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What is the Best Toilet Paper for Septic Systems?

Toilet paper

If you have a septic tank at your home, you’ve probably wondered whether those “Septic Safe!” toilet paper claims are really true. Are all toilet papers created equal? Or is there a secret to what makes toilet paper safe for your septic tank? Just like those “flushable” wipes, most of which shouldn't really be flushed. What the packaging says may not hold true in practice.

When you flush your toilet, the contents travel to your septic tank. There, solids like toilet paper sink to the bottom and contribute to the layer of “sludge” that builds up over time. Natural bacteria will decompose some of the sludge, but the accumulation is the reason you need to have your septic tank pumped at regular intervals.

Logic would suggest that the best toilet paper for septic tanks would be toilet paper that dissolves rapidly into very small particles, to minimize the space it takes up once it reaches the septic tank. But there are other factors to consider:

Biodegradable Toilet Paper
All toilet paper will eventually break down inside your septic tank, but biodegradable types will require less water to break down and will dissolve much faster, making it a good choice for use with a septic system. Unfortunately, biodegradable toilet paper is not as soft or thick as more luxurious alternatives, and can be more expensive.

Recycled Toilet Paper
Recycled toilet paper contains fewer chemicals, like bleach, that can disrupt the natural bacterial balance in your septic tank. The fibers in recycled paper are short and break apart easily, so it dissolves more quickly in water.

Septic-Safe Toilet Paper
There are numerous types of toilet paper available which are marked “septic-safe.” Generally, this designation is intended to indicate that the toilet paper will dissolve rapidly. If you’re skeptical of manufacturer labels, look for toilet papers that have been certified septic-safe by the National Sanitation Foundation, a nonprofit organization that tests products related to health and the environment.

Still uncertain?
Take matters into your own hands! If you’re particularly attached to a certain brand of toilet paper, there is a simple experiment you can conduct at home to compare brands.

  1. Choose 3-4 brands of toilet paper to test.
  2. Place 4-5 squares of each into a large mason jar or other clear container.
  3. Fill the first jar about ¾ full with water. Replace the lid and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. This will mimic what happens to toilet paper after it is flushed and travels through the pipes and into your septic tank.
  4. Have a look! If the toilet paper has fallen apart into tiny pieces, you’re in luck--it’s a better choice for your septic system.
  5. Repeat with the other jars.

This comparison will show you how quickly and thoroughly different types of toilet paper dissolve, and can help you decide which is best for your septic system. If different types pass the test, then it’s up to you to decide using other factors--brand, comfort, or even convenience--what’s available at your local store for the right price.

Having issues with your septic system? Roto-Rooter can help you handle those too--Roto-Rooter professionals are available 24 hours a day to handle any plumbing emergency, whether it’s related to your septic system or not. We’ll get there fast and fix the problem right.

Give us a call at 800-768-6911 or schedule a service with Roto-Rooter online.

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