However many centuries it has been since man first invented flushing lavatories, it seems that messages from plumbers about what should and shouldn’t be flushed down there have never truly sunk in. Even now in 2022 people look for 24 hour emergency plumber services to help them with overflowing toilets, backed up sewage, and seemingly impossible clogs that make it impossible to answer a call of nature in a civilised way.
To once again try and get the message across, we’ve prepared the following guide on what does and does not go down the toilet. More importantly, we’ll do our best to explain why that is, because there are still so many who think these guidelines are merely advisory or arbitrary.
Flush – Your Own Waste
It should go without saying, perhaps, that your urinary and/or faecal waste does indeed go down the toilet safely. The toilet, after all, is a receptacle specifically designed for this purpose. Even when there are times where some waste doesn’t appear to be flushing down at first, it can and will go down eventually, even if you end up using the toilet brush or plunger to help it along.
Flush – Toilet Paper
Next, toilet paper — in appropriate amounts per flush — also does go down the toilet. There are some countries where they encourage you not to flush because their sanctuary system is not as developed and therefore can’t break down toilet paper properly or safely. In Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US, Canada and most other Western countries, however, you can.
As it happens, that brings us to an end of the very short list of things that both can and do get flushed down the toilet. Next, we’ll cover common items that frequently get flushed that absolutely should not. Some of these items have manufacturers who claim that they are flushable, but plumbers continue to disagree.
Do Not Flush – Paper Towels and Baby Wipes
These two items have to go top of the list because they are easily the most common things besides toilet paper that are flushed down the toilet. Many assume that because paper towels and wet wipes look like toilet paper, then it must be alright to flush them.
They do look alike and carry a similar function, of course, but the big difference is that only toilet paper is designed by its manufacturer to break down within the sewage system. The others are made to be more durable, and so cause much more damaging blocks.
Do Not Flush – Feminine Hygiene Products
Tampons, pads, and other similar menstrual products are specifically designed to absorb water and not to break down in it. If you are to flush these things down the toilet, then, they will be submerged in water and thus expand to the point where they can cause a severe blockage. What happens mostly is that one pad might be flushed down seemingly with success, which leads people in future to get bolder and start flushing multiple pads, thinking it will be fine. Thus, the blockages get more serious.
Do Not Flush – Cotton Products
Similar to menstrual products, cotton products like Q-Tips and cotton pads are not safe to flush because of their absorbency. The danger with these too is that they are often flushed in clumps because people see them as small and therefore harmless to the system. If one or two get stuck in there each time, however, they build up and create a serious block.
Do Not Flush – Medication
Flushing unwanted or unused medications down the toilet might seem like a fast and convenient way to get rid of them, but you’re actually risking toxic contamination of the water when you do so. These pills contain all manner of chemical ingredients that if getting into the water supply could cause serious problems for the environment.