Toilet paper is mostly safe, it is designed to break down when in contact with liquid but tissue, on the other hand, is bad. Tissue paper is designed to adsorb liquid and not break down as well as toilet paper does. The same applies to paper towels and pretty much anything that isn't toilet paper. Just because you flushed a Kleenex tissue once and nothing backed up doesn't mean it's a good idea to keep pressing your luck. It could be slowly accumulating in your pipes just waiting to backup at the worst possible time, which is pretty much anytime when dealing with sewage. Plumbing blockages can be very expensive. Often the trouble area will be in a hard to reach place and you're looking at having drywall or even floors and ceilings removed to repair the problem.
A few more things that are best put in the trash.
- Food waste
- Cigarette butts
- Feminine hygiene products
- And generally, anything that isn't toilet paper
Additionally, the more of these items you flush the quicker your septic tank fills up with solids and the more regularly it will need to be pumped. That's assuming they are even able to make it to the septic tank without your pipes getting clogged up, as they likely and eventually will.
Cooking Oils, Grease and Fat
These three things are notorious for clogging up your pipes so make an extra effort not to rinse any of it down the drain. Common advice is to let the pots and pans air dry a little so that the substances on them harden and you can scrape them into the garbage with a spatula.
Be sure all of your drains have stoppers in them to prevent hair from going down. If you've ever had to use a plumbing snake to clear a blocked pipe you know that quite often when you pull it out there is a clump of hair wrapped around it that was a big part of the problem.
If you've read through some of our site you've learned a little about how the leach field works in conjunction with your tank. Now that you know where all the liquids you flush are going you can probably guess that we're going to try and persuade you from pouring chemicals down your drain.
Firstly, most household chemicals are completely unnecessary. The consumer chemical industry pushes a lot of cleaning products that aren't needed anywhere outside of a hospital-like environment that needs to be very sterile.
Secondly, many household chemicals are untested for long-term effects on human health and the environment.
Thirdly, many of those chemicals are caustic and over time can be damaging to your plumbing system.
Now that you know those chemicals are going directly to your immediate environment (your backyard) you may think differently about what you are cleaning your sink with.
A little extra elbow grease is sometimes required for the more-natural, less-damaging cleaning products but with that extra effort comes the peace of mind that you're not making the inside of your home and backyard toxic.
And if you're on a well? Well, we don't have to say more. But we will anyway. If you're on a well you are drawing much of the very water that filters down into your water table from your leaching field, complete with many of the hard to breakdown chemicals you've poured into the sink.
Here's some of the negatives of using unnecessary chemicals versus the benefits of cutting down on them and using greener products.
Negative - A few chemical companies may have to reign in their Christmas bonuses
Positive - Those companies will adapt and create more environmentally friendly products
Negative - You may have to spend a little more effort scrubbing that ring around the tub
Positive - Your arms get a little more toned up
Positive - Less toxic residue left over in the tub makes for less toxins absorbed while you bathe
Positive - Your well water isn't filled with carcinogens
Positive - Your septic tank solids will break down faster (healthier bacteria levels) so less pumping is required
The same goes with leftover medications, it's best to keep them out of your backyard and groundwater. Most pharmacies will take your leftovers and have a system for disposing of them according to the standards in your region.