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Septic System Heroes: Top Toilet Papers to Prevent Clogs

When you flush your toilet, and the waste and water go to a treatment facility, your primary concern is not clogging your toilet. However, when your home has a septic system, as many homes in the Asheville region do, your septic tank must also be a concern. Septic-safe toilet paper is critical for helping prevent clogs, leaks, and messy, expensive repairs.

The toilet paper you flush into your septic tank and other solids sinks to the bottom of the tank. Over time, a layer of sludge builds up. While naturally occurring bacteria will decompose that sludge, it doesn’t happen as fast as the sludge layer grows. That’s why you should always have the tank pumped at the recommended intervals. 

It’s also why you should be mindful of what type of toilet paper you’re flushing into your septic tank. The best toilet paper for septic tanks will be comfortable for people to use and break down quickly. Meaning it breaks down into smaller particles more quickly. In that case, it will take up less space in the tank, reducing the possibility of clogs and leaks.

So what exactly do you look for in the best toilet paper for septic tanks? 

Factors To Consider for Choosing the Best Toilet Paper for Septic Tanks

You have many choices when it comes to buying toilet paper. If you have a septic tank, consider the following factors.

  • How fast does it dissolve? All toilet paper will dissolve naturally in a septic tank. Still, varieties that break up and break down quicker and into smaller particles are better for your system. The packaging on some brands may emphasize dissolvability, but there’s also a way to test it on your own.

    Buy a roll of a few different brands and get some mason jars or other clear, sealable containers. Place 4-5 pieces from one brand into the container, fill the container ¾ full with water, seal the container, and then shake it vigorously for 10 seconds, which simulates the flushing process. Then how much the toilet paper has broken up and how small the pieces are. Repeat with the other brands.

  • Is it chlorine-free? The white color of many toilet paper brands is often due to bleaching. Unfortunately, chlorine, bleach, and other chemicals can negatively affect the decomposition process inside a septic tank, as it disrupts the balance between the anaerobic bacteria and the waste there.

    It’s, therefore, better for a septic tank if you use toilet paper that hasn’t been chemically treated.

  • How strong, absorbent, and soft is it? Finding the right balance here can take time and effort. Rough-feeling toilet paper, which some people disparagingly compare to sandpaper, can be unpleasant; its abrasiveness can even leave people chafed and sore. Likewise, anyone who’s ever used thin, weak toilet paper that breaks during use or doesn’t absorb moisture well knows how unpleasant that can be to use.

    On the other hand, toilet paper that’s thick and soft is comfortable and may feel downright luxurious to use and tends not to be good for septic tanks. Because of its thickness, it doesn’t break down as well or as quickly in septic tanks, leaving larger clumps that can contribute to drain clogs. Thicker toilet paper is also more prone to causing clogs when flushing.

    For septic system use, you want toilet paper that’s strong and absorbent but also will break down quickly into small particles. One-ply paper is the best, but many consider two-ply a good compromise. It is usually strong and soft enough for good performance and better suited to breaking down.

Types of Toilet Paper

Now that you know what qualities to consider you can look at different types of toilet paper available and how they match up with those qualities.

Infographic by Four Seasons Plumbing detailing types of toilet paper: 1. Regular (slow to dissolve). 2. Biodegradable (septic-friendly). 3. Recycled (fast dissolving). 4. Septic-Safe (easily dissolvable). 5. Flushable Wipes (soft but not always plumbing-friendly).

  • “Regular” toilet paper – Standard toilet paper will break down. Still, these types are more likely to have been chemically treated or to be the plush types that don’t break down as well.

    The more like a paper towel your toilet paper feels, the worse it is for a septic tank. Generally speaking, “regular” toilet paper is not the best choice for a septic system because the fibers are thicker and longer, taking more time to break down.

  • Biodegradable toilet paper – Although any type of toilet paper is biodegradable and will eventually break down inside a septic tank, toilet paper specifically manufactured and marked as biodegradable is better for a septic system.

    That’s because it requires less water to break down, and it dissolves much faster. The downside to biodegradable toilet paper is that these types are often not as soft and thick as others. They can also be more expensive.

  • Recycled toilet paper – As mentioned, chemicals like bleach and chlorine can interfere with the breakdown process. Recycled toilet paper contains fewer such chemicals, and because its fibers are short and break apart more efficiently, it dissolves faster in water and inside your septic tank.

  • Septic-safe toilet paper – Toilet paper marked as septic-safe is toilet paper that should dissolve rapidly. Of course, labels can be misleading, especially since any toilet paper is technically septic-safe, even though some types are not very good for septic systems.

    You can check with the National Sanitation Foundation if you’re skeptical of the labeling. They’re a non-profit that tests products related to health and the environment, and you can find out which toilet paper products they’ve certified as septic-safe.

  • Flushable wipes – Flushable wipes are appealing because they’re moist and soft, but any skilled plumber will tell you that flushable wipes often are not as plumbing friendly as the marketing claims.

    Their thickness can cause major drain clogs in traditional plumbing and septic systems alike. If you want to use flushable wipes with your septic system, look for wipes that have plant-based fibers. They start to break apart as soon as you flush. Note that most baby wipes are not intended to be flushed unless specifically marked so.

Getting Expert Help for Plumbing Maintenance and Repairs

Whether you have a traditional plumbing system or a septic system, routine maintenance and timely repairs are essential to its proper functioning and longevity. For honest and upfront pricing, technicians who are courteous and knowledgeable, and exceptional quality, Four Seasons Plumbing is a trusted plumbing service in Hendersonville and around beautiful Asheville nc plumbers If you need a plumbing inspection, maintenance, repair, or other service, give us a call  or schedule online today!

Max Rose - Owner of Four Seasons Plumbing


Max Rose

Max Rose is the owner of Four Seasons Plumbing, a plumbing company in Asheville, North Carolina.