Is Fabric Softener Bad For Septic Systems?

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fabric softener getting poured into washer

When doing laundry, do you ever think of how the detergent or other products you are using may impact your household health? The chemicals included in fabric softeners have a different effect on your health and home than they do on your clothes.

What is Fabric Softener?

Fabric softeners are just as they sound, they intend to keep your clothes, towels, sheets and any other laundry soft.

The softener coats the fabric in a small layer of chemicals that are electrically charged, making them soft.

Some chemicals that are included in fabric softeners include, petroleum products, silicone-based agents, fragrances, and hormone disruptors such as:

  • Benzyl acetate

  • Benzyl alcohol

  • Ethanol

  • Limonene

  • Chloroform

  • And more.

These chemical names may mean nothing, but the harmful effects they have on your health and septic system can be dangerous.

Why Is Fabric Softener Bad for Septic Tanks?

The chemicals listed above have been linked to multiple types of cancers. In addition to being harmful to your own health, the chemicals can harm your home systems.

Softeners include ammonium compounds with antibacterial properties. This may seem like it will help keep your clothes clean, but the chemicals and products can be toxic to the natural microbes in your septic system.


Soft clothes, especially sheets, make life comfortable. Just because you get rid of fabric softener while doing laundry, doesn’t mean you have to give up the feeling of your clothes soft to the touch when you take them out of the washer and dryer.

There are different alternatives to help keep your laundry soft. DIY recipes made with baking soda, Epsom salt, vinegar, and more can be the perfect solution.

If you have used fabric softener frequently in the past, consider having a septic inspection to make sure your system is working properly.

Turn to NoCo Septic for all your residential and commercial septic needs in Boulder. You can reach us by calling us at (720) 513-5037 or by filling out our online contact form.