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laureth's avatar

Why is 1-ply toilet paper better for septic systems when you have to use twice as much per sitting?

Asked by laureth (27091 points ) December 26th, 2011

I hear that when you have a septic tank, single ply TP is the way to “go.” However, you have to grab about twice as much paper in order to get the same results as a given amount of regular, two-ply paper. Wouldn’t that sort of negate the benefit of using the thin stuff? Please enlighten me!

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19 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

I believe its just a commercial ploy to get customers to buy more of their single sheet toilet paper.

I hate single sheet paper. It gives you too many “run-through” situations.

Remember toilet paper that had different colors? They pulled it off the shelves, when women were beginning to get infections from the dye they used.

And, have you noticed that toilet paper has been narrowed by an inch in width?

Nope. Double sheet and double rolls is the only way to “GO”.

filmfann's avatar

Maybe because the double ply is thicker, while the same amount of single is folded, and looser.
Imagine an 8 ply. You may only use a single sheet, but because of it’s manufactured thickness, it may not dissolve easily.

CWOTUS's avatar

It won’t matter terribly much how many ply it is as long as it’s a water-soluble paper. Not all are.

But in general, most people use too much toilet paper anyway, so “too much single-ply” is still going to be less volume than “too much multiple-ply”.

Blondesjon's avatar

It doesn’t matter what ply you use if you use both sides. This cuts your toilet paper usage by 50% and reduces the pressure on your septic system.

Coloma's avatar

I’m on a septic system up here in the hills and I use the powdered bacteria about once a month. I use whatever TP is on sale, and also use bleach in my washer, I haven’t had a septic issue for years, no need to pump the tank in like 8 years now. I must be doing something right. I never even think about it.

marinelife's avatar

Scott one-ply rapid dissolving is the best for septic systems. It dissolves four times fater than regular toilet paper.

geeky_mama's avatar

Like @Coloma we have septic and we use whatever TP we want.
I researched it and talked at length with our Septic guys (because I didn’t grow up rural using septic..so when we moved to the countryside I was worried I couldn’t keep using my favorite laundry detergents and so on..).
In fact, our septic system failed this past year-but it was because of compaction of non-native soils that crushed the septic drain field-and not anything to do with the tank or the system itself. (Which never backed up into the house, luckily.)
According to our trusted septic professionals.. the stuff that causes problems in your septic system are much more clumps of dryer lint from the washing machine that plug the pores of the septic drain field. TP and detergents—not so much unless you’re REALLY excessive.

Edited to note: I am actually pretty excessive with my detergent and TP usage and we have a family of 5, sometimes 6 here..and still don’t have problems. We use a LOT of water, too..with multiple loads of laundry and baths and so on..and still no septic issues.

bkcunningham's avatar

@geeky_mama, what is dryer lint from the washing machine?

@Coloma, there was a recent question and a discussion about septic systems. A user said they were told to not use yeast or other bacteria activation substances in the septic tank. I disagree with it and think it is plot to give more business to plumbers and tank pumpers. People have used bacteria enzymes for decades without any adverse reaction.

geeky_mama's avatar

@bkcunningham – ha! guess I needed some more caffeine before answering originally..
I meant the lint that comes from the gray water run-off from the washing machine. (Not the dryer.) We have a mesh sock type cover on the run-off from the washing machine..but even with that trace amounts (and it seems worse if I use too much liquid fabric softener) get into the septic. Apparently those bits of lint have great potential to clog the holes in the baffles of the drain field. Or..so I’m told.

JLeslie's avatar

I have septic and I use cottonelle two-ply no problem.

gasman's avatar

To make an educated guess: Even though the mass or volume of paper is no different, the surface area is greatly increased—practically doubled—by using single ply rather than 2-ply. The latter has half its surfaces facing each other, less available to undergo chemical breakdown that normally occurs at the surface interface, which involves 2-dimensional bio-films of micro-organisms.

Coloma's avatar

Well ya know, it must be my ex husband down there that’s keeping the bacteria balance so stable this last 8 years. hahaha ;-)

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma I am so going to steal that line and use it on my husband.

YARNLADY's avatar

@geeky_mama My Uncle keeps his washing machine on a separate line which drains directly into the back yard. That helps a lot.

It’s not true that we use twice as much single ply. Yes, we use more, but it’s closer to ⅔ thirds than double.

Coloma's avatar

Come to think of it I am pretty sure my washer in the garage drains somewhere else too. Hmmm…I am not positive I know this for sure. I just wait for things to happen and then I learn about them. lol

geeky_mama's avatar

@YARNLADY – I have heard of doing that..thanks for the good idea/reminder.
I wonder if it would work for us to try running a gray water line out of the laundry.. My only concern is that anywhere pipes aren’t heavily insulated (or running deep underground) we have problems with them freezing (we live in MN where it freezes pretty hard each winter).

YARNLADY's avatar

@geeky_mama Yes, that would be a problem. My relatives live in Southern California. Maybe a roll up after each use type plastic piping would work.

laureth's avatar

We want to set up a grey water reuse system, but in our state, the law mandates that it be connected to underwater watering lines only, and then that leads to the septic in case of overflow. Sigh.

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