Chances are that at your house you have running water, flushing toilets, and either a septic tank or city sewer to deal with the waste you produce. We don’t think about these things too much, taking them for granted until there is a problem with one or more of them. Often the problem is caused by something that could have been easily avoided, and one of the biggest culprits in plumbing problems is people using their toilet as a trash can.
Using a toilet to dispose of trash is bad for many reasons: clogged toilets that require plumbers or replacement, damaged wastewater treatment centers (the cost of which gets passed on to utility customers), expensive cleanups, a waste of fresh water (up to 3 gallons per flush), higher water and utility bills, septic tanks and leaching fields that don’t work correctly, toxic environmental issues, and raw sewage overflows. The list goes on and on… and on. To help you avoid causing most all of them and keep your toilet flushing correctly, here’s a list of things you should not flush down the toilet. Ever.
Band-Aids – Made out of non-biodegradable plastic. Toss them in the trash.
Condoms – Bad news for septic tanks and sewage treatment plants. Condoms gum up the works.
Cotton Balls & Q-Tips – Contrary to popular opinion, these don’t magically break down once flushed. They gather together, eventually clogging pipes.
Food – Compost or trash it. Food can clump together and cause clogs.
Facial Cleaning Pads – Thicker than toilet paper and thus can cause problems.
Dental Floss – NOT biodegradable. Will wrap around small clogs to make them even bigger.
Hair – Clogs pipes in no time. You know how you constantly have to unclog your drain because of the hair in it? Imagine that, but on a much larger scale.
Dirt – Dump it outside, not in the toilet.
Dryer Sheets – Made out of synthetic materials, not biodegradable.
Prescription Medicines – Destroys bacteria and contaminates groundwater. Bring meds back to pharmacies for disposal.
Grease & Fat – Congeals once it cools down, filling pipes with a solid mass that blocks pipes.
Pesticides – Destroys the good bacteria used to break down waste at treatment plants.
Baby Wipes – Too thick, can cause clogs.
Cleaning Wipes – Ditto.
Disposable diapers – Other than the fact that they were giant, disposable diapers are made out of plastic. Throw them in the trash if you have to use them.
Cat Litter – Would you pour sand in your toilet? This is basically the same thing, but filled with potentially toxic cat feces.
Tampons and Pads – Trash can is best here. These items are too thick for toilet plumbing.
Cigarette Butts – Full of toxic chemicals that can pollute waterways.
Chewing Gum – Can literally gum up the works.
Nail Polish & Remover – Toxic.
Dead Pet Goldfish – Not necessarily bad, but can cause problems with clogging or could introduce disease into septic system.
Cosmetics – Potentially toxic and harmful to wastewater treatment plants and septic systems.
Paper Towels – Do not break down like toilet paper. Too thick for plumbing pipes.
Toilet Scrubbers – Do I have to say why?
So what’s left to flush? Just toilet paper (made from 100% recycled paper, of course) and human waste – that’s it. What would you add to the list of things you should not flush down the toilet? Are you guilty of using your toilet as a trash can? It’s time to change that behavior. It’s bad for you, the planet, your utility bills, and our water supplies.
A plumber uses a plunger to unclog a toilet image from BigStock