Toilets are a modern-day convenience that takes care of disposing of human waste. However, they are not so great at getting rid of other items. There are certain items you must never flush down your toilet to keep your drain pipes clog-free and the plumbing system running smoothly.
Even some items labeled as “flushable” result in clogged pipes and broken pumps throughout the sanitary sewer system and must never be flushed down your toilet. Here are a few things you should never dispose of in your toilet to prevent a plumbing emergency and save yourself from unnecessary stress and costly repair bills.
Paper Towels and Tissues
Paper towels are another item that is tough and not made to disintegrate in water, even the biodegradable kinds. While you might think they are not all that different from toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues designed to absorb water and not dissolve in it like toilet paper. Therefore, they are likely to block up your pipes and must be thrown down the trash can and not your toilet.
Even labels as “flushable” on the packaging must never be thrown into the toilet and flushed away. Wipes do not disintegrate or break down quickly the way toilet paper does and often cause drain blockages and clogs. Do yourself and us a favor. Keep a wastebasket in your bathroom and throw these there instead.
Dental floss is not a biodegradable item and cannot break up and dissolve in water. It is made from nylon or Teflon, and while it may look like a piece of tiny, harmless string, it is strong enough and wraps around all kinds of other stuff, creating mighty clogs. Any other similar stringy material has the same potential to cause clogs. You may continue to floss daily, but make sure to put it in the trash when done
Cotton Balls and Q Tips
While cotton balls and swaps may seem tiny enough to be thrown in the toiler, they are definitely not a safe item to put down your flush. They have the propensity for clumping together in your pipes and cause a clog. Save your plumbing and the sewer system by disposing of these in the wastebasket and not your toilet.
While it may seem convenient to dispose of a condom quickly after intercourse with your partner, you must never flush condoms down the toilet to prevent clogged drain pipes and sewer lines. Latex is not designed to break down easily in the water and does not biodegrade for years, and should not make its way in our water treatment system. Wrap a used condom in some toilet paper place it into the trash bin for safe disposal.
Tampons and Sanitary Pads
Tampons and pads get designed to absorb liquid and therefore do not dissolve after being flushed down the pipes. They will only expand several times larger than their original size when you flush them and will not break down easily in the sewer system. There is a good reason that many public restrooms have signs and little disposal bins encouraging women to throw away and not flush their menstrual products.
You should never flush medications or any other pills or drugs down your toilet. That is more of an environmental concern than a clogging one. Medications can contaminate the wastewater even more and can have a toxic effect on our water resources and the water we drink. As mentioned here, the safest way to dispose of unused medications is by dropping them off at a drug take-back site.
Just because it is organic does not mean it is environmentally friendly too. Like dental floss, sending large clumps of hair down the drain can contribute to the risk of your drain pipes getting clogged and cause massive blockages in the sewer system. Hair tends to stick inside of the sewer pipes catching onto other material as it flows. That gradually narrows the pipes’ interior as they build up, eventually causing clogs that may be difficult to remove. While a few stray hairs will not lead to any damage, do not flush giant balls of hair down the toilet and toss that tangle in the trash can instead.
Toilets are not garbage cans, so do not take them for granted for getting rid of your trash. Remember, our sewer systems were designed to flush down the basics, or the 3Ps, i.e. pee, poo, and (toilet) paper. Anything else is better off being tossed in the trash, as it may result in clogs and blockages in the broader wastewater system that can harm our environment and public health.