Is Citric Acid Safe for Septic Tanks?

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Written By Jamila W.
citric acid

Is citric acid safe for septic tanks? Yes, Citric acid negatively affects the septic system when misused. The safety of your septic system is essential, and the cleaning product you use plays a crucial role.

I aim to ensure that you use products that are easily biodegradable and free from harsh chemicals. I support green living and using eco-friendly products. My knowledge and experience with cleaning products ensure you get the correct information. We will cover the following topics.

  • The functionality of a septic system
  • How to mix vinegar with citric acid
  • The safety concerns of citric acid on septic tanks
  • Natural cleaning products for your septic systems

If you are interested in learning about this and much more, keep reading.

What Is Citric Acid?

citric acid

Citric acid comes from citrus fruits like lemons and limes. People use citric acid as a preservative and flavor enhancer in foods. Citric acid is also a cleaning agent that can remove hard stains. For a long time, people have used citric acid to clean and remove scale from surfaces.

You can buy citric acid powder in stores or online. The common ingredient in citric acid is lemon juice, which contributes to its fresh, natural scent.

How Does the Septic System Work?

septic tank

A septic system is an underground waste management system that treats wastewater on your property. The goal is to separate solid waste from liquid waste. Bacteria and organisms break down contaminants in the wastewater. The treated water can then return to the environment or be reused for watering plants.

A septic system has two main parts – a septic tank and a drain field. Bacteria breaks down solids into smaller pieces inside the septic tank. The drainage field filters out the particles and absorbs the water into the soil and gravel underground.

Essential oils can help septic systems because they naturally have bacteria that assist in breaking down solids. Bath bombs are popular fizzy products that make baths more relaxing and luxurious.

Dishwasher detergent is used to clean dishes and kitchen surfaces. You can buy septic tank additives to improve operation and prevent costly repairs.

What Is Septic Safe?

Is citric acid septic safe? I wish more people had asked that question. Many ingredients in the ones I’ve seen make me worried. If living naturally and removing toxins is important, use homemade Washing Powder and Dishwashing Tablets. They send ingredients like citric acid, baking soda, washing soda, vinegar, BoraxBorax, and castile soap down the drain.

Natural, biodegradable ingredients are best because they won’t kill the bacteria in your septic system. But that doesn’t mean you should pour a bucket of vinegar down the toilet. Small amounts should be acceptable; it’s all about balance.

Can You Mix Citric Acid With White Vinegar?

Citric Acid With White Vinegar

White vinegar doesn’t mix well with many cleaning products, including baking soda. This property sometimes makes it hard to mix it up with most products.

You can’t mix white vinegar with sodium bicarbonate because baking soda is a base, and vinegar is an acid – acetic acid specifically. Bases and acids neutralize each other, leaving salty water that is not good for cleaning.

Can you mix citric acid and vinegar? Yes, you can combine them. Citric acid is also an acid. Mixing two acids, like citric acid and vinegar, does not cause a reaction.

However, there’s usually no need to mix citric acid and vinegar. Citric acid alone effectively removes limescale. Vinegar also has its cleaning uses.

Can You Use Citric Acid Solution to Clean Your Septic Tank?

Septic Tank

Is citric acid bad for septic tanks? Citric acid can clean septic tanks by removing solids that have built up, which helps prevent clogging. However, experts warn against using too much citric acid since it could kill the helpful bacteria in the septic system.

It’s best to use small amounts of citric acid, no more than 5%, occasionally to remove scale or bad smells. Some states limit how much acid can go into septic tanks. So, before using any product with citric acid, check your local rules. Using too much citric acid in your septic tank could be illegal where you live.

What Are the Safety Concerns of Citric Acid?

Citric acid is a common natural cleaning ingredient, but it is still a chemical that requires safe handling.

If it gets in the eyes, citric acid can cause irritation, swelling, redness, and watery eyes. Be careful when using citric acid cleaners – don’t rub your eyes before washing your hands thoroughly.

Prolonged skin contact with citric acid may lead to irritation, redness, and swelling. Consider wearing gloves when using citric acid, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Ingesting large amounts of citric acid can result in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Keep citric acid and citric acid-based cleaners out of reach of children and pets.

Breathing in citric acid powder can irritate the throat and lungs, causing coughing, sore throat, or shortness of breath. When measuring out citric acid, do so in a room with open windows to avoid respiratory problems.

While these risks may seem scary, many conventional cleaners pose similar hazards. With proper handling and precautions, citric acid is unlikely to be more dangerous than typical cleaning products. The key is using common sense when working with this natural yet potentially irritating substance.

Why Should You Use Natural Products for Your Septic Systems?

Septic Tank

Is citric acid safe for septic systems? When you have a healthy septic system, you are guaranteed functionality throughout. To get the best results, you must consider using natural cleaning products. There are benefits to taking these measures besides being more environmentally friendly. Here is why you should switch to natural products for your septic tank.

  • Septic tanks need bacteria to break down waste. Using natural products helps keep the bacteria balanced in the tank.
  • Natural cleaning products won’t kill the good bacteria like harsh chemicals can. Your septic system stays functional throughout when you use natural products.
  • Many natural cleaners work just as well as chemical ones but are cheaper. The price difference is negligible, especially when you use them in small amounts.
  • Natural cleaners are safer for kids, pets, and the environment since they have no toxic ingredients. You are not at risk of coming into contact with chlorine bleach or ammonia, which are harmful substances.
  • Most natural cleaners are biodegradable, so they won’t clog pipes or hurt septic systems.
  • Natural cleaners release less harmful gases(Volatile Organic Compounds) that can be bad to breathe.
  • Natural products prevent buildup of solids and grease that can clog pipes and drain fields over time.
  • Natural products are better for the environment because they don’t put synthetic chemicals into the soil or groundwater.

