10 Best Detergent for Septic Systems 2022

It is common for washing machine water to drain into a septic system. Septic-safe laundry detergent doesn’t interfere with the functioning of this system. In other words, it doesn’t contain ingredients that may impede the system’s ability to break down waste.

You should always wash your clothes as thoroughly as possible, but to ensure your health and that of the environment, you may want to use hypoallergenic, natural, plant-based options. The best detergent for septic systems meets these needs while also properly treating the wastewater produced by your home.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Detergent for Septic Systems

Septic systems are used to treat home wastewater when it does not drain into the municipal sewer system, which requires monitoring and regular maintenance, even if it is in good working order. For instance, septic tanks should be pumped every two to three years.

It is important that users avoid putting harmful substances into their septic systems to ensure optimal performance. These include chemicals that interfere with beneficial bacteria that break down waste, as well as substances that can build up excessive amounts of sludge. Choose the best detergents for septic systems based on the following factors.

Powder vs. Liquid

As far as septic tanks are concerned, a debate exists between powdered and liquid laundry detergents. However, the content of the detergent is far more important than the type of detergent.

It is important to note that powdered detergents may contain fillers, such as clay or powdered plastics, which can clog septic tanks. Biodegradable laundry detergent powders do not cause this problem.

In addition, liquid detergents should be biodegradable. Avoid chlorine bleach and other harsh chemicals, which can kill the bacteria in your septic tank that are responsible for breaking down waste.

Septic Safe

There are no ingredients in “septic-safe” laundry detergents that can interfere with the operation of on-site waste treatment systems.

Use septic-safe detergents to maintain an optimal balance of bacteria and enzymes responsible for the breakdown of waste. Avoid detergents that contain the following ingredients:

  • Artificial whiteners and brighteners
  • Chemical dyes and fragrances
  • Chemical preservatives
  • Chemical surfactants, sulfates, and enzymes
  • Chlorine bleach
  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • Parabens
  • Phosphates
  • Phthalates
  • Synthetic foaming agents and thickeners

Among the best soaps for septic systems are low-sudsing biodegradable detergents that use plant-based cleaning agents. Essential oils do not pose a threat to the septic system.

Surfactants

Surfactants are amphiphilic molecules that are absorbed at the air-water interface and are known as surface-active agents. As a result of this absorption, surface tensions are reduced, facilitating the detergent’s penetration and soak into fabrics in the laundry.

As surface tension decreases, dirt is whisked away, and laundry detergents appear to lift soil and stains from clothing and linens.

Using chemical and petroleum-based surfactants can cause damage to your septic system by building up sludge. Plant-based surfactants are septic-safe and effective cleaning agents. The best plant-based surfactants are derived from palm oil, coconut oil, and soap nuts (soapberries).

Eco-Friendly and Biodegradable

Consequently, natural plant-based cleaning agents are recyclable and come in biodegradable packaging. Manufacturers of environmentally friendly detergents strive to not harm the environment in the production, packaging, and use of their products. Furthermore, their production processes aim to use less energy.

Environmentally friendly, biodegradable detergents are notably free of harmful chemicals such as phosphates, phthalates, 1,4-Dioxane, fragrances, synthetic brighteners, and many others. Instead, effective biodegradable cleaning ingredients are often derived from plants. Plant-based cleaning agents in biodegradable detergents offer hypoallergenic properties that are beneficial to sensitive people.

Concentrated Formulas

There is less water in a concentrated liquid laundry detergent formula compared to a non-concentrated liquid laundry detergent, so it requires less concentrated liquid to achieve optimal results.

It may be more economical to use concentrated detergent formulas since a little goes a long way. Users should be able to do more laundry with one bottle of concentrated liquid detergent compared to one bottle of non-concentrated liquid detergent of the same size.

Users may use too much-concentrated detergent because it is difficult to estimate the correct amount. Excess detergent creates a residue on clothes as well as a buildup that can damage high-efficiency washers. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions when measuring liquid detergent.

Our Top Picks

To help you choose the best detergent for septic systems, we compiled a list of recommendations including concentrated liquids, powders, and pods, as well as eco-friendly, biodegradable, and hypoallergenic options.

10 Best Detergents for Septic System Reviews

1. Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear Liquid

Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear Liquid

In 1846, Arm & Hammer’s founders began preparing and selling bicarbonate of soda, commonly known as baking soda. The company has gradually expanded its product line to include laundry detergents over the years.

The Sensitive Skin Free & Clear laundry detergent is free of dyes, preservatives, and fragrances while containing stain-fighting ingredients. As an added benefit, it uses less water than its predecessor.

Designed for people with sensitive skin, Arm & Hammer laundry detergent contains no dye, fragrance, or preservatives, making it hypoallergenic. The company participated in clinical tests conducted by dermatologists to verify the quality of its product.

