10 Best Laundry Detergents for Septic Systems in 2023

While you are probably more than aware that there are certain laundry detergents that are safe for the environment, safe for people, and allergy-friendly. What you may not know is that there are actually laundry detergents that are designed specifically for people with septic systems.

If you’ve ever lived in a home that is hooked up to a sewer, then you are likely familiar with the numerous restrictions placed on what you can actually put down the drain of your septic system. This is because these systems need bacteria to help break down waste. So, if you’re throwing down harsh chemicals or certain contaminants, then it could seriously harm the microorganisms and stop the system from working entirely.

In fact, one of the biggest contributors to wastewater is laundry. This is why it is so important to be vigilant as to what cleaning products you use, and which laundry detergents are safe for septic systems. In the following guide we are going to narrow down the best laundry detergents to use with septic systems, as well as some things you should account for beforehand.

Is Liquid Better than Powdered Laundry Detergent for Septic Systems?

Regardless of whether it claims to be ‘septic system-safe’, powdered laundry detergents can lead to serious clogs in your tank. The reason for this is that detergent powders are likely to contain granulated plastic, as well as other materials that won’t fully break down.

So, when these materials enter your drainage pipes and septic tank, they will settle or stick to the sides, and build up over time. This can cause serious harm to the septic system as it will end up clogging the drains to the point where you will likely need to hire a professional to come and unclog the septic tank.

Whereas liquid laundry detergents tend to be a far safer alternative because they not only dissolve quicker, but most are also made with non-toxic and all-natural ingredients. Meaning that they won’t throw off the enzyme balance of the septic system.

What Makes a Laundry Detergent Septic Safe?

What makes a laundry detergent ‘septic-safe’ generally comes down to the materials and properties used to manufacture the detergent itself. When shopping for a septic-safe detergent, try to avoid things like; pure chlorine, substances that contain chlorine, products that exceed the surfactant content by 5%, and fluids with phosphates, and petrochemicals.

Also watch out for products containing formaldehyde, nitrate oxidizing agents, and cleansers with artificial colors, perfumes, parabens, and sulfates. As well as active substances like alcohol, acids, alkalis, antifreeze, phosphorus, etc. All of these are not only harmful to your drainage system, but also to yourself, and the environment.

Generally speaking, a biodegradable detergent that carries low levels of surfactants is the best option. This is because these substances not only decompose perfectly into components, reducing the load on the cleaning system.

But they also develop beneficial bacteria and are quite efficient for a variety of household purposes. Moreover, natural surfactants are derived from plant oils and produce less suds than petrochemical surfactants made from crude oil, making them a far better alternative.

Is a “Septic Safe” Sticker Always a Good Sign?

Whether you find a ‘septic-safe’ sticker on the bottle, or with the company itself, this is almost always a good sign right off the bat. If you find one of these stickers, then there is a good chance that the detergent is 100% natural (or close to), meaning that it is free from harmful chemicals or toxins. As well as biodegradable, and third-party certified, making it better for the environment.

With that being said, you will have to pay close attention to which exact materials the detergent is filled with, as some will be more harmful to your septic system than others. Just because it says ‘septic-safe’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it is free from all of these chemicals.

10 Best Laundry Detergents for Septic Systems

1. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Liquid Charlie’s Soap Laundry Liquid 1/2 Gallon (80 Loads, 1 Pack) Natural Deep Cleaning Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent – Safe, Effective and Non-Toxic

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Has “septic safe” on label

Without question, the best laundry detergent for septic systems is Charlie’s Soap Laundry Liquid. This highly-concentrated formula not only works effectively on all laundry, from high-tech fabrics to delicates, but it’s also hypoallergenic making it perfect for those with sensitive skin.

Plus, its non-toxic, natural ingredients work together to thoroughly rinse through fabrics, and is entirely safe to use on baby fabrics, cloth diapers and other baby clothes between wears. Moreover, each bottle contains just four ingredients, and is certified to be safer for the environment and for your septic system.

2. Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent, Hypoallergenic, Enzyme-Based, Free & Clear, 24 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)

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Another extraordinary laundry detergent for those with septic systems is the Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent. This unique formula not only cleans clothes, but also reduces waste in the process (less plastic, water/energy, exact dosage) by using safe, plant-based ingredients.

