Choosing the right toilet paper is an important decision if you have a septic tank. The wrong toilet paper can clog up your septic system, while the right pick will keep things flowing smoothly.
But with so many options on store shelves, how do you know which toilet papers are actually septic safe?
This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about choosing the best toilet paper for septic systems, including:
- How Toilet Paper Affects Septic Tanks
- What Makes Toilet Paper Septic Safe?
- 1-Ply vs. 2-Ply Toilet Paper
- Other Septic Safe Options
- Avoid These Types of Toilet Paper
- Certified Septic Safe Brands
- How to Test Toilet Paper for Your Septic Tank
How Toilet Paper Affects Septic Tanks
When toilet paper goes down the toilet into a septic tank, it sinks to the bottom of the tank. There, bacteria help break down the toilet paper and other solid wastes.
If toilet paper breaks down too slowly, it can accumulate into sludge and clog up the septic tank. This forces you to pump the tank more often.
That’s why choosing a toilet paper that rapidly dissolves in water is crucial for keeping septic tanks flowing freely.
What Makes Toilet Paper Septic Safe?
Septic safe toilet papers have a few key characteristics:
Rapidly dissolving – Disintegrates quickly in water to avoid buildup.
Free of harsh chemicals – Chemicals can kill septic bacteria.
Made from weaker fibers – Weak, short fibers break down easier.
1-ply or 2-ply – Fewer layers dissolve faster than 3-ply or more.
Unscented – Fragrances can disrupt septic bacteria.
Ink-free – Colored toilet paper has non-septic safe dyes.
1-Ply vs. 2-Ply Toilet Paper
One-ply toilet paper is the gold standard when it comes to being septic safe. The thinner, single layer dissolves extremely quickly.
However, 1-ply toilet paper is also less durable and comfortable to use. Most people prefer a thicker, softer 2-ply toilet paper.
Luckily, 2-ply toilet paper can also be septic-safe if made with weaker, shorter fibers that break down easily. Many major brands offer both 1-ply and septic-safe 2-ply options.
Other Septic Safe Options
Beyond traditional wood pulp-based toilet paper, there are other fiber sources that produce septic-friendly toilet paper:
Bamboo – Made from fast-growing bamboo grass fibers.
Sugarcane – Sugarcane bagasse is used as a pulp source.
Recycled paper – Recycled office/newspaper paper has short fibers.
Cotton – Cotton linters provide a fluffy yet dissolvable fiber.
These alternative fiber toilet papers break down very quickly and are ideal for septic systems.
Avoid These Types of Toilet Paper
Some specific types of toilet paper are not recommended for septic tank use:
Scented – Perfumes and fragrances can harm septic bacteria.
Colored – Dyes and inks are non-septic safe.
Quilted – Layers can adhere and resist dissolving.
Lotioned – Moisturizing lotions may not dissolve well.
Decorated – Embellishments don’t break down easily.
3-ply or more – Multiple layers equal slower breakdown.
Also avoid any toilet paper with antimicrobial ingredients, which can damage beneficial septic bacteria.
Certified Septic Safe Brands
Look for toilet paper certified as septic safe by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). This independent lab tests how quickly toilet papers dissolve.
Some reputable certified septic-safe brands include:
- Seventh Generation
- Angel Soft
- Kirkland Signature
Check product packaging for the official NSF markings to confirm septic safety.
How to Test Toilet Paper for Your Septic Tank
You can do a simple at-home test to see how fast a toilet paper dissolves:
Get a few clear jars, and fill them with water.
Add a couple squares of different toilet paper brands to each jar.
Shake the jars vigorously for 10-15 seconds.
Observe which toilet paper breaks down and falls apart the quickest.
The faster a toilet paper disintegrates, the more septic-friendly it is. Test a few options to find your preferred brand.
Can you use Charmin toilet paper with a septic tank?
Yes, Charmin toilet paper is generally considered septic safe. Look for their septic-safe, 2-ply options clearly labeled as “safe for septic systems”. Avoid their scented varieties.
Is Kirkland (Costco) toilet paper septic safe?
Yes, Kirkland Signature toilet paper is certified by NSF as completely septic safe. Their bath tissues dissolve rapidly and won’t clog up your septic tank.
Are Scott toilet papers septic safe?
Scott makes many septic safe toilet papers like their 1-ply and RV-safe options. Again, check product labels for the NSF seal confirming septic suitability.
Can Lysol wipes be flushed in a septic system?
No, you should never flush sanitizing wipes in a septic tank even if labeled flushable. They don’t dissolve and can clog pumps and pipes. Use toilet paper only.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the wrong toilet paper is one of the quickest ways to clog up your septic system. Prioritize septic-safe, fast-dissolving toilet papers free of dyes, perfumes, and antibacterial chemicals. Stick to 1-ply or lightly woven 2-ply options and check for septic-safe certifications on the packaging to avoid issues.