How Would You Know Cleaning Products Are Safe?

Many companies still don’t list all their ingredients, even though people want more transparency. Label redesigns are expensive, or companies may be hiding something. However, the EPA helps consumers find safer cleaning products for people, pets, and the environment with their Safer Choice program.

Almost 20 years ago, the EPA had a “Design for the Environment” label on safer products. After talking to companies, health advocates, and consumers, they changed to the new Safer Choice label. Right now you can easily choose cleaning and other products having all the necessary information you need.

Companies voluntarily put the Safer Choice label on their products. These companies spend a lot on research to meet Safer Choice standards. They are leaders in safe and sustainable products, says the EPA.

You can trust that the EPA reviews all ingredients in Safer Choice products and is very safe, no matter how much of that ingredient is used. This is important because many products claim to be “natural,” “green,” or “environmentally friendly” without oversight.

Some only have a small percentage of safe ingredients. So you can choose products with a base knowledge of the ingredients used.

Safer Choice products must also work as well as conventional ones. Packaging must be sustainable. pH levels must be safe. And volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are limited.

On the Safer Choice website, consumers can search their listings of safe products and chemicals. For citric acid, the search shows the chemical as a low concern based on EPA data.

So, citric acid is considered very safe and an excellent substitute for conventional cleaners. It works well, is affordable, and is easy to find in many household cleaning products.

What Are the Tips for Having a Cleaner Septic Tank?

Change begins with you at home. For the best performance, you should properly maintain your septic tank. There are some simple tips you can follow to prevent costly repairs in the long run. We will explore these simple tips in detail, so take notes and try them at home.

Maintain Proper Records

It is recommended to keep all septic tank records together, including system plans, drawings, and other relevant documents. Also, preserve all service records for the future. These records contain important information about the tank and its service history. This includes when parts were installed, repairs done, and the last service date. Future septic service providers may need to look at these records to check for potential issues.

Change Laundry Intervals

It’s best to spread laundry loads over the week instead of doing it all at once. Also, consider using dryer sheets, biodegradable detergents, and low-phosphate soap. This helps the septic system handle the wastewater better.

Regular Repair and Maintenance of Fixtures

Leaky fixtures can waste a lot of water that goes into the wastewater system. Getting fixtures repaired and serviced regularly helps prevent leaks and extend the life of your septic tank.

Reduce the Use of Water Softeners

Water softeners are useful in hard water areas but should be on a timer. Water softeners can contain compounds that are risky for septic systems. Using a timer regulates the water softener and avoids potential problems.

Avoid Colored Toilet Paper Products

Toilet paper has many varieties, but stick to single or double-ply white toilet paper, not colored. Colored toilet paper takes longer to break down, so it can accumulate and clog the septic tank. Also, avoid flushing paper towels, napkins, or wipes. Their material is too tough for bacteria to decompose quickly.

Don’t Dispose of Food in Septic Tanks

Although local regulatory authorities may allow it, it would be much safer for you to dispose of large quantities of food in garbage cans. By doing this, you will be reducing the number of solids in the septic tank and the need for frequent removal of the same.

Don’t Dispose Grease, Fats, and Oils

Bacteria can overload septic systems because of vegetable oil and animal fats. These two are among the leading causes since they cannot be easily broken down. If possible, don’t flash these oils and grease down the drain. They don’t easily break down and might clog your septic tank.

Disinfectants and Cleansers

Will citric acid hurt a septic system? While citric acid and chlorine are biodegradable, it’s best to use them properly according to product directions. Avoid pine oil cleaners and ammonia products. Only use them if needed to unclog pipes.

Garage Floor and Workroom Drains

Do not dispose of any waste from the garage into the drain system. Garage drains are oils, grease, brake fluids, and other non-biodegradable wastes. These petroleum-based products don’t break down easily and might block your septic system.

Don’t Flush Drugs

Never flush medications down the drain. Flushed antibiotics and other medicines can damage septic system effectiveness. Leftover medications should be disposed of safely by returning them to your doctor or throwing them in the trash.


Is Lemon Juice Safe for Septic Systems?

Yes, Lemon juice is generally considered safe for septic systems when used in moderation. The citric acid in lemons can help freshen up smelly drains and keep things flowing smoothly. However, it’s important not to overdo it with lemon juice, as large amounts dumped simultaneously can disrupt the bacterial balance in your septic system.

Is There a Septic-Safe Alternative to Bleach?

Yes, BoraxBorax makes an excellent substitute for bleach when cleaning sinks and tubs. It kills bacteria and mildew while whitening surfaces. Natural products like baking soda and washing soda are also septic-safe for cleaning when used sparingly.


You can use Citric acid to clean septic tanks only in small amounts. Too much citric acid can damage the helpful bacteria in septic systems. It’s best to use natural, biodegradable cleaners for septic tanks.

Products with the EPA’s Safer Choice label are recommended because they are reviewed for safety. Maintaining your septic tank by avoiding grease, minimizing water use, and proper waste disposal will help it function properly. Using citric acid carefully, along with other septic-safe practices, keeps your system working well.