Formulated by doctors for people with sensitive skin, and allergies, the Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent is free of sulfates, phosphates, petrochemicals, animal byproducts, and chlorine. Furthermore, it’s one of the top-rated liquid detergents on Amazon, and is safe and effective on delicate and dark clothing, microfiber towels, cloth diapers, as well as septic and greywater systems.

3. Persil Liquid Laundry Detergent Persil Liquid Laundry Detergent, ProClean Scent, 2X Concentrated, 110 Loads, Blue, 82.5 Fl Oz, Original

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Has “safe for septic” on rear side of bottle.

The Persil Liquid Laundry Detergent is an extraordinarily powerful stain-fighting formula that is safe for standard, and HE washing machines, as well as septic systems. It’s original scented solution is packed with Pro Power Technology that delivers 2x more cleaning power in every drop versus Persil’s standard liquid detergent.

Plus, it’s free of phosphates, and other harmful materials, and includes one 82.5-ounce bottle that will keep you going for 110 loads.

4. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Laundry Detergent Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Liquid Laundry Detergent, Cruelty Free and Biodegradable Formula Infused with Essential Oils, Lavender Scent, 64 oz - Pack of 2 (128 Loads)

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The Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Liquid Laundry Detergent is a concentrated formula that is not only gentle on fabrics, but also extremely effective as well. Mrs. Meyers Laundry Detergent is a highly efficient yet eco-friendly brand that is entirely biodegradable, and works well with any type of washing machine.

Not only that, but it is also made with plant-derived cleaning ingredients along with stain-fighting enzymes and essential oils that is perfect for those with sensitive skin.

5. ECOS Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent ECOS 2x Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent, Lavender, 200 loads, 100oz Bottle by Earth Friendly Products (Pack of 2)

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Another spectacular alternative is the ECOS Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent. This ultra-concentrated formula is made entirely from plant-derived cleaners, and without the use of dyes, brighteners, parabens, phosphates, or phthalates.

Plus, it’s even a dermatologist-tested hypoallergenic and pH-balanced laundry detergent that is designed specifically for sensitive skin. Beyond this, the ECOS Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent is 100% vegan, and made with coconut and lemongrass essential oils.

6. Seventh Generation Liquid Laundry Detergent Seventh Generation Liquid Laundry Detergent, Fresh Lavender & Blue Eucalyptus scent, 150 oz, 99 Loads (Packaging May Vary)

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The Seventh Generation Liquid Laundry Detergent is a USDA-certified bio-based product that is not only gentle on the skin, but also better for the environment. Within it’s formula you won’t find any harsh chemicals, artificial brighteners, synthetic fragrances, or dyes.

Also, thanks to its enzyme-rich formula, the Seventh Generation Liquid Laundry Detergent is able to remove stubborn stains like coffee, grease, grass, and even tomato sauce. Plus, thanks to the USDA-certification, at least 97% of its plant-based ingredients are biologically renewable.

7. Eco Me Natural Non-Toxic Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent Eco Me Natural Non-Toxic Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent, Healthy Lavender Blossom Scent, 32 Ounce

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Eco-Me’s Natural Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent is another astounding choice for people with septic systems. It’s formula is made up entirely of plant oils that help to fight off harmful bacteria, while also being eco-friendly and cruelty-free.

While it may not be fragrance-free, there are no synthetic fragrances used in the process, and it’s also free of formaldehyde, paraben, sulfate, chlorine, phosphate, and dyes. Making it not only safe for sensitive skin, but also children and pets as well. Plus, you get up to 64 loads with a single 2-pound bottle.

8. Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Odor Blasters Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Odor Blasters Fresh Burst, 70 Loads Liquid Laundry Detergent, 122.5 Fl oz

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The Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Odor Blasters is a fantastic formula that promises to deliver ‘whiter whites and brighter bights, without the need for harmful materials found in other detergents. This powerful solution contains biodegradable surfactants, enzymes, baking soda, and oxygen bleach, and comes with OxiClean Stain Fighters that help to remove tough dirt and stains.

Not only that but it’s also one of the more affordable laundry detergents on the market, and is formulated to break down body odors, sweat, and other tough scents, while still being safe to use in your septic system.

