What should go down the drain

Whether you are connected to a large sewer system or your own onsite septic the only things that should go down the drain are human waste, toilet paper, mild soaps and detergents. Many items can clog the screens at your community’s sewage treatment plant or compromise your septic tank or drainfield—even those that say they are “flushable.” To avoid damaging your septic system or community sewage treatment plant, you should:

  • Limit use of chlorine bleach to less than ½ cup per laundry load. Bleach kills the “good” bacteria in the tank and drainfield.
  • Avoid using a garbage disposal, as the microbes in your septic tank don’t do a good job of breaking down undigested fruit, coffee grounds, eggshells, vegetables, and meats.
  • Use the trash bin to dispose of used baby wipes, cleaning wipes, facial tissues, sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, band aids or bandages, cotton balls or swabs, Q-tips, dental floss, disposable diapers, hair, and paper towels.
  • Keep kitty litter and pet waste out of the toilet. These do not break down like human waste and should be bagged and placed in the trash.
  • Use an ashtray, not the toilet, for cigarette butts and matches. They do not disintegrate and can harm your septic system and clog your drainfield.
  • Use drain screens to keep hair, fruit sticker labels, and other small items from going down the drain.
  • Scrape cooled grease and other food waste into the compost or trash before washing, so there is less work for your septic to do.
  • Use a drain snake for plumbing system clogs, which is readily available at hardware stores, or follow this recipe:
    • Mix ½ cup baking soda, ½ cup vinegar, and ½ cup boiling water.
    • Pour quickly into clogged drain and let stand for 2–3 minutes.
    • Then flush with water.