It might be a surprise that many people flush almost anything down the toilet, thinking it is just going to end up in the sewer. Unfortunately, there are plenty of things that can damage your sewer line by being flushed down the toilet. There are also substances that can impact the environment negatively. Let’s explore common items that should never be flushed down the toilet.
The term “flushable” is misleading when placed on wet wipe packages. Wet or baby wipes are not degradable like toilet paper is. Eventually, these wipes will clog your waste or sewer line if repeatedly flushed down the toilet. A better option is to place a waste receptacle with a lid near the toilet so that wipes can be disposed of properly.
Feminine Hygiene Products
While adults might know that sanitary napkins and tampons have no place in a toilet, adolescents and teens might not have gotten the message. Packaging should have a warning on the label stating that these items should be disposed of in the trash. This may be one of the most common reasons plumbers are called for clogged pipes and sewer repair.
While on the subject of personal care items, let’s not forget that condoms also do not belong in the toilet. Latex simply does not break down easily. Sewer treatment facilities cannot adequately process this material.
Tiny particles of medications can survive septic systems and wastewater filtering. This presents a clear danger to animals when the drugs end up in streams and rivers. There is also a risk to humans if antibiotics and opioids make it back into the drinking water supply or are found in the fish or farmed food we eat. The CDC strongly recommendsthat you dispose of your unused or expired medication at a local drop-off location that is often a health department office or police headquarters.
Food and Grease
It is quite baffling that many think an apple core or a tea bag will just disappear when you flush them down the toilet. Food actually takes some time to disintegrate and can easily build up and get lodged in your waste line. Think about how long it takes for food to break down in a compost pile. Grease is one of the worst food items that you can put down any drain. When it comes in contact with cold water, it tends to solidify.
Dental Floss and Hair
It might seem harmless to floss your teeth and just toss that tiny string in the toilet. It also is easy to pull the loose hair strands from your comb and do the same. Stringy things have no place in your toilet or in the environment. These do not easily degrade. They also tend to get tangled and form balls that will block the pipes. Think about the wads of hair you clean out of your bathroom drain.
If you have ever noticed cigarette butts sitting in a public ashtray or ones that have been stomped out on the sidewalk, you already know that these can take forever to break down. The butts contain a form of acetate (plastic) that is detrimental to the environment. No part of a cigarette should ever hit the water in the bowl of a toilet. Take the smoke and the butts outside and dispose of them responsibly in the trash.
Toilets are not trash receptacles that you can place anything in other than human waste and toilet paper. By doing so you, you can damage your plumbing resulting in costly repairs. You also risk negatively impacting the environment. Do yourself and the planet a favor by not flushing the items listed here down the toilet.