are bad for septic systems, even if they are I think it is more the make up of the items vs. that you will be using in a diluted form.

Post back so we can all learn! Thanks!

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April 17, 20190 found this helpful

You have to be very careful what you put down a septic tank. I would not do it.

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April 21, 20190 found this helpful

Yes, it is safe. Make sure that the water is hot enough to dissolve the powder and the soap. If they do not get dissolved they may clog the pipe on the way to the septic tank. This can build up over time until it completely blocks the pipe.


If that happens, the water and sewage will back up. Watch for the toilet to start flushing slower than usual. Before having the septic tank pumped, open the lid and look to see if the outlet pipe from the house is clogged.

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My husband and I have been making our own laundry soap for a couple years now, and we have never had a problem up until now. Now we are finding that something is clogging our septic system. So my question is is there something in the borax or the fels naptha soap that's causing this? Do we need to alter our recipe for the soap? Any help would be appreciated.


March 25, 20190 found this helpful

Your recipe is similar to this one


Are you using thick toilet paper for flushable wipes or makeup remover wipes? Those things can clog up any plumbing system.

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March 26, 20190 found this helpful

When my husband was trying to unclog it the other day it's almost like something is crystallized on the inside of the pipe

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August 19, 20190 found this helpful

We are new to septic tanks and I want share what we recently learned. We had the home 3 years. The septic was inspected before we completed purchase and drained. It was due for 3 year drain 7/15/19 and we scheduled it for 7/1/19. The worker kept asking if we use grease, like Crisco. After telling him no for a 3rd time, I asked him to show me why he kept asking that question. There were multiple white masses being pumped from the plumbing lines. I could actually see the drain jerking from the blocks it was sucking out.


I have made a borax base dry detergent for over 10 years but we never had septic tank until this house and were not aware that soap powder was a nono. There were also wet spots in the yard where the T had disconnected from the tank and liquids were not making it to the drain field. He said we were lucky not to have it backup into the house. We also learned we were washing clothes too often. 1000 gal septic tank can only have 1 load each day or 2 every other. I have switched to liquid detergent but I am searching for homemade septic safe liquid recipe because the detergent we have to buy is way too expensive. My son breaks out if we use detergent that is not free of perfumes and dyes.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

December 13, 2010

I am planning to make laundry detergent at home using soap, borax and washing soda. I read somewhere that using soap flakes is not good for the septic pipes. Is that true? is there any other way that I can make the detergent at home which I can safely use for newborns clothes, too?


Sweety from VA


Grated Soap

I have always used regular ivory or other white soap grated in my laundry soap recipe. My family has sensitive skin so this works best for us. And the clothes come out clean. This would not be any worse on your septic than using it on your body, I do not think.

I never used a special soap for my son's baby clothes. I just washed all of his clothes with ours and he turned out just fine. This was back before I made my own soap though. I was using All free and clear liquid, but it is very expensive. (08/08/2007)

By Wendy


Do you wash you hands with soap? Can the septic system tell the difference if the soap comes from your body or the laundry? You can use any type of soap, it doesn't have to be Fels Naptha. The ingredients are green and are often used in homemade cleaning mixes. They're probably safer than most store-bought detergents. (08/10/2007)

By susan


Pouring ammonia down your drains and running it through your washing machine and dishwasher will break down fats and grease that accumulate in drain pipes. It may not smell the best, but it will work. Ammonia will break down naturally in the septic system anyway. (08/15/2008)

By Larry

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