The Septic System Dirty Dozen

Don’t Flush these items!

When it comes to septic treatment and maintenance, there are a few things that should never be sent down your drain. Flushing any of the “Dirty Dozen” items into your system will help your septic system last longer and save you a lot of aggravation (and catastrophes).


1. Grease and oil – Did you know that these non-biodegradable substances can clog your septic lines? Be sure to use a grease container to dispose of them in the trash instead.

2. Feminine hygiene products – These items can’t be broken down by your system and could cause blockages and back-ups.

3. Paper towels – While toilet paper is designed to break down in septic systems, other types of paper may not be.

4. Coffee grounds – While they’re not necessarily harmful to your septic tank, they can cause clogs that are more difficult to clear than those caused by typical toilet paper.

5. Napkins and wipes – They may be flushable according to the label, but when it comes to your septic system, they’re not. Just like other types of paper, these will clog up and cause problems for your system over time.

6. Non-biodegradable materials – This includes items like Styrofoam, plastic wrap, and cigarette butts. They can’t be broken down by your system and will just cause problems down the road.

7. Medications – These should never be flushed into your septic tank as they can potentially contaminate the groundwater. Be sure to dispose of them properly.

8. Kitty litter – Certain types of kitty litter contain a lot of clay, and can cause damage to your septic system if they clog the lines. Choose a cat litter that’s designed for use with septic systems instead.

9. Condoms – They’re made from latex, which doesn’t break down in septic systems. Additionally, the fillers in condoms can cause clogs.

10. Paints and solvents – These can contain harmful chemicals that can potentially contaminate your groundwater.

11. Bleach – This common household cleaner can actually damage your septic system over time by killing the helpful bacteria that helps to break down your household waste.

12. Hair – It can clump up and cause build-up in your tank and pipes, which can lead to backed-up plumbing. Save yourself the hassle by using a shower drain catcher instead.