Pros

  • Reputable, well-known manufacturer
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Uses less water
  • Removes stains

Cons

  • Some may not prefer its fragrance-free formula

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2. Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Laundry Detergent

Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Laundry Detergent

As a result of its plant-based formula, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day laundry detergent is both safe and effective. After 28 days, it is biodegradable, so it will not harm septic systems.

Its surfactants and stain-fighting enzymes are derived from plant sources, not chemicals. Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products are available in a range of mild, herbal, and floral fragrances.

Furthermore, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day laundry detergent contains essential oils in its formula and is available in five scents – basil, lemon verbena, lavender, geranium, and honeysuckle.

Pros

  • Biodegradable
  • Plant-based surfactants
  • Light scents
  • Company contributes to environmental preservation

Cons

  • Scents may be too strong for some

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3. Tide Purclean Plant-Based EPA Safer Choice

Tide Purclean Plant-Based EPA Safer Choice

The Tide laundry detergent brand was introduced by Procter & Gamble in 1946, and it has become a well-respected and reliable brand in homes throughout the nation. In addition to using plant-based cleaning agents, Tide Purclean is certified as a USDA Bio-Based Product.

There are several steps taken by the manufacturer of Tide Purclean to ensure environmentally friendly practices. It is packaged in a recyclable box with a no-drip tap and a dosing cup, reducing the amount of plastic in detergent bottles by 50 percent. The formula is also manufactured with electricity derived entirely from wind energy.

The cleaning agents, solvents, suds reducers, and water softeners contained in Tide Purclean are derived from plants.

Pros

  • Plant-based solvents and enzymes
  • Plant-based water softener
  • Packaging uses 50 percent less plastic
  • Detergent uses 30 percent less water

Cons

  • Scent may be too strong for some
  • Some users may not like the “eco-box” with dispenser tap

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4. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder

Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder

It is convenient and less messy to use a powdered detergent. Charlie’s Soap offers the convenience of a powder while also being biodegradable, nontoxic, and septic-safe.

Charlie’s Soap utilizes surfactants derived from plant sources to provide eco-friendly cleaning power. The formula includes washing soda along with other natural ingredients to clean tough stains such as grease, grass, red wine, and more. It is safe for baby clothes as well as large, dirty laundry loads.

It is EPA Safer Choice Certified, making Charlie’s Soap a safe product for people, the environment, and septic systems. Moreover, it works well on high-tech and delicate fabrics. Users with sensitive skin will appreciate its fragrance-free and hypoallergenic properties.

Pros

  • Plant-based ingredients
  • EPA Safer Choice Certified
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • Some may not prefer its fragrance-free formula

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5. Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Packs

Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Packs

A laundry detergent pod has the advantage over liquids and powders: it does not require measuring. Simply add an empty pod to the washing machine when loading laundry. The outer coating dissolves in water to allow the detergent to be released.

It is recommended that Seventh Generation laundry packs be used in both high-efficiency and standard washing machines as they dissolve quickly in both hot and cold water. The Seventh Generation formula contains triple enzymes that remove stains such as spaghetti sauce, coffee, and other sticky materials.

This laundry detergent is certified as a Safer Choice product by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indicating that it is safe for human health as well as for the environment, including septic tanks. In addition to being free of dyes, fragrances, and artificial brighteners, the detergent in the packs is also gentle on sensitive skin.

Pros

  • Convenient
  • Dissolves quickly
  • Safe for sensitive skin
  • Stain-removing formula

Cons

  • Outer coating of pod may not dissolve completely
  • Fragrance-free

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6. Method Liquid Laundry Detergent

Method Liquid Laundry Detergent

This concentrated liquid laundry detergent is biodegradable and safe for septic systems. Since the company was established in 2001, it has been producing high-quality products that do not only clean laundry, but also homes, bodies, and dishes. In addition, it is hypoallergenic, making it suitable for people with sensitive skin.

The Method detergent employs plant-based ingredients that lift dirt, stains, and odors from fabrics. Colors remain bright and whites remain white. It works well in traditional machines as well as high-efficiency machines.

As a cruelty-free company, Method’s formulas are never tested on animals. Its founders created the company with a vision to preserve the environment while engaging in social responsibility.

Pros

  • Biodegradable
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Cruelty-free
  • 6 nature-inspired scents

Cons

  • Scents may be too strong for some

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7. Biokleen Free & Clear Natural Laundry Detergent

Biokleen Free & Clear Natural Laundry Detergent

Biokleen detergent is a natural biodegradable detergent that does not contain fragrances, dyes, or pollutants. It is safe for sensitive skin as well as for septic systems.

Since the company was founded in the 1980s, Jim Rimer has developed nontoxic cleaning products that are safe both for humans and the environment. By combining mineral-based cleaning agents with chlorine-free oxygen bleach, Biokleen Free & Clear natural laundry detergent provides effective cleaning results that are environmentally friendly.

There are no residues left behind after washing with this detergent. The mineral-based cleaning agents lift out dirt and stains and leave no residue behind. Chlorine-free oxygen bleach ensures that colors remain bright and whites remain white.

