15 Things you should never flush down the toilet

Did you know that flushing some things down the toilet causes water pollution? They can clog drain pipes, contaminate water systems, and are capable of causing a large environmental damage! It could also cost you hundreds of euros in plumbing repairs. Here are the things that you should never flush to ensure a smooth-running septic system:

1. Wipes

Although wipes are commonly mistaken as being flushable, they should never be flushed (even if mentioned “flushable”). These wipes don’t break down easily, get stuck in drains and clog them.

2. Cotton products

Cotton products like ear buds, cotton pads, or cotton balls don’t break down easily and should not be disposed of in the toilet. There is a high chance for them to clump and cause blockages in your system. 

3. Paper towel

They look and feel like toilet paper, but they should never go down the toilet. Paper towels do not have the same characteristics as toilet paper and do not disintegrate easily down the sewer line.

hands taking paper towel which cannot be flushed down the toilet

4. Menstrual products

Whether it be pads, tampons, or other hygiene products, these products are made to absorb water rather than break down in it and will expand when you flush them.  

5. Diapers

Like menstrual products, diapers are also designed to absorb water and not dissolve in it. Therefore, take care not to ever flush them.

6. Dental floss

Most dental floss is made from nylon. Not only is this material not good for the environment as it is made from fossil fuels, but it can also form a net like a system when flushed. This net can catch and hold other products making it completely clog the system. 

a woman using dental floss made of nylon

7. Hair

Like floss, hair can form nets and wreak your entire plumbing system. Hair also sticks to the sides of drainage pipes and causes blockages.

8. Bandages

Bandages have chemicals in them that can leach into the water system. They are also made of plastic which is non-biodegradable. Moreover, the adhesive in bandages can also cause other items to stick together leading to a clump of things clogging your pipes.

9. Hazardous materials

Paint, cleaning materials, or medicines should never be flushed. Unused or expired medicines can cause harmful chemicals to be released into the water. To dispose of them, you should drop them off back at the drug store. Household hazardous products should be disposed of in the trash rather than in the toilet.

10. Condoms

Made of latex, condoms will not break down in the water and will end up clogging your septic system.  

11. Cigarette butts

Most of us know smokers who flush their cigarette butts down the toilet. Cigarette filters contain a cocktail of harmful chemical ingredients including arsenic, lead and nicotine that pollute our waterways. And one cigarette butt can contaminate up to 1000 litres of water.

a cigarette butt on top of a table with 3 other ciragettes close by

12. Fats, grease, and oil

Fats and oils although liquid at room temperature, solidify when flushed and stick to the sides of the drainpipes. This blocks the pipes and causes problems for other items to pass through. One liter of oil pollutes at least one km² of water.

13. Cat litter

Even though some cat litters specifically mention that they are flushable, it is best to avoid flushing because harmful parasites can be introduced into the water. Cat litter must always be disposed of in the waste bin.

14. Gum

Flushing gum down the toilet is a big no-no. It is insoluble and will never disintegrate causing long-term problems for your septic system.

15. Food

This may come as a surprise given that human waste is essentially just broken-down food, but flushing food that hasn't been digested can also cause issues with your plumbing. While it is biodegradable and will eventually degrade, it can cause clogs in the meantime.

do not flush these items down the toilet

You could prevent a plumbing emergency by taking care and never to dispose of these items in your toilet bowl. 
Did you know that 50 percent of the so-called non-dispersible material in wastewater is paper towels from public restrooms, followed by 25 percent of baby wipes, and then a mixture of condoms, cosmetic wipes, tampon applicators, and other items?
There are only three things that you can flush down the toilet - urine, feces, and toilet paper. In other words, human waste, or the three Ps: pee, poo, and paper.
Remember that your toilet is not a substitute for a trash can!