Keeping a clean and sanitary home is a priority for most people. However, many cleaning products contain chemicals that are not only harsh on surfaces and potentially harmful to your family’s health, but they can also have a negative effect on your septic system. Cleaning with essential oils is a more natural way to kill germs and keep your house fresh, but it’s important to choose the right ones to prevent harm to the plumbing and septic tank.

How Do Cleaning Products Affect Septic Systems?

When waste flows from your home into the septic tank, naturally occurring bacteria help break down the materials. This keeps the reservoir from filling too quickly. The decomposition process also ensures liquid flows into the drain field, where it filters through the earth and back into the groundwater system.

However, when the waste and water entering the tank also contain chemicals from cleaning products, the natural bacteria balance is disrupted. Antibacterial substances, bleach, and other common disinfectants can kill beneficial organisms in the septic system. These chemicals remain in the water as they seep into the drain field, which can pollute ground supplies. Some chemicals and common ingredients in antibacterial products are also toxic to aquatic life.

Why Should You Use Essential Oils?

Essential oils derived from plants are just as successful as traditional cleaning products at removing dirt and grime and killing germs on household surfaces without negatively impacting your septic system or the environment. Some of the most effective options for cleaning include tea tree, pine, lemon, and eucalyptus oils. All of these can naturally kill bacteria, viruses, and mold while leaving behind fresh and clean scents. Lavender and wild orange oils are also useful.

You should dilute essential oils with water before cleaning to ensure they’re safe. Mix no more than a teaspoon of pure oil per 2-3 cups of water. They can also be blended with other biodegradable substances, like borax, white vinegar, and baking soda, to create cleaners that are safe for your septic system. Avoid using products that contain ammonia, bleach, phosphates, or petroleum-based ingredients to further prevent damage to the tank—even if they also include essential oils.

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