The Problem with Fabric Softeners and Your Septic Tank

As a septic system owner, you are probably very careful about what you flush down your drains. There are many products and chemicals that are off-limits if you want to protect the health of your septic tank. But did you know that your fabric softener may also be on that banned list of items? In your attempt to keep your clothes smelling fresh and feeling soft, you could also be ruining your septic tank. 

Whether it is in the form of liquid or dryer sheets, today’s fabric softeners are often petroleum-based products that contain numerous chemicals, emulsifiers, fragrances and artificial colors. This cocktail of chemicals and ingredients coats your laundry and helps it smell better, feel softer and avoid that dreaded static cling. Unfortunately, fabric softeners are just like other household cleaners and chemicals in that they can have devastating effects on your septic system

There are two main issues when it comes to fabric softeners and your septic system. Not only will the chemicals disrupt the septic tank’s delicate ecosystem balance, but it will also impair its physical functioning. Fabric softeners have antibacterial properties that will kill off the good bacteria your septic system needs. Most softeners also add nitrogen to your tank. This can increase the overall nitrogen concentration passing through your system, which means more risk of nitrogen runoff in your groundwater, harmful algae and potential drinking water contamination. Finally, as a petroleum-based product, you are essentially adding a layer of scum in your septic tank when you use a fabric softener. This can eventually become thick, clog the tank’s effluent and cause a septic system failure.

Having a septic tank doesn’t mean you can’t have soft and scented laundry. There are some “septic safe” fabric softeners available. Instead of chemically-laden products, consider distilled vinegar, dryer balls (instead of sheets) and essential oils to accomplish the same results as a fabric softener.

For more tips on septic safe products and habits, please call our experts at Metro Septic!

Posted on Behalf of Metro Septic