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Best Septic-Safe Laundry Detergent of 2023

Man filling washing machine with septic-safe laundry detergent.

Whether you’re separating your recycling or biking to work, being kind to the environment takes a little extra effort, and septic system upkeep is no different.

A septic system is a fantastic opportunity to practice and promote environmental stewardship. You, the community, and local ecosystems benefit from proper maintenance and waste management. And that starts with paying attention to what you send down the drain.

Laundry detergents for septic systems need a delicate balance, with plenty of power to get your clothes clean yet gentle enough to protect the bacteria that make the system function. Keep your system safe and your family happy with these six best septic-safe laundry detergents in 2023.

1. ECOS Laundry Detergent – Best Septic-Safe Laundry Detergent

ECOS laundry detergent offers a ton of benefits for you and the environment. For the money, it earns our pick for the best laundry detergent for septic systems you can buy. The hypoallergenic detergent may be gentle on the nostrils and the skin, but it powers through stains to keep your clothes looking fresh.

Plant-derived surfactants lift stains, and an eco-friendly fabric softener makes your clothes feel incredible right out of the wash. Lacking chemical dyes and other toxic materials, the biodegradable formula earns an EPA Safer Choice certification. And coming from a company that went carbon neutral in 2021, this septic-safe detergent is better for the environment than you may realize!


  • Hypoallergenic and 100% vegan formula
  • Plant-based ingredients
  • EPA Safer Choice certified
  • Pleasant fragrance
  • Carbon neutral manufacturing


  • Scent might dull quickly
  • Contains some synthetic preservatives

2. Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap – Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent

Trusted since 1948, Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap has proven its worth as one of the most versatile, eco-friendly cleaning solutions. Claiming 18-in-1 uses, it truly is magic soap! As a laundry detergent, the all-natural blend will make your clothes feel fresh and protect your septic tank.

Dr. Bronner’s liquid soaps use only plant-based ingredients. They deliver powerful cleaning without harming your home or the environment. Over 90% of the ingredients are organic, 70% are fair trade certified, and it all comes in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle.

The 3x concentrated liquid detergent is a fantastic all-purpose soap. Dilute it as needed to suit your laundry, dishes, or bathing needs. Available in four scents (rose, peppermint, lavender, and almond), Dr. Bronner’s soap can keep the whole home smelling incredible.


  • All-natural, biodegradable formula
  • Made with over 90% organic ingredients
  • Excellent for sensitive skin
  • Concentrated formula conserves laundry detergent
  • 70% of ingredients are fair-trade certified
  • Versatile all-purpose soap
  • Naturally scented with essential oils


  • Can dry skin as a body soap

3. Dropps Laundry Detergent Pods – Best Laundry Detergent Pods

Dropps laundry detergent pods are as convenient as they are gentle for you and the environment. Lacking toxic chlorine bleach, dyes, and phosphates, they’ll prevent undue damage to your septic tank and your skin. The plant-based formula is one of the best laundry detergents for sensitive fabrics and individuals. It can prevent allergic reactions and irritation while getting clothes exceptionally clean.

Dropps pods work in any machine, on any clothing, and for any skin type. Choose unscented pods or one of three pleasant aromas (Clean and Crips, Orange Blossom, and Lavender Eucalyptus), all created with a blend of septic-safe essential oils.


  • Gentle on sensitive skin
  • Safe on delicate and natural materials
  • Naturally scented with essential oils
  • Packaged in recyclable and compostable cardboard


  • Relatively expensive
  • May not dissolve fully in cold water

4. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder – Best Powder Detergent

Powder can be cleaner than drippy liquid laundry detergents, but non-degraded fillers are also more likely to clog a septic system. If you prefer powdered detergent, Charlie’s Soap offers the power you expect with the non-toxic ingredients septic systems demand. The EPA Safer Choice certified detergent uses only four natural ingredients. You don’t have to worry about any harmful fragrances, brighteners, and septic-clogging compounds.

Charlie’s Soap laundry powder removes the skin-irritating additives without sacrificing cleaning quality. Plant-based surfactants pair with washing soda to deep clean all kinds of stains, including blood, grease, oil, food, and wine. The biodegradable blend gives you the power of a concentrated laundry detergent while staying gentle on delicate fabrics and safe for your septic system.


  • Natural plant-based ingredients
  • Deep cleaning power lifts tough stains
  • Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free for sensitive skin
  • EPA Safer Choice certified


  • Overuse can fade dark clothing
  • May not completely dissolve in cold water

5. Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent Packs

Seventh Generation is one of the best laundry detergents for septic systems from a company focused on sustainability. The washer pods are an EPA Safer Choice certified product and contain 94% bio-based ingredients, earning a USDA Certified Biobased label. Without dyes, fragrances, and brighteners, the Free & Clear formula is safe for sensitive skin and the environment.

