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15 Things You Should Never Flush Down Your Toilet

Updated Jan 12, 2023

Updated Jan 12, 2023

Home > Maintenance & Renovation > 15 Things You Should Never Flush Down Your Toilet

Some people view a toilet as a wastebasket that allows them to flush away everyday items easily. Unfortunately, many things that end up in a toilet should never be flushed and may cause severe clogging in a home’s wastewater plumbing system.

You may face an overflowing toilet, a broken toilet, or severe damage to your pipes. A broken toilet alone can cost hundreds of dollars to fix, so avoiding this problem is recommended. 

Here are 15 things you should never flush down your toilet to keep your pipes clog-free.

1. Feminine Hygiene Products

storage of different feminine hygiene products
Image Source: Canva

Generally, human waste and toilet paper are the only two items you should flush down a toilet. This is surprising to many people using feminine products as it seems natural to toss pads or tampons in the toilet. However, there is an excellent reason why public bathrooms post signs advising users never to flush feminine hygiene products. 

Menstrual products expand and retain fluids, so they won’t dissolve after being flushed down the pipes. Instead of throwing these products in the toilet, wrap them in toilet paper and throw them in a garbage can. 

2. Condoms

Condoms are typically made of latex rubber or plastic material. Both of these materials are not designed to break down in water, making them unsuitable to be flushed down a toilet. It can take some types of latex years to biodegrade, so never add these to the water treatment sewage. Like feminine products, wrap a used condom in toilet paper and toss it in a waste receptacle. 

3. Flushable Wipes

Unfortunately, products like makeup wipes, cleaning wipes, or moist towelettes advertised as “flushable” should never be tossed in a toilet. Wet wipes will not disintegrate in water, leading to severe clogs. Even if the wipes go down the toilet, they can back up sewer lines. In fact, “flushable” items are some of the most regularly found things in broken pumps or clogged pipes in the sanitary sewer system. 

4. Dental Floss

Most dental floss is made of tough Teflon or nylon, which will not dissolve in water. In addition, even though dental floss is thin, it can quickly wrap around other items in your plumbing system and cause significant blockages. Resist the urge to toss dental floss in the toilet. Instead, drop it in a waste receptacle. 

5. Diapers and Baby Wipes

wet baby wipes sitting on a toilet
Image Source: Canva

Flushing a tiny baby’s diaper down the toilet may not seem like a big deal. However, diapers and “flushable” baby wipes are apt to clog the toilet. Instead, toss used baby wipes in the trash. To dispose of a diaper, roll up the diaper and secure the ball with its built-in adhesive strips, then place it in a small plastic bag and toss it into a trash can. 

6. Prescription Medications

The water in your toilet flows through the pipes in your home into your city’s septic system.  As a result, flushing expired prescription medications and pharmaceuticals down a toilet will contaminate the water system. The medication will likely dissolve, but you’ve polluted the water supply with the medicine. This pollution can harm others who may eventually drink or bathe in sanitized water from the city’s water treatment plant. Medications can also cause toxic environmental effects if the water is used to water plants or seeps into the ground. 

7. Cotton Balls & Cotton Swabs

Q-tips, cotton balls, and cotton swabs are standard items in anybody’s bathroom, whether you use them to remove makeup, apply skincare products, or clean your ears. You should never throw these items into the toilet. 

Cotton swabs and Q-tips frequently get stuck in drain pipe bends, catching anything else that flushes down the toilet, causing giant clogs. If these products don’t get stuck, they’re still a problem because they won’t break down like toilet paper. Instead, they’ll clump together and eventually build up, creating massive problems. 

8. Tissues & Paper Towels

While tissues and paper towels may be the first thing you grab if you run out of toilet paper, they aren’t safe for flushing. Paper towels are tough on the sewer system because manufacturers design paper towels to be hardy and absorbent. As a result, these products stay strong when exposed to liquids, making them more likely to clog a toilet.

If you need to use paper towels or tissues instead of toilet paper in a pinch, toss them into a waste basket. 

9. Kitty Litter

Cat litter turns into hard chunks after your cat does its business, especially “clumping” varieties which often have sand and clay to help bind moisture. Clean up after your kitty by sliding the waste and used litter into a disposable bag, then seal the bag before tossing it into a trash can. 

10. Hair

woman holding hair fall from hairbrush
Image Source: Canva

If you’re cleaning your hairbrush or the hair out of your shower drain, don’t fling the hair clumps into the toilet. Hair doesn’t dissolve and will catch on projections inside the pipes. When other waste enters the pipes, it will snag onto the hair, eventually forming large clogs that a plumber must address with a drain snake. Avoid this mess by tossing hair into a wastebasket. 

11. Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are harmful to the water system because they contain toxic synthetic chemicals which can seep into the water. If you’re folding bathroom towels and find a rogue dryer sheet, don’t flush it down the toilet. 

12. Cigarette Butts

Cigarette butts contain toxic chemicals, which will be added to the water in the sewage system if you flush them down a toilet. They can also cause clogs and an overflowing toilet. 

13. Food Products

Food items, like coffee grounds, chewing gum, food, and cooking grease, can clog a toilet. Cooking grease is especially bad because it can congeal within pipes, causing them to thicken and expand. Chewing gum is insoluble and sticky, making it a higher-risk item to flush down a toilet because it can stick to the sides of pipes. Since chewing gum isn’t soluble, it won’t disintegrate, either. While other food items are biodegradable, they shouldn’t be flushed down a toilet because of the risk of blockages. 

14. Fish

You may have heard about people flushing their deceased pet fish down the toilet. This isn’t a good idea because fish will not break down in the water, increasing the risk of a clog in your home’s pipes. Instead, give your pet fish a proper burial or wrap it and dispose of it in the trash. 

15. Bleach

bleach sitting in a rack
Image Source: Canva

You may be shocked to learn that you should never flush bleach down a toilet because some people recommend cleaning a toilet with bleach or cleaning products with bleach. However, bleach is far too harsh for the septic system and toilet. Consider cleaning with vinegar or “softer” cleaning products that are safe for your pipes. This will save you from expensive repairs in the future.

Final Thoughts

Remember, our sewer systems are specifically designed to transport water, human waste, and toilet paper. You should never flush other items down a toilet. Even if an item flushes down once, it doesn’t mean that your pipes or the general sewer system are unharmed, so don’t risk needing to call a plumber for expensive repairs and a massive mess by tossing anything other than toilet paper in the toilet. 

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