9. Method Liquid Laundry Detergent Method Liquid Laundry Detergent, Hypoallergenic + Biodegradable Formula, Plant-Based Stain Remover, Lavender + Cypress Scent, 1.5 Liter Bottle, 1 Pack (66 Total Loads), Packaging May Vary

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The Method Liquid Laundry Detergent is an incredibly efficient and naturally-derived formula that is free of formaldehyde, parabens, chlorine, phosphates, phthalates, and DEA.

Despite this, it is still tremendously effective at removing dirt and stains, keeping colours bright and whites clear. Not only that but the biodegradable formula is safe to use with septic systems, and it’s even hypoallergenic too, making it an ideal choice for anyone with sensitive skin.

10. Planet 2x HE Ultra Laundry Liquid Detergent Planet 2x HE Ultra Laundry Liquid Detergent, 32-Loads, 50-Ounces Bottle (Pack of 4)

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Finally, there’s the Planet 2x HE Ultra Laundry Liquid Detergent. This highly-effective solution works hard to remove tough stains, while still being gentle on your skin, and working with both standard and high-efficiency (HE) washes. Not only that but it’s all-natural formula is free of fragrances, dyes, enzymes, artificial brighteners and synthetic preservatives, making it ideal for people with sensitive skin.

Plus, the Planet 2x HE Ultra Laundry Liquid Detergent is certified 100% biodegradable, and made with ingredients from plant-based sources that are phosphate free and safe for septic systems.

Related Questions

Can I Use Fabric Softener on a Septic System?

Absolutely not! What you might be surprised to learn is that the same formula that’s used to create soft, static-free, and fresh-smelling clothes, can actually have devastating effects on your septic system. First off, the chemicals within fabric softeners attack your septic’s ecosystem as well as interfere with the tank’s functionality.

Not only that but the quats in fabric softeners can be particularly worrisome because they are antibacterial, which kills off all the beneficial bacteria in your system’s tank. Plus, they also contain nitrogen, which can lead to more nitrogen finding its way into the groundwater, and contributing to harmful algae blooms that greatly affect local drinking water.

Also, fabric softeners are petroleum-based (or oil-based), meaning that they directly add to the layer of scum floating on the surface of your tank’s effluent. If the scum layer becomes too thick, it will flow into your drain field, potentially causing clogs or even total system failure. Simply put, DO NOT use fabric softener if you have a septic system.

Is Tide Detergent Septic Safe?

Tide is one of the leading brands for laundry detergent, and while most of their products are deemed safe, their various products can have different effects on septic systems. For example, Tide Pods are one of the most popular forms of laundry detergent, and while they are technically safe for septic systems, the convenient packaging can pose other problems (which we will touch on below).

Tide’s powder detergent is another popular choice, however, there are more risks associated with your piping and tank systems with powdered detergents in general. Tide liquid detergent is easily the safest option for septic systems because it comes in a liquid format, so it will not clog up your pipes or septic tanks.

You may also be wondering if you can use Gain Detergent if you have a septic, read our Gain guide to find out.

Can I Use Laundry Detergent Pods When on Septic?

While laundry detergent pods are certainly convenient, some studies have found that the polyvinyl alcohol plastic that encases the detergent doesn’t fully break down. Which can certainly become problematic for the environment as the plastic ends up in water supply systems, landfills, and can soak up carcinogens from its surroundings. With that being said, when used as directed on the packaging, laundry detergent pods are generally safe for septic systems.

If you do opt to use laundry detergent pods, be sure that they are eco-friendly, and made without the use of dyes, chlorine, phosphates, enzymes, or optical brighteners. Keep in mind that harsh chemicals can greatly interfere with the natural bacteria that helps to break down waste in your septic system, so it would be best not to interfere with this.

How Many Loads of Laundry Per Day Can I Do on Septic?

As with any household appliance, you should always try to start it only when you have enough items for a full load. Try not to do more than one wash cycle per day unless you absolutely have to, and always try to use the lowest dose of detergent possible. If you only need to clean a few things, simply use a shorter cycle.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it! Those are the 10 best laundry detergents for septic systems. This article has not only included a list of the best detergents, but also an in-depth buying guide to help you through the process. So long as you stick to what we’ve discussed in this guide, you should be able to find the best laundry detergent for your septic system in no time.