A clogged toilet ranks near the top of the list of plumbing problems reported to local emergency plumbers. Very few times is there an actual toilet or plumbing issue and more frequently the toilet clogs are caused by what was flushed down the toilet —and shouldn’t have been. Although you may have a reliable local plumber, avoid calling them and facing a potentially embarrassing situation by only flushing things that are meant to go in a toilet! Here are some common things that people flush down their toilets that should never be flushed!
Feminine hygiene products
Despite what your mother may have told you, it is never okay to flush feminine hygiene products down the toilet —whether they are used or not. There is a reason that public restrooms provide a trash can to collect such things and signs are posted begging you not to flush them. These products are meant to absorb and hold onto a considerable amount of fluid. In doing so, they expand to stop the flow. Now, if this is the intended purpose in the human plumbing system, how are these products to know the difference between human plumbing and toilet plumbing? Feminine hygiene products can expand to ten (or more!) times their original size and even one tampon can completely block a commercial plumbing system. If you thought it was embarrassing to throw these used products in the trashcan, you’ll be even more embarrassed when your reliable local plumber extracts it from your toilet plumbing. Along these same lines, diapers are never okay to flush —if you think they won’t even fit, you’d be alarmed at the number of diapers that are removed from toilets by local plumbers each year!
Wipes of any kind are not flushable. This includes baby wipes, bleach wipes, cleaning wipes, adult cleaning wipes, feminine wipes, or field shower wipes. None of them are flushable, despite what the package may say. Most of these products have a big warning and a picture with a crossed out toilet reading, in all bolded caps “do not flush!” This is because these products know the risk wipes pose to your plumbing system and are not willing to take the liability or foot the bill your local emergency plumber provides to remove said clog. If you chose to use wipes instead of, or in addition to toilet paper, toss the wipes in the trash can after use, not into the toilet bowl for flushing.
Not so long ago, flushing medications and other toxins was the suggested way of removing these things from your home and making the living situation safer for you and your curious little ones. However, as the years have passed and we have discovered the dangers and the toxic effects that medications and other substances have on the environment once the water re-enters the natural water system, this practice has been denounced. While water treatment facilities remove most of the harmful additives in water, medications contain some elements that are unaffected by the treatment process and can cause devastating effects once they enter groundwater supplies and reach wildlife. While you may be thinking to yourself, “but I am only one person flushing this one prescription,” imagine the other 325.7 million Americans thinking the same thing. Many pharmacies and other community-based agencies offer “take back your meds program” where you can drop off old medications and have them disposed of properly.
On this note, it should be mentioned that any substance that is corrosive, hazardous, radioactive, toxic, poisonous, or flammable should not enter your plumbing system at all!
Stay tuned for part two of this two-part flushable blog series!