Many plumbing issues arise as a result of people flushing the wrong items down the toilet. From dental floss to baby wipes, homeowners often get careless about the garbage that they dispose in their toilets. There is a false assumption that the toilet can be treated like a convenient trash bin. Just dump, flush, and like magic – your trash is gone!
In reality, most toilets are designed to only handle natural waste and toilet paper. When you flush any other item down the toilet, there is a chance that it can seriously obstruct your plumbing system. In severe cases, you may end up with a completely clogged toilet, which can only be fixed by a professional plumber.
To avoid a plumbing catastrophe, it helps to know exactly what can and cannot be flushed in your toilet. Here is a list of nine common household items that you should never flush down the toilet:
Can you flush paper towels down the toilet?
No, you should never flush paper towels down the toilet. The same goes for flushing paper napkins or tissues. All these items may look just like toilet paper, but please remember that they are not the same thing. Such products are more likely to cause clogs as they are incapable of dissolving in the same way as toilet paper does. Throw your paper towels, napkins, and tissues in the trash instead.
Can you flush dental floss down the toilet?
No, you shouldn’t flush dental floss down the toilet. Although dental floss may seem small and nonintrusive, it does not break down easily and can cause environmental damage in the long term. Dental floss tends to wrap around hair, toilet paper, and fecal matter, creating a sizable lump within the pipes. Over time, it will get bigger and create blockages, which can only be cleared by emergency plumbers.
Can you flush hair down the toilet?
No, hair should not be flushed down the toilet. Just because hair comes from your body doesn’t mean it is safe to flush down the toilet. If hair can clog up your bathtub drain, it will also happen to your toilet. Just like dental floss, hair forms into a net when flushed down the toilet and attaches itself onto everything. Hair also floats and doesn’t dissolve in water, regardless of how long it stays in there.
Can you flush food down the toilet?
No, food shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet. This answer may surprise you as human waste is essentially broken-down food. However, flushing undigested food will cause problems in your plumbing system. Although food is biodegradable and will eventually break down, it may cause a clogged toilet until that happens. Undigested foods should never be found inside plumbing pipes. Even mushy cereal and mashed potatoes are off-limits!
Can you flush oil down the toilet?
No, flushing oil and grease down the toilet is not recommended. When cooking grease cools, it congeals. Over time, it will accumulate inside your plumbing system, resulting in serious clogs. When cooking oil congeals in sewer lines, it may also cause waste to back up into your home. If you accidentally flush cooking grease down the toilet, you can try to clear it by pouring a bucket of hot water afterwards.
Can you flush tampons down the toilet?
No, feminine hygiene products like tampons and pads are not meant to be flushed down the toilet. While it may be tempting to flush your tampons for sanitary reasons, this will eventually lead to clogs deep in your plumbing system. Tampons are not designed to break down in the water. Instead, they actually absorb water. This means the tampons will expand when flushed down the toilet, which is very bad for your plumbing.
Can you flush medicine down the toilet?
No, don’t flush your medication down the toilet. While flushing medicine isn’t a major concern in terms of causing clogs, it will contaminate the water supply. Sewer systems are not designed to remove medicine from the water. Since your toilet water ends up going into oceans, rivers, and lakes, any medicine that gets flushed will slowly cause toxic environmental effects. If you need to dispose medication, do it through your local pharmacy.
Can you flush cat litter down the toilet?
No, never flush kitty litter down the toilet. Most toilets don’t have enough water pressure to properly move the litter along in your pipes. All this does is add more waste to the water, making it harder to purify. You should also avoid flushing down cat waste from the litter box. Cat litter is harmful to plumbing pipes and toilets. Toilets are designed to only flush water-soluble waste, and litter actually dehydrates the waste.
Can you flush a fish down the toilet?
No, you should never dispose a fish into the toilet after it dies. Fish won’t disintegrate in water, so flushing it down the toilet will absolutely lead to a clog. Dead fish may also carry diseases or parasites that could contaminate the water supply. When saying goodbye to your pet fish, give it a proper burial in your backyard.