Some people find their toilets make a convenient trash can, since everything flushed seems to magically disappear! But getting rid of things that should go to the dump in your toilet is not a great idea. Toilets are made to dispose of human waste and human waste only. They should never be used for anything else.
Here are nine things NOT to flush down the toilet, and why!
1. Wipes (Both the Adult and Baby Varieties)
Baby and adult wipes may seem like they belong in the flushable category, but they are far too sturdy to go down the toilet smoothly. Too many wipes, and you’ll be looking at a clog because these products don’t break down easily. Even if the packaging says they are flushable, avoid putting them in the toilet.
In addition to possibly clogging your toilet and harming your pipes, baby and adult wipes can do considerable damage to your city’s sewer system, as they often do not dissolve as advertised. In fact, millions of dollars in equipment damage has been reported throughout the United States due to these wipes.
Most people who flush medications down the toilet are trying to do the safe thing and keep drugs out of the wrong hands. Unfortunately, marine animals and the environment pay the price. Recent studies have found medication in rivers, streams, and lakes. Birth control pills have been found to be connected to feminizing fish, and antibiotics are responsible for killing algae and other aquatic lifeforms. And flushed medications aren’t just harmful to animals; they can also end up in your drinking water.
The FDA provides guidelines for safe medication disposal, including community take-back programs. Some in our area are located in:
- Highland Village
- Flower Mound
For Flower Mound residents can bring their unused medications to a drop box at the police department (4150 Kirkpatrick Lane).
Residents of other North Texas towns can check out what pharmacies and drop boxes are available here.
3. Cotton Balls and Swabs
You might think a little ball of cotton is harmless, but these products can create a big problem for your piping. Cotton balls and swabs can expand or stick together, causing clogs, and, like wipes, they don’t break down as easily as you might imagine. The same goes for makeup pads and similar products.
4. Cigarette Butts
Under no circumstances is it okay to flush cigarettes down the toilet. They are full of nasty chemicals that contaminate water sources and harm fish, other animals, and the environment. They can also clog up your pipes, similar to cotton balls. You might also consider how much water is wasted flushing just one butt!
Holding a memorial for your pet goldfish at the toilet and returning it to the water after its death may be a traditional—and poetic—sendoff, but your toilet and other fish won’t appreciate it. A fish, or any other small animal, is a recipe for a clog.
In addition to harming your pipes, it could harm the other fish it meets down the line. Your beloved pet may have died from a disease or a parasite, which could be passed to the other animals who call the water home.
6. Cat Litter
If it contains feces, you may think it’s okay to flush, but that’s far from true. Cat litter is made of components that are terrible for your drain. The clay and sand in litter are designed to solidify when they come in contact with urine or water. The same thing will happen when they meet the water inside your pipes, causing clogs and other plumbing issues.
Cat feces itself also pose a problem to ocean life and drinking water. Many families know that pregnant women shouldn’t clean litter boxes. This is due to the parasite toxoplasma gondii, which can be found in cat feces. Since sewage systems can’t remove it, dumping cat litter into your toilet runs the risk of exposing the water supply to the parasite.
7. Grease and Fats
Fats and grease may go down as liquids, but they can solidify at cooler temperatures into solid clumps. These are a hazard to your plumbing and the city’s sewer system, so fats and grease are two more items that should never be poured into the toilet. This includes cooking fat and grease but also automotive grease.
8. Dental Floss
Since it’s just a thin string, many don’t believe there is harm in flushing used floss down the toilet. But dental floss, like baby wipes and cotton balls, does not break down. Flushing it could cause it to wrap around your pipes or even clump together and cause a clog.
9. Paper Towels
Paper towels are similar enough to toilet paper that many people think they’re flushable. They’re not. Toilet paper is designed to break down when flushed, creating no plumbing troubles. Paper towels do not break down and may stick in your pipes, causing clogs and future headaches. Instead, throw them in the garbage or recycle them.
Although it may seem easier to simply toss a few of these items down the drain, it could cause you future problems, headaches, and bills. To keep your toilet (and pipes) in good working condition, avoid tossing any of the above items into the toilet at all. Set a garbage can in the bathroom to avoid the temptation.
If you did throw one of these nine items into the toilet and you’re experiencing backup or slow draining, it may be time to call a plumber. At C&W Plumbing, we’re also available 24/7 for emergency visits! Call 972-395-2597.