Lime for Sewage ,Septic Smell & Cleanup -How to Use & Effectiveness

Wondering if Lime Can be used for Sewage Spill Cleanup? What about neutralizing Septic Smells?

In this guide you will learn:

  • Just how Effective is lime for Odor and Sewer smell control,
  • How to Use Lime for Sewage Cleanup & to neutralize sewage spills,
  • Ways Lime can be used under your crawlspace,
  • How to use Lime in your Septic System.

Due to Lime’s alkaline properties, Lime products have proven themselves to be extremely useful in neutralizing sewage odors and sewage spills.

This is the same kind of lime that you may find yourself using to keep your lawn nice and green. 

It’s important to note before any further steps are taken to clean up sewage spills, that lime can be very harmful to humans and animals. 

When you’re using lime, be sure to use protective equipment such as goggles, gloves, boots, masks, protective clothes, etc. If any skin were to come into contact with it, wash the exposed skin with lots of water.

If lime gets in your mouth, rinse it out and don’t induce vomiting. If any symptoms either progress or don’t improve within half an hour to an hour, then be sure to get medical attention.  

Lime for Sewer Smell

Lime can absolutely be used for sewer odor removal and to remove persistent sewage smells in your home. 

This is not only because of Lime’s high pH, which helps neutralize it, but also because the calcium ions within it combine with the sulfur molecules of the sewage to create non-odorous particles.  

This is good to know because that means Lime isn’t simply putting some fragrance over the stench of your sewer smell, but actually changing it into a neutral one through a chemical reaction.

It’s fortunate to note that this change is able to happen almost immediately, once the lime is applied to the affected area.  

Also, something else to consider is if there is a difference in the effectiveness between, say, a wide-opened backyard or in a closed-off basement.

In either case, the lime should neutralize the smell just as quickly. 

But, in the case of the spill being in your basement, ventilation is something to watch out for, while the lime is out.

If you start to feel dizzy while using it, get to fresh air and make sure to stay there until you can comfortably breathe. 

What Kind Of Lime Should Be Used For Odor Removal?

The kind of lime that you’d want to use would fit under the category of caustic lime. 

They might be called either quicklime or calcium hydroxide (i.e. hydrated lime).  

These are beneficial to use because they act much quicker when it comes to sewer smell removal than some of the lighter versions of the lime mineral. 

However, hydrated lime is much more caustic, which means it is much more potent and can burn grass if applied too thickly. 

Therefore, you’ll want the quicklime, if it’s a grassier area.   And the hydrated lime will do better for use of either soil or cement.

How To Use Lime For Sewer Smell

The steps here are pretty similar to that of cleaning up actual sewer spills, which I’ll go into greater detail later in the article, but here is what you do for odors:  

  • Firstly, you’re going to want to locate the source of the sewer smell.
  • Then you’ll want to crack out your lime and sprinkle a generous amount on top of the area that the sewage smell is coming from, about half a cup per square foot  
  • Then sprinkle a large circle of the lime around the source of the smell, in order to get any particles that might have splashed farther out
  • Give it a day to allow the lime to soak up any smell
  • Then begin to shovel up what you can into a thick plastic garbage bag.  Whatever you’re unable to pick up, simply wash it away into the soil
  • If, when it dries, there’s still white powder, rinse the area with water again, and be sure to repeat until there’s no more powder when dry. 

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Lime for Sewage Cleanup / Spills

Lime is excellent for neutralizing sewage spills. In fact, variations of the lime mineral have been used to deal with sewage for over a hundred years. 

The EPA regulation is to have lime applied to any sewage or wastewater sludges.  

The lime causes a chemical change within the sewage waste.  Due to the high pH level of the mineral (it can go as high as 12.4), it’s able to raise the pH of the waste when mixed together. 

And when pH levels of the sewage are over 12 and with higher temperatures, the harmful pathogens in sewage are killed.  

The lime is also very deadly towards flies, gnats, and other insects, because it dehydrates them if they try to eat it. 

So there’s the added benefit of keeping them from further infecting the waste.

What Lime To Use For Sewage Cleanup?

In order to kill the most pathogens most effectively, you’re going to want to use caustic lime for this as well. 

You can use quicklime for the sewage cleanup.  However, the safer option, in this case, would be the hydrated lime. 

