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20 Things You Should NEVER Flush Down the Toilet

things safe to flush down toilet
Homeowner February 5, 2020
Arthur Brodskiy
Arthur Brodskiy

Toilets are one of those underappreciated modern conveniences. Sometimes we take them for granted. Sometimes we even use them as a garbage disposal, which is one of the worst plumbing habits you can have.  

There are lots of things you should never flush down the toilet. In fact, there’s only a few things you should flush down the toilet, but just to raise some awareness, we’ve gathered this list of 20 common things that you should think twice about flushing.

 

1. Paper Towels

 

People might use paper towels if they run out of toilet paper. Paper towels aren’t designed to disintegrate in water like toilet paper, meaning they could eventually lead to a clog in your toilet, or even worse, deeper in your plumbing lines. 

 

2. Tissues

 

Tissues might seem lightweight enough to flush, but they’re just as bad as paper towels for your toilet. Tissues (and paper towels) belong in the trash. 

 

3. Baby Wipes

 

Baby wipes and their adult wipe counterparts are sometimes sold with the misleading promise of being “flushable.” While they will technically flush, that doesn’t mean they’re going to make the entire journey through your pipes. Throw the wipes in the waste bin. 

 

4. Facial Wipes

 

 Just like baby wipes, these are another thing you shouldn’t flush, no matter how small they are. 

 

5. Diapers

 

diaper

 

Believe it or not, people have flushed these down the toilet. In the off chance a diaper actually completely flushes, it’s almost certain to cause a blockage in your pipes. Diapers are designed to absorb moisture, so they’ll expand and get stuck. 

 

6. Feminine Products

 

Feminine hygiene products are made with cotton, which is can easily get caught or snagged in your pipes. On top of that, they are just like diapers in that they absorb water and expand, making them more likely to cause a blockage. Investing in a bathroom waste bin with a lid can help you keep these out of sight. 

 

7. Cotton Swabs/Balls

 

Cotton has a bad habit of clinging to other cotton. So if you’re a habitual flusher of cotton products, you could be creating a big ball of cotton somewhere in your pipes. If you keep feeding that monster, prepare to write a check to your local plumber. 

 

8. Condoms

 

Condoms are one of those things you want to discretely and completely dispose of. But the toilet is not the place to do it. They can clog up your pipes and introduce microplastics into the environment. Wrap them up in the wrapper and throw them in the garbage. 

 

9. Grease and Oil

 

It might seem like a good idea to put hot, liquid grease in the toilet to avoid having to pour it in the kitchen sink or put it in the trash can. But grease doesn’t stay liquid for long, and it can solidify in your pipes and give you a clog. Your best bet is to let it cool in the pan and scrape it into the garbage can.

 

10. Food

 

what can you flush down toilet

 

Sure, we technically flush food down the toilet every day. But your drain pipes are designed for digested food, and food scraps are generally going to cause some problems. 

 

11. Dental Floss

 

The occasional flushed length of dental floss probably won’t do much harm. But when you are constantly flushing floss down the toilet, you’re just asking for trouble. Floss can get tangled with other floss, form a net and create a big blockage in your plumbing. Please, put the floss in the trash. 

 

12. Pills

 

The hollywood image of someone desperately dumping medication in the toilet is a common trope. But as we know, movies don’t always reflect real life. Pills and other medications are full of chemicals that shouldn’t go anywhere near the water supply. 

 

13. Cigarettes

 

Cigarette butts are bad for a couple of reasons. First, the filters can build up in your pipes and lead to a nasty clog. That’s bad enough, but consider the more important drawback to flushing cigarette butts down the toilet: they’re toxic. Waste treatment centers are great at filtering out organic matter from water, but all the nasty chemicals in cigarettes do some serious harm to the ecosystem. 

 

14. Cat Litter

 

Cat litter (and the stuff your cat adds to it) contain plenty of toxins that could be harmful to the water supply. Waste treatment facilities are designed to treat water with human waste, and adding cat waste to the mix can pose some environmental threats. Make sure that kitty litter gets into the garbage. 

 

15. Hair

 

Hair is one of the most common bathroom drain cloggers. It’s usually the culprit behind bathtub and sink clogs, but it can do the same thing to your toilet. As with most things on the this list, try to keep the hair in the garbage and out of your toilet bowl. 

 

16. Chewing Gum

 

gum down toilet

 

It’s not easy to break down gum. Yes, the acids in your stomach will do the job (putting to rest that old rumor about swallowing gum), but it’s impervious to the water in your pipes. What’s worse is that gum is sticky. If it manages to cling to the inside of your drain pipe, it could latch onto other things, restrict water flow and ultimately lead to clogs or leaks. 

 

17. Bleach

 

Bleach can be corrosive, doing harm to your pipes. And if you’ve used any sort of toilet bowl cleaner in the recent past, adding bleach could actually lead to a dangerous chemical reaction. Just stick to cleaning products designed specifically for your toilet. 

 

18. Fish

 

The practice of giving your poor, dead goldfish a burial at sea is pretty common. The problem with sending even small fish into your drain pipes is that they take a long time to decompose. Until that happens, they could be sitting in your pipes creating an obstacle for the other flushable things passing by. 

 

19. Band-aids

 

Band-aids are mostly plastic and are not biodegradable. While flushing these things in the toilet may keep them out of sight, you could be headed toward some heavy plumbing bills down the road. 

 

20. Contact lenses

 

Flushing contact lenses poses more of an environmental threat than anything else. While they will eventually break down, they’re not biodegradable. Which means that tiny microplastics will remain, and they’ll end up getting out into the ecosystem where they can threaten marine life. Do the planet a favor and put your old lenses in the trash. 

 

Conclusion

 

When it comes to flushing things in the toilet, there’s two things to consider: immediate and long-term effects on your own plumbing system, and the effects on the environment. It might seem easy to just flush away certain things, but you could be setting yourself up for a future disaster. Keep a trash bin next to your toilet to help you avoid the temptation.

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