DIY Septic Tank Treatment

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Septic tank systems can be pretty finicky and quite expensive when they back-up. We’ve only had to pump our septic tank 1x in over 20 years, here’s our for keeping our system working without issues . . .

Natural Enzyme Action

Much like your stomach, septic tanks need good bacteria and enzymes to break down the solids that pass through it. These beneficial bacteria and enzymes can come from several sources, but our favorite is actually rotten tomatoes.

These naturally occurring enzymes are proteins called Pectinase or pectinolytic enzymes. Pectinase is a group of enzymes that consist of lipase, hydrolyses, lyase and it is able to naturally breakdown pectin and plant cell walls, helping to cause decomposition and recycling of waste plant materials.

Every 3 months or so we “feed” our Septic tank 3-4 Rotten tomatoes via our garbage disposal. The key is to ensure that you break the tomato up and pass only 1/2 a tomato or so at a time with the water running to ensure it flushes through completely.

If you don’t happen to have a garbage disposal, you can place a couple of large rotten tomatoes in a bag (chances are they’re already in a bag in your fridge and starting to liquify anyway!) Gently smoosh the bag to break the tomatoes up, palpating the bag to create very small chunks. Dump them into a toilet (no bleach!) and flush. Keep in mind the hole in the base of the toilet isn’t very big, so make sure the chunks are small enough so they won’t get stuck!

Rotten Tomato Septic Tank Treatment

Normally having rotten tomatoes every few months isn’t a problem, between the garden overproducing in the spring, summer and fall, there are always inevitably a few extras available, but then again, during the winter months, tomatoes have gotten pushed in the back of the fridge and started to liquify before I discovered them. So at least they aren’t totally going to waste.

The one time in 20+ years that we DID have our septic system pumped we were told that it absolutely didn’t need it, the system was running very well and looked great. The fellow told us several Horror stories of systems he’s seen in his work where the families used “Fluffy” toilet paper.

You know the one.. they have cute little bears in their commercials who are proud of themselves for not having lint left behind.. or the ones that could double as a bedspread made by grandma because the quilted pattern is the same!

pump septic tank
“Fosse septique inspection trap” by Ian Haycox is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

He asked me specifically what brand we use, it’s Scott Tissue. It breaks down quickly and doesn’t “glop” into a line plugging mess.

Alternatively, if you don’t happen to have rotten tomatoes around, you can also use bakers or brewers yeast to add beneficial bacteria to your tank.

Septic Tank Cleaner

2 cups brown sugar
5 cups warm water
3 T’s baker’s yeast
Dissolve sugar and yeast in water.

Pour mix into a toilet (not containing bleach!) and flush. This is best done at night, so the yeast can work overnight, do not flush for at least 3 hours.

Additional Tips:

  • Always avoid adding Raw or Cooked meat to your septic via the toilet, the garbage disposal or any other method, Meat is NEVER a beneficial bacteria.
  • Always avoid adding oils, grease or fat in any form, (solid or liquid) to your tank, this includes, but is not limited to: cooking oils, bacon grease, meat grease from draining ground beef/turkey, etc
  • Avoid flushing anything besides waste and toilet paper in your tank, meaning, leave the feminine products in the rubbish, the baby diapers, and wipes, paper towels in the trashcan only, etc. Just because those personal wipes claim to be safe for the septic, they take a very long time to break down.

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About Liss 3985 Articles
Melissa Burnell, known to her friends and fans as "Liss," grew up in Southern Maine, now residing in sunny South Carolina. As a busy Wife, Mother of two sons, an avid photographer, and self-employed entrepreneur, Liss understands the value of both time and money.

11 Comments

  1. Definitely do not flush wipes down the toilet into a septic tank. The last time our tank was emptied, the cleaners almost did not do it because of the wipes. The facility they take the waste will not accept any deliveries with wipes anymore because they take too long to break down.

    Be careful what goes into a septic tank.

  2. This is great info. Moved into home with septic. Never had one before.

    Was wondering what to “feed” the tank. Thanks so much!

  3. Just be careful what you put into the septic tank from the kitchen. The faster you you fill the tank the more it has to be pumped. It averages us for 3 people living here about $250 to pump the tank and that includes the transport and emptying the truck.
    It you are careful you might be able to get away with pumping the tank about every 2 – 5 years.
    Make sure the access top(s) pf the tank are accessible.

    My husband had to dig down the first time to uncover the top and the septic people put in extension tops that reached the surface of the surrounding ground. These tops now just have to be unscrewed and not dug up every time.

    • Just be careful what you put into the septic tank from the kitchen. The faster you you fill the tank the more it has to be pumped. It averages us for 3 people living here about $250 to pump the tank and that includes the transport and emptying the truck.
      It you are careful you might be able to get away with pumping the tank about every 2 – 5 years.
      Make sure the access top(s) pf the tank are accessible.

      My husband had to dig down the first time to uncover the top and the septic people put in extension tops that reached the surface of the surrounding ground. These tops now just have to be unscrewed and not dug up every time.

      We’ve had ours pumped twice in 35 years and it didn’t “need” it either time. If you don’t put junk down into it (tampons/crappy brands of “quilted” toilet paper, grease, etc) it will keep itself in perfect working order. That’s the point of a septic tank.

      It’s not a holding tank, that’s an entirely different issue. a true septic should not need to be pumped but once every 15-20 years. Of COURSE Septic companies will tell you otherwise, kind of hard to maintain a business when a homeowner only needs you once every 15 years vs every 5.

      LOL

  4. The absolute best thing you can do to maintain a good working septic system is not use a garbage disposal. you want stuff… that is already digested, not raw.

    compost or trash your scraps. of course as others have said no oils. ditch the chemicals and go for homemade green cleaning products.

    chemicals are not good for septic systems. you are trying to keep bacterial processes not kill them.

  5. excellent info here- I don’t have a septic tank, but as we are hoping to buy, this info has reduced my fear of septic tanks

  6. Ive lived n same place since 1999 and have an ariator with 200 ft of graveless leachi am yet to have it pumped..cig.butts tampins paper towles have stoped it up bfore but with a snake i got it clean…but im afraid im going to need it pumped soon…but ive got almost 19 years of service outvof it….and its even in clay soil.I have been very fortunite ….

  7. It is interesting that you suggested feeding your septic tank some rotten tomatoes every now and then. That is good for me to know as a new homeowner. I don’t want to have a problem with my septic system. It might be smart for me to have a professional come clean my tank out for me.

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