You’ll need the potency to kill any chance of the pathogens surviving in the Sewage Spill

How To Use Lime For Sewage Cleanup and Add It To Sewer Spill:

  • The first thing you’ll want to do is wear protective gear and abide by the safety rules outlined above
  • Then close off the infected area so that no one wanders into it
  • Next, remove whatever you can from the sewage spill either by hand tools, or a shop vacuum.  Try to remove all visible liquids and solid materials from the area
  • Add a generous amount of lime on top of the spill.  Try to get the pH up to 12 in order to properly kill the bacteria
  • If there is an area of leftover waste that seems to be thicker, then add extra lime in that place then use a shovel or rake to mix the lime within the sewage
  • After giving a day for the mineral to work its magic, rake up what you can and place it in a thick plastic bag
    • It’s important to note that a regular trash bag won’t do the trick here.  You definitely don’t want it tearing and having sewage all over your yard
  • After you’re able to get the major chunks of lime out, be sure to rinse the area with enough water so it absorbs into the soil  
  • Then wait a day.  If it dries to still have white powder in the area, rinse it again until the powder is gone.

Lime for Crawl Space

There might be a sewage pipe that either has burst or is leaking in your crawl space.

Lime Can be effectively used to neutralize the sewage spill under your house and to remove any sewage smells.

Additionally, if there are any leakages coming through the floorboards such as grease spills, it might be worth adding some lime to the area.

Which Lime Can I Put Under My House?

Once again, you’ll want to use caustic lime for your crawl space. 

This can be either hydrated lime or quicklime.  Then this will be able to break down the sewage waste more efficiently in your crawl space.

Cleaning up Sewage Spills In Crawl Space

The way to clean a crawl space would be quite similar to cleaning up sewage. 

It is imperative to note that ventilation will likely be the biggest issue that you face in a crawl space. 

So while a mask and other protective gear are highly recommended while working with lime in open areas, it’s absolutely necessary to have it when contained in a crawl space. 

This would be a space better entered by a professional.  Nonetheless, here is how you could clean the sewage in your crawl space with lime:

  • Remove whatever you can from the sewage spill either by hand tools, or a shop vacuum.  Remove all visible liquids and solid materials from the area
  • Then add a generous amount of lime on top of the spill.  Get the pH up to 12 to properly kill the bacteria
  • After giving a day, rake up what you can and place it in a thick plastic bag
  • After you are able to get the major chunks of lime out, be sure to rinse the area with enough water so that it absorbs into the soil
  • Give it a day, and if it dries to still have white powder in the area, rinse it again until the powder is gone.

Lime for Septic System

Wondering if Lime can be used in your septic tank or if it has the possibility of hurting your septic system?

You can use lime in a septic tank and system, however, it must be used a lot more sparingly as compared to the other situations.

The thing to know about Septic Tanks is that it acts as almost an underground compost pile, in that it’s pretty self-sufficient for the most part, with as you might say “good bacteria” breaking down the waste and filtering itself. 

So if you add too much lime to it, you’ll kill not only the toxic pathogens, but also the bacteria that are helpful to the tanks process.

The best thing to help the system keep going is to flush down some more helpful bacteria every month or so to aid the process, such as a packet of brewer’s yeast. 

And if there is any sewage smell coming from the piping, which you might attribute to the tank, then it may be time for it to be pumped by a professional.

However, as a short-term solution you can try adding a bit of lime to the septic tank to help deal with the septic system smell.

In this case you won’t want to use any caustic lime, since this would cause a greater likelihood of throwing off the sewage’s ecosystem. 

Instead, try using the much tamer, non-caustic lime such as calcitic or dolomitic. 

If these are flushed, that will be able to help with the smell without any devastating consequences.

Lime can be added to the septic tank by either running it through the kitchen sink or flushing it down the toilet. 

Approximately 5 kg of lime are needed for a regular-sized septic tank.  And be sure to rinse it through with lots of extra water.

Where to Buy Lime for Sewer Smell / Cleanup?

Most Home Improvement stores will have all kinds of lime, such as Lowe’s,  Home Depot, Ace, or any other number of places. 

Furthermore, any place that has more in-depth gardening materials will have it.

Baking Soda vs. Lime

The biggest difference between the two is that Baking soda is not nearly as harmful towards people or animals as lime is.

Therefore, baking soda can be placed in bowls around the house to try and absorb the odor without directly being applied. 

Additionally, it is much more available than lime, so you’ll be able to find it at any store much easier than lime.  

However, when Lime is applied to the sewage, the diffusion of the odor will happen much more quickly, so lime is definitely more efficient in terms of the actual work being done. 

When to Call A Professional

Any of the problems addressed above are certainly reasons enough to call a professional as using lime can be very dangerous to your health in certain situations.

A professional will have a much easier time getting sewer spills cleaned up, with much fewer risks.  

But, if you choose to try the methods yourself, then that is up to your discretion. 

However, if you do it yourself, but there doesn’t seem to be any improvement on your situation, consider reaching out to a professional. 


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