What to put in septic tank to BREAK DOWN solids & sludge

Septic Tank Dude Author at Septic Tank Dude
Jack has been working all of his life in the septic tank maintenance, cleaning and pumping business. In 2020 when COVID hit he decided to retire from pumping septic tanks and use his knowledge to help out readers of Septic Tank Dude. Jack has a wealth of knowledge to share on septic tanks, leach fields and much more.
Jack Cacy

If you operate a septic tank or septic system then you are saving a lot of money vs connecting to the municipal sewer and paying monthly charges. When septic tanks get expensive is when there are septic problems such as an overflowing or clogged septic tank and blocked leach field or drain field.

In this article, we look at a septic tank treatment that is a simple and cost-effective maintenance treatment that breaks down solids, sludge and grease and some home remedies for a backed-up system that can reduce the need for septic tank pumping services.

What to put in septic tank to break down solids & sludge


Septic tank sludge dissolver – how to break down solids in a septic tank

Your septic tank is designed to use bacteria to break down solid waste by what is called the anaerobic digestion process. Unfortunately, with the naturally occurring bacteria, this happens slowly even in a healthy septic system, mainly because of the lack of oxygen.

That’s why one of the top colleges in the US developed one of the best septic tank treatments with the most effective natural way to break down solids and septic tank sludge, a tablet that is flushed down the toilet each month and costs less than $9 per month to treat septic tank sludge. Once the tablet reaches the septic system according to the company that manufactures the tablets in the US they:

  • reduce, then eliminate noxious odors (the smell) extremely fast – in just three to five days! The best way to get rid of septic tank odor outside
  • break down and eliminate all organic septic tank sludge from septic tanks, including natural oils, grease and organic hydrocarbons.
  • prevent back-ups, and clogs, and all other associated problems in septic tank systems, including corrosion.
  • reduce, and in many cases, eliminate the need to have your septic tank emptied!


don't wait for your septic to fail, prevent it


5 home remedies for a backed up septic tank

If you don’t want to pay for a monthly septic tank treatment to keep your septic system healthy, or pay for septic tank pumping services, the other option is to get your hands dirty (literally) with a mix of home remedies and manual labor. Be wary of many myths or home remedies to keep your septic tank clean as many of them are wives tales.

  1. Adding yeast to your septic tank – you have probably heard a friend or family member telling you about the yeast trick. That is you should put bakers yeast, baking yeast, active dry yeast or brewers yeast down your drain or toilet for a healthy bacterial ecosystem. The problem with this is you are not adding the right bacteria for your septic system. Solid waste that enters your septic tank system already has the bacteria needed for the anaerobic digestion process. Adding a different bacteria will not speed up the process, in fact it could harm the healthy bacterial ecosystem as the yeast and bacteria in the septic system will fight it out. Alternatively, you could have an over population of the wrong bacteria leading to excess gas and a bad smell coming from your septic.
  2. Stirring your septic system – It may sound unpleasant (and it is), but “septic stirring” just means using a stick or other long object to break down solids. Stirring your septic tank or breaking up the solid layer on top and the sludge at the bottom of the septic tank is a good solution for small buildups. This is a home remedy you need to do often to stop the septic sludge or solids from setting hard in your septic tank. Be warned, this is something you will need to commit to very regularly to have any success.
  3. Stop using bleach and chemicals – This is not so much a home remedy but a home precaution that will reduce the number of times you will need to call a septic professional or septic service. Adding harmful chemicals to your septic tank via your shower, sink, toilet bowl etc will harm the bacteria and stop your septic systems from functioning properly.
  4. Backflushing – Backflushing is a technique where you such the wastewater (not solid waste or grease/ scum) out of your septic tank with a wet vacuum and spray it back at the top layer of your septic system at high force. This technique does rely on you having the specialised equipment and it can be very smelly and often results in a lot of human waste spraying out of the septic tank.
  5. Pumping septic tanks – If you don’t want to invest in a septic maintenance treatment or proper maintenance then having periodic pumping of you septic tank system is the only other way to break down solids in your septic system and remove them for good with septic tank pumping or a septic tank maintenance plan.


