If you have a septic tank, choosing the right toilet paper is important to prevent clogs and maintain your system. But with so many options on store shelves, how do you know which toilet papers are actually septic safe? This guide will explain what to look for and the best types to use with your septic system.
Why Septic Systems Need Special Toilet Paper
Traditional sewers can handle pretty much any waste flushed down the toilet. But septic systems rely on a delicate balance of bacteria to break down waste in the tank. Certain materials can throw off this balance and cause problems:
Excess solids – More solid waste means less room for wastewater. Excess solids lead to early pumping.
Slow to dissolve solids – Materials that take long to break down take up more space in the tank.
Chemicals – Bleach, chlorine, etc. kill helpful bacteria that digest waste.
Using a toilet paper that dissolves quickly and contains no harsh chemicals keeps your septic tank functioning properly.
What Makes Toilet Paper “Septic Safe”?
Septic safe toilet papers have two key characteristics:
1. Breaks down rapidly
- Dissolves quickly when wet
- Leaves only tiny paper particles behind
- Takes up less space in the tank
2. Free of chemicals
- No chlorine or bleach from processing
- Does not contain dyes, scents, etc.
- Won’t harm helpful septic bacteria
If a toilet paper breaks down easily and doesn’t contain chemicals, it is generally considered septic safe.
Testing Toilet Paper Breakdown
An easy way to test breakdown is:
Get clear containers and different toilet paper brands
Place 4-5 pieces of each brand in a container
Fill with water 3/4 full and seal container
Shake vigorously for 10 seconds
See which brands break up the most
The more the toilet paper breaks apart and the smaller the particles, the better it is for your septic system.
Septic Safe Toilet Paper Options
Regular 1-Ply Toilet Paper
- Thinner and weaker than premium brands
- Dissolves faster than thicker paper
- Often not the softest or most durable
Recycled Toilet Paper
- Made from recycled materials like paper
- Shorter fibers break down easily
- No harsh chemical processing
Bamboo Toilet Paper
- Bamboo fibers break down rapidly
- Eco-friendly and sustainable material
- Often marketed as septic safe
“Septic Safe” Certified
- Tested and certified by NSA as septic safe
- Breaks down within a few minutes
- Guaranteed quality standard
Biodegradable Toilet Paper
- Made from materials that break down quickly
- Dissolves faster than regular toilet paper
- More expensive than regular brands
Types of Toilet Paper to Avoid
Premium/Luxury Toilet Paper
- Ultra soft, thick and absorbent
- Multi-ply takes longer to dissolve
- Not ideal for septic systems
Perfumed/Dyed Toilet Paper
- Perfumes and dyes can harm septic bacteria
- Added chemicals disrupt balance in tank
- Plain toilet paper is better
- Do not actually dissolve like toilet paper
- Can clog pipes and septic systems
- Should never be flushed, despite name
Other Septic System Care Tips
- Have your tank pumped regularly to remove excess solids
- Avoid putting food, grease, or chemicals down drains
- Use natural cleaners – no bleach or harsh chemicals
- Limit use of garbage disposals with septic systems
- Don’t flush paper towels, napkins, or other trash
FAQs About Septic Safe Toilet Paper
Is 2-ply toilet paper bad for septic tanks?
Two-ply toilet paper is thicker and takes longer to break down than 1-ply. It also clogs more easily. However, 2-ply that is marked septic safe is designed to still dissolve rapidly and will not harm your tank.
What happens if you put the wrong toilet paper in a septic tank?
Using thicker, stronger toilet paper that takes long to dissolve means there will be more solids built up in your tank. This can lead to early pumping needs, clogs in the plumbing, and an overloaded tank.
Can too much toilet paper hurt a septic system?
Yes, overusing too much toilet paper, especially thicker or stronger varieties, increases solid waste and can harm your septic system. Use toilet paper conservatively and choose septic safe brands.
Should you use less toilet paper with a septic tank?
It is smart to use toilet paper conservatively and choose septic safe brands that dissolve rapidly in your septic system. However, you do not need to ration toilet paper usage – just choose an appropriate brand.
Do biodegradable wipes work in septic systems?
No. Even though they claim to be flushable, biodegradable wipes do not break down like toilet paper. They can clog systems. Never flush wipes, even if they claim to be flushable.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the right septic safe toilet paper avoids plumbing disasters. Stick to 1-ply paper, septic-safe certified brands, or toilet paper made from bamboo and other materials designed to dissolve rapidly after flushing. Avoid thicker premium brands and toilet papers with dyes, perfumes, or other chemicals. With the right toilet paper, your septic system will function properly for many years!