Pros

  • Biodegradable
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Chlorine-free oxygen bleach
  • Never tested on animals

Cons

  • Fragrance-free

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8. ECOS Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent

ECOS Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent

A common cause of skin irritation is the use of laundry detergents. For those with sensitive skin, ECOS hypoallergenic laundry detergent may alleviate the itching and redness caused by other laundry detergents. In addition to coconut oil, it contains essential oils for fragrance along with plant-derived cleaners.

This product is free of allergies-causing chemicals such as 1,4-Dioxane, dyes, phthalates, and more. In addition, ECOS is pH balanced to be gentle on sensitive skin.

As well as being gentle on animals and the environment, this detergent is gentle on humans. Made from 100 percent vegan ingredients, it has been certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Safer Choice product. Furthermore, ECOS is manufactured in a factory that is carbon-neutral and water-neutral and uses renewable energy at all times.

Pros

  • 100 percent vegan
  • Dermatologist-tested hypoallergenic
  • Plant-derived cleaning agents
  • EPA Safer Choice certified

Cons

  • Scents not attractive to some

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9. Dr. Bronner’s – Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

The company that sells Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap was founded in 1948 by Dr. Bronner, a third-generation soap maker.

The soap is still made with 90 percent natural organic oils, along with more than 70 percent Fair Trade ingredients, which guarantee ethical working conditions and fair prices.

This soap contains all-natural vegan ingredients that are fully biodegradable and suitable for use in septic systems. The pure castile soap in Dr. Bronner is three times more concentrated than most liquid detergents, so a little goes a long way. It is suitable for washing dishes, household surfaces, and laundry when diluted.

Pros

  • Biodegradable
  • Certified under U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program
  • All-natural, vegan, organic
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Although labeled “unscented,” slight scent from natural ingredients

10. Dropps Stain & Odor Laundry Detergent Pods

Dropps Stain & Odor Laundry Detergent Pods

Dropps laundry detergent pods are formulated with nontoxic, sustainable, and plant-based ingredients to combat laundry stains and odors. With the pods available in four scents, as well as in an unscented option, the company promises to help users maintain their clothing’s fresh odor and remove unsightly, stubborn stains from fabrics.

As a result, Dropps detergent pods can be used in all types of washing machines, including high-efficiency models, standard machines, top loaders, and front loaders. As a result, the pods are safe for septic systems because they are free from synthetic fragrances and dyes, phthalates, phosphates, enzymes, and parabens.

Additionally, Dropps uses low-waste packaging for its laundry detergent pods. The pods are shipped in recyclable, compostable cardboard boxes.

Pros

  • Plant-based ingredients
  • Formulated for stains and odors
  • Packaged in a recyclable cardboard box
  • No synthetic dyes or fragrances

Cons

  • Pods don’t always dissolve completely
  • Store in glass or plastic in humid environments

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Septic System Detergents: How We Choose Them

Our research focused on how septic systems function, their proper maintenance and treatment, and the development of a list of recommended septic-safe detergents. In addition to reading nine articles providing background information and product reviews, we also reviewed the product descriptions of 18 different laundry detergents in order to determine which detergents to recommend.

Specifically, we selected detergents containing biodegradable and plant-based ingredients that can be safely used in septic systems. Additionally, many of these choices are hypoallergenic and environmentally friendly. Knowing that consumers prefer a wide range of products, we included both scented and unscented products as well as liquids, powders, and pods. Finally, we reviewed the brand reputation of manufacturers, focusing on companies with a strong reputation for high-quality products.

Frequently Asked Questions

When selecting laundry detergent, those whose home wastewater empties into septic tanks should take into account the health and performance of the system. Choosing the right laundry soap for septic systems may assist in ensuring their long-term maintenance and smooth operation. Read on to learn more about the best laundry soap for septic systems.

Q. Are detergent pods bad for septic systems? 

The use of detergent pods is not harmful to septic systems as long as the ingredients are fully biodegradable.

Q. Can I use bleach with a septic tank?

In order for a septic system to break down waste, useful bacteria must thrive. Overuse of chlorine bleach may cause these bacteria to die. Avoid products that contain chlorine bleach.

Q. What do I do if I haven’t been using septic-safe detergents?

You should have your septic system cleaned (pumped out) every 2 to 3 years or whenever sludge fills the tank to one-third of its depth. Start using a laundry detergent that is safe for septic systems.

Q. What ingredients should I avoid when looking for septic-safe cleaning products?

It is recommended that you avoid using chlorine bleach, ammonia, and phosphates. You should also avoid overusing chemical-based cleaners; rather, use biodegradable plant-based products instead.

Q. How do I keep a septic system healthy?

Inspect and maintain the tank regularly, including pumping it when necessary (every two to three years). Keep the lid of the septic tank closed, secured, and easily accessible.

The Verdict

As far as value, reputation, and safety for septic systems are concerned, we recommend Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear laundry detergent and Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Laundry Detergent.

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