homeowner with septic system treatment tablet


Helpful Facts About Additives

Additive Type Purpose Effectiveness
1. Bacterial additives Biological Break down solids and grease in the septic tank Effective for maintaining the bacterial balance and preventing buildup
2. Enzyme additives Biological Accelerate the breakdown of solids and grease May help in specific situations, but not a long-term solution
3. Chemical additives Chemical Dissolve solids and grease Not recommended due to potential damage to the septic system and the environment
4. Water conservation Non-additive Prevent overloading and allow more time for the breakdown of solids and grease Effective and recommended for overall septic system health


Frequently Asked Questions

household owner with treatmentHow do I clean my septic naturally?

Besides you owning a septic company or having your septic tank sucked periodically, you will need to look at a natural septic tank treatment or septic tank additives like a monthly maintenance tablet to do this for you. If you don’t find a solution to clean your septic tank you can start to get bad smells in the house and yard.


How do you dissolve grease in a septic tank?

Most houses have a grease trap in the drain line from the house to the septic system. Make sure that this is cleaned regularly to ensure as little grease is getting into your septic system and settling on the scum layers. Once the grease is in the scum layers of your septic system the bacteria will not break this down easily. You will need the same septic treatment mentioned above.


What enzymes break down grease?

To the best of our knowledge, there are no enzymes that break down grease, click here for the only septic treatment we know that does this.


What’s your advice on how to break up solids in septic tank?

You can follow the steps above to break down solids by stirring your septic system or backflushing your septic systems. The most effective way is to have your septic tank emptied. For information on what to do after you have had your personal septic tank pumped, read this article – “What to do after septic tank is pumped


How do I increase bacteria in my septic tank naturally?

You can increase aerobic bacteria or good bacteria in your septic system by avoiding chemicals, sulfuric acid, chlorinated hydrocarbons, drain cleaners and organic solvents if they do not state they are septic safe. Also, do not put things like feminine hygiene products and the wrong toilet paper into your toilet with septic waste from your household. Apart from that, you can add septic treatments or bacteria treatment to your tank each month. This type of biological additives treatment is ideal after professional septic pumping as all the natural bacteria will be gone from your system.


What is the best thing to put in your tank?

Apart from the septic tank treatments we have discussed, the correct question you should be asking is what should I avoid putting into my septic tank to avoid serious problems. Avoid:

  • Too much baking soda and white vinegar
  • Too much yeast (the yeast trick) including instant yeast, baking yeast, brewers yeast
  • Too much solid waste from a garbage disposal or kitchen garbage disposals including waste plant materials
  • Bleach, hydrogen peroxide, inorganic acids or other bad chemicals




How do I clean my septic tank naturally?

Having periodic tank pumped or septic tank cleaning will clean your tank but it won’t clean your leach field which can get clogged if the sludge layer gets too high in your tank. The best way to clean a septic system naturally is by using a natural septic tank maintenance treatment to keep on top of serious problems before they arise.

How do I get rid of sludge in my septic tank?

The septic sludge or the sludge layer are names for the solid wastes layer in your tank. The most effective way to get rid of septic sludge is by having them pumped out by a septic company that will remove the septic sludge from your tank. The next best option is using a treatment.


Solve your problems

Can you clean a septic tank yourself?

This will vary depending on your state or county law but unless you have a pumping truck you will not be able to transport the septic sludge and solids in your septic to an appropriate septic tank treatment plant to dispose of the harmful waste.

What happens if you don’t pump your septic tank?

We have a good article that covers What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Septic Tank.

How can septic sludge affect the leach field?

In a healthy system that is working correctly, only wastewater should be draining via your leach field or drain field, not septic sludge or solid waste. If your system is getting backed up or your septic system is overflowing then this is a big sign that either your outlet pipe or your leach field is blocked. This is why appropriate maintenance and periodic pumping will avoid costly expenses like having to have your leach field replaced or your drain field relocated because of solid waste blockages.

how he solved septic problems



best treatment


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