Home Maintenance Tips

By controlling water use, selecting appropriate products, and making wise disposal decisions, the homeowner can improve performance of the septic system and avoid major problems!


  • Reduce use of drain cleaners by minimizing the amount of hair that goes down the drain.
  • Limit use of antibacterial soap.
  • Reduce use of cleaners by doing more scrubbing with less cleaner.
  • Take short to moderate length showers instead of tub baths. Showers use less water than tub baths.
  • Do not flush facial tissues, paper towels, cigarette butts, or personal hygiene products down the toilet.
  • Do not dispose of unwanted prescription or over the counter medications in the septic system.
  • Use moderate amounts of toilet paper. Toilet paper should break up easily in water.
  • Do no use "every flush" toilet bowl disinfectants that are placed in the tank or bowl.
  • Shut off water while shaving and brushing teeth (save up to 5 gallons per minute).
  • Fill basin to wash hands instead of washing under running water.
  • Do not run the hot water in the shower to warm the bathroom.
  • Shut off water in the shower while lathering and shampooing.
  • Repair leaky faucets and toilets immediately.
  • Install low-flow showerheads.
  • Take shorter showers


  • Distribute wash loads evenly throughout the week to avoid overloading the system with large volumes of water in a short period of time.
  • Use the minimum amount of detergent or bleach necessary to do the job. This is often less than suggested by manufacturers.
  • Use liquid detergents (powdered detergents may add fine particles to the sludge accumulation in the tank.)
  • Use a water/suds-saving, top-loading washing machine to reduce water and detergent useUse highly biodegradable powdered detergents if liquid detergents are undesirable.
  • Select a front-loading washing machine which may use 40 to 65% less water.
  • Use laundry detergents that do not contain phosphates or bleaches.
  • Wash only full loads. Adjust load level settings for small loads.
  • Install filter on washer to remove lint.


  • When using drinking water treatment devices, be sure there is a shutoff valve so the system doesn't run continuously when the reservoir is full. Some units may reject up to 8 gallons for every gallon retained.
  • Use minimal amounts of mild cleaners as needed only.
  • Do not use a garbage disposal or dispose of vegetables, meat, fat, oil, coffee grounds, and other undigested food products in the septic system. (Use composting or garbage service.)
  • Use the minimum amount of soap necessary to do the job, often less than suggested by manufacturers.
  • Reduce the use of drain cleaners by minimizing the amount of grease and food that go down the drain.
  • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap every time to get cool water. Install low-water-use dishwasher, use liquid detergent in the dishwasher. Hand wash dishes in the basin instead of under running water. Use low-phosphate (0 to 5%) dishwashersoaps. Wash only full loads in the dishwasher. Limit use of antibacterial soap. Install low-flow faucets. Repair leaky faucets.

Basement and Utility Rooms:

  • Dispose of all solvents, paints, antifreeze, and chemicals through local recycling and hazardous waste channels.
  • Consult local solid waste officials for proper methods. These materials kill valuable bacteria in the system and may pass through to contaminate drinking water.
  • Install a water meter to monitor water usage.
  • Reroute the water softener and iron filter recharge water outside the septic system. It does not need to be treated. Recharge the water softener as infrequently as possible to reduce water use.
  • Route chlorine-treated water from swimming pools and hot tubs outside of septic system and away from drainfield.
  • Never let wash water from latex paint on brushes or rollers go down the drain and into the septic system.
  • Route water from condensation in high efficiency furnaces outside of septic system (to prevent freezing problems).

Septic System Maintenance and Management