If your local septic services company tries to sell you on septic tank additives, make sure to read this and consider the pros and cons before making your decision.

What to Know About Septic Tank Additives Before You Buy

There are a lot of products you can purchase at the local hardware stores and online that claim septic tank additives, or septic system treatments, are advanced enzymes that break down household waste or natural active septic bacteria to reduce tank build-up and prevent septic tank backups. At Double Flush Septic Services we have not seen that to be true and any difference we have seen a septic treatment make is actually to make the septic system worse.  To understand these claims, we must first understand how your septic system works in its natural state.

Natural Septic Tank Bacteria Process

Every active septic system has bacteria in it, without using additives, and you need that bacteria to help your septic tank process waste. Beneficial bacteria, which is naturally contained in the waste you flush down your toilet, is constantly moving around in the septic system, breaking down solids, turning them into liquid waste.

After flushing waste down the toilet, these naturally-occurring anaerobic bacteria take about two days to breakdown the solids into liquids. Waste that can't be broken down sinks to the bottom as sludge while the rest floats to the top as scum or eventually goes out to the drain field as processed wastewater, having been "processed" by the bacteria in your septic tank.  When the liquids in the tank reach the drainfield, they drain safely into the yard.

As you flush more waste, the sludge level increases (amount of solids in the bottom) which is why you have  septic tanks cleaned every two years. You may need more cleanings if you have a bigger household, smaller septic tank, or large gatherings when your system is processing an increase (read: SEPTIC EMERGENCY: FLUSHABLE WIPES CAN RUIN A PARTY and BENEFITS OF RENTING PORTA POTTIES FOR YOUR NEXT EVENT before hosting an event).

Our Experience With Tank Additives

Knowing how the septic system works in its natural state, for us to recommend a septic tank additive as effective, we would need to see a substantial difference in how the bacteria is processing waste. In our experience, we have not noticed a difference in a reduced amount of solids (sludge) for our customers that diligently use septic treatments.  Some actually have shown detrimental effects with either:

  1. A buildup of a sawdust material on the top layer (scum layer in the diagram), and/or
  2. Suspended solids. Once the scum layer is thickened with the sawdust-like material, we've seen solids suspended on the top layer.  This could lead to less sludge, but only because the solids are being pushed out to the drain field before being treated by the bacteria - which is very dangerous.

What Does the EPA Say About Septic Additives?

On the website:

"EPA does not make recommendations on individual septic system products. Commercially available microbiological and enzyme additives are promoted to reduce sludge and scum accumulation in septic tanks. However, these additives are not necessary for a septic system to function properly when treating domestic wastewater. Use caution when using additives in your septic system as they may decrease the performance of septic drainfields, which treat the wastewater from the septic tank. In general, do not use additives made of organic solvents or strong alkali chemicals because they pose a potential threat to soil structure and groundwater."


  • Grease
  • Rags and strings
  • Coffee grounds
  • Paper towels
  • Baby wipes
  • Sanitary napkins and tampons
  • Diapers
  • Cigarette butts
  • Antibacterial soaps
  • Trash
  • Condoms
  • Bandages
  • Dental Floss
  • Cat Litter
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Other non-degradable products

Emergency Septic Tank Cleaning Wooster


You can do your part to keep your septic tank healthy and reduce the frequency of septic tank pumping. First, don't put anything down your septic system that is non-biodegradable, such as cigarette butts, diapers, paper towels, and more. Plus, installing an effluent filter, which helps to decrease the number of solids that leave the tank helps promote your septic tank's health.


We service the Northern Ohio area including Erie, Lorain, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit and Wayne counties. Our family-owned septic company is the one to call for all of your emergency septic tank services, including septic tank pumping. We can work around your schedule when it's convenient for you, including working on weekends and evenings. Septic services include installations, repairs, inspections, cleaning and maintenance plans.   Rest assured, when you partner with our local, family-owned septic company, your Northern Ohio home or business will be well served. Call to get started today!

Are Septic Tank Additives Necessary?