The easy-to-use pods combine coconut oil and washing soda with a powerful combination of enzymes that will break down tough stains without harming the helpful bacteria in septic systems. The targeted plant-derived enzymes attack everything from grease and body oils to grass and blood, keeping your clothes smelling clean and looking bright.


  • Quadruple enzyme action lifts numerous stains
  • EPA Safer Choice certified
  • USDA certified 94% biobased
  • Fragrance-free formula won’t irritate sensitive skin


  • Packaging is not as eco-friendly as other detergents
  • May not dissolve in low-temperature water

6. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Laundry Detergent

Mrs. Meyer’s detergent is part of an exhaustive catalog of septic-safe cleaning products from one of America’s favorite housekeeping brands. The concentrated liquid laundry detergent combines natural surfactants with stain-destroying enzymes for effective deep cleaning. You can use it in high-efficiency and standard washing machines, and the formula is biodegradable after 28 days.

Though it can be relatively expensive, Mrs. Meyer’s is one of the best laundry detergents for anyone who loves classic herbal and floral aromas in their clothing. Choose from five long-lasting scents — basil, lemon verbena, honeysuckle, lavender, and rain water, featuring a refreshing hint of white flowers.


  • Available in five pleasing aromas
  • Stain-fighting enzymes lift tough stains


  • Relatively expensive
  • Not as eco-friendly as other septic-safe detergents

Is All Detergent Septic-Safe?

Septic-safe laundry detergent is one of the many critical product choices you must make when your home has a septic system. The system depends on the hard work of bacteria decomposing solids to keep it working efficiently. Studies have shown that toxic chemicals in laundry detergent, like chlorine bleach, surfactants, and phosphates, can harm those beneficial bacteria, leading to poor waste breakdown and settling.

Accumulated solids from hazardous chemical use can lead to premature tank filling and system blockages, causing unpleasant smells and clogged or slow drains. Catastrophe will strike when the pipes back up and send waste into the home. Sewage will cause substantial damage and severe health risks at that point.

Worse still, unsafe laundry detergents can result in solids and chemicals entering the trenches leading to the drain field. Solids may clog the trench pores and overfill the drain field, which could fail, as it will no longer absorb the waste. If untreated water spills into groundwater and nearby wells, your neighbors and the local wildlife could pay the price for your septic system’s breakdown.

Between the health and safety concerns and potential for expensive repairs, you have more than enough good reasons to keep your septic system healthy with septic-safe laundry detergents. And if you’re the DIY type, don’t forget that you can also make an effective and septic-friendly homemade laundry detergent with simple, safe ingredients.

Is Tide Laundry Detergent Safe for Septic Systems?

Tide is undoubtedly America’s favorite liquid laundry detergent brand, raking in nearly double the revenue of their closest competitor, Gain, in 2018. Consumers prefer Tide because of its superior stain-lifting and fabric-freshening performance.

For homeowners with septic systems, the brand’s liquid detergents are less likely to clog pipes and create backups than powdered detergents. Though not entirely devoid of potentially harmful chemicals, the ingredient list is generally safe for the beneficial bacteria needed to break down solids in the septic tank. Using only the recommended amount is crucial, as there is still a greater risk of harming the system than with plant-based and all-natural laundry detergents.

One of the most notable downsides to Tide laundry detergent isn’t that it hurts your septic system but rather that it could potentially cause more damage beyond it.

Not all of Tide’s detergents are biodegradable. Although they may be safe in a septic tank in moderation, they could leach toxic chemicals into the drain field and potentially contaminate the groundwater and surface water. If you use a greywater irrigation system, you’ll need to opt for more eco-conscious laundry detergents for septic systems.

Tide Purclean

To the delight of Tide enthusiasts, some of the brand’s products compete with the best septic-safe laundry detergents on the market. Tide Purclean is a concentrated liquid laundry detergent consisting of plant-based ingredients.

You don’t have to worry about hazardous dyes, phosphates, and other chemicals that can damage septic tanks. Purclean is a great option if you’re concerned about keeping your septic system healthy but don’t want to compromise on cleaning power.

Are Tide Detergent Pods Safe for Septic Tanks?

Tide detergent pods add an extra layer of efficiency to one of the most effective liquid laundry detergents available. They’re generally safe, but like liquid detergent, they may be too sudsy for an aerated septic system. Powder detergent is usually better for these systems if you go the conventional laundry detergent route.

Fortunately, many liquid laundry detergents on this list use suds-reducing ingredients. Without the surfactants and harsh chemicals you’ll find in other laundry detergents, these products prevent clogs and ensure the natural bacteria will thrive no matter your septic system style.

Protect Your Septic System with Green Cleaning Services

A septic system requires extra attention, and your daily responsibilities don’t end with choosing a safe laundry detergent. Everything that goes down the drain needs to be safer, which is why green cleaning is crucial.

At Anita’s, we partner with top-rated green cleaning experts to give your home the care it demands, keeping your septic system safe and protecting your family’s health. Request a booking with a local professional today, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with eco-friendly cleaning.


Anita's Housekeeping Editors