Welcome Jessica. Interesting post. My understanding is that soap simply makes it hard for bacteria to stay attached to the surface of skin, so particles of all types are rinsed away.
On septic systems: A septic system only functions effectively only when it maintains the right balance of beneficial bacteria. This bacteria helps to break down solid waste, and prevents your septic system from backing up.
When you introduce certain chemicals into your septic system, the growth of good bacteria can be slowed, or the bacteria may even be completely eliminated. Less bacteria in your septic tanks means more odor, a slower system, more frequent pump outs, or even a costly and inconvenient repair.
Antibacterial soap is made to kill bacteria. This is great for cleaning, but terrible for your septic system. A septic system requires two types of bacteria to do its job: anaerobic bacteria, which doesn't require oxygen, and aerobic bacteria, which does require oxygen. Inside your septic tank, anaerobic bacteria is needed to break down solid waste, while aerobic bacteria in your system's leach field destroys harmful pathogens which can cause disease. Antibacterial soaps kills both types of bacteria.
Almost every homeowner uses antibacterial products. Besides antibacterial hand soap, septic system damaging antibacterial products include:
tile, sink, shower and tub cleaners;
toilet bowl cleaners;
counter-top cleaners, and
commercial and industrial cleaners.
Does this mean I have to sacrifice cleanliness to keep my septic system running?
No. In fact, the value of using antibacterial soap is highly disputed. The FDA states that antibacterial soap is not shown to be better at protecting against disease or infections than correctly washing with normal soap and hot water. In addition, there are multiple studies which conclude that the use of antibacterial soap may actually decrease the ability of user's immune system to fight off sickness, and may not be safe for long-term use. --https://www.septicsafe.com/blog/the-dangers-of-antibacterial-soap-in-a-septic-tank/
I have started using Dawn for hand and dish washing. This is what they use on animals after an oil spill. Since all soap makes skin too slippery for germs to get a grip it's basically as effective as the antibacterial stuff. Rinses off easily and doesn't kill bacteria in the septic system, gentle on skin...what's not to like?
We had "risers" installed for quick and easy access to the settling tanks, covered by artifical rocks. We get a discount on having it pumped since they don't have to dig. The real problem is with the paper products., which is why we pump regularly despite low flush toilets. Paper that gets into the deep tank will clog and fill it in fast.
The more I do, the less I accomplish.