Toilets. What a wonderful invention! They’re designed to handle some nasty sessions on the throne. Unfortunately, not everything can or should go down the loo. There are some common objects which can easily block or damage your drains. Yet again and again people decide to flush away their problems.
It’s time to stop! Here are 25 household items you should never flush down the toilet.
1. Paper Towels
Yes, paper towels aren’t that different from toilet paper. But their additional absorbency and durability mean they clean big spills and do not break down as easily. A clump of paper towels in the toilet bowl can easily turn into a blockage.
2. Wet Wipes
Some brands try to claim their wet wipes are flushable. They’re not. Even biodegradable wipes should not go down to the drain. While they will eventually break apart, the short term impact of baby wipes or makeup remover is often a big nasty fatberg in the sewer system.
3. Dental Floss
Floss is like a lasso, wrangling wild, untamed toilet paper and debris in the drain. So even though one tiny thread might not seem like a problem, it can latch onto other bits of waste and rubbish. And as everything ties together, bigger clumps form and blockages worsen.
4. Contact Lenses
Another minuscule bit of rubbish that seems easy to flush, contact lenses should always be recycled properly or placed in the trash. Contacts will not necessarily contribute to toilet clogs, but they are harmful to the environment. Made of plastics like hydrogel or silicone hydrogel, they take up to 500 years to break down. And with billions of contact lenses used every year, the environmental impact on wildlife is especially harmful.
5. Chewing Gum
Chewing gum is sticky and clumpy. Just think of all the tales about swallowing gum and how it sticks to your insides. While that’s an exaggeration, drains are a different matter. Gum will stick to the side of the pipes and anything else that heads down the drain. Repeated gum flushing definitely causes blockages and long term problems.
6. Dead Animals
If Goldy has kicked the bucket, please skip the bathroom funeral. Small animals such as fish should never be flushed down the toilet. Hold a proper ceremony using biodegradable materials and let nature do its thing.
After squashing a spider or cockroach, think twice about sending it down the toilet. Not only is it a waste of water if you flush every time, but if the bug’s wrapped up in a paper towel or something durable, it may not break up fast enough. Instead, go for the rubbish bin or put the insect in the garden for other little critters to munch on. Or at least stick to toilet paper for flushing dead insects.
Let’s cut to the chase. Condoms do not go in a toilet. Therefore, after you’re done being safe, safely put it in the bin.
Firstly, why would you want to flush a nappy? It doesn’t fit in the drain! Nappies are designed to absorb moisture, and if you really want to flush them, expect a clog. Please just avoid the mess and take used diapers to the bin outside.
10. Q-tips, cotton balls
Cotton buds, cotton balls and the like don’t break apart in water. They just clump together and cause a nuisance. The actual Q-tip stick also gets jammed in bends or caught in other material.
High quality tissues are especially resilient and don’t tear apart easily. If you like to use extra thick, luxurious tissues, the best place to put the rubbish is in the bin. They may not break down fast enough to clear your drains and the unnecessary hassle of blockage outweighs the convenience of a flush.
12. Tampons and Pads
Pads and tampons are designed to absorb moisture. If you mixed that ability with toilet water, you’ll have an expanding barricade forming inside your sewer pipes. That will never end well.
Human hair takes about two years to break down. The short term impact on your drains is not worth a potential blockage tied together by strands of hair. Even short hair is a problem so let’s keep those drains bald.
The mixture of chemicals is not a good thing for sewers. Tablets and pills are best kept out of the drains.
15. Cat Litter
Cat litter is never okay to flush! The absorbent properties of litter are terrible for drains. Recycled cardboard pellets, crystals or sandy litter must stay out of the toilet. Harmful bacteria such as Toxoplasma gondii is also bad for humans and should not be mixed into waterways and potentially recycled water.
The only place cigarettes should go to is the bin. Never flush them. Never throw them on the ground. Put the cigarette butts into the rubbish bin.
17. Fat, Oil and Grease
Don’t send your fat, soap or grease down the drain. In colder conditions, they will harden and create a hodge-podge mixture of nasties in the drain. Fat and grease build up in drains will cause water to flow more slowly and give off bad smells.
Now, this is debatable, however, due to the harsh nature of bleach, it can negatively impact drains. Recurring use can cause some drains to corrode and leaks will form. Either dilute the strong stuff or clean the toilet and drains with specific toilet cleaner which is already diluted.
Don’t be lazy and flick the band-aid into the toilet while you’re sitting there. The plastic is not good for the environment and the bin is always the best spot for band-aids and bandages.
Maybe tell the kids this one (again)! The toilet is not a plaything and toys should stay well away. No one wants to see a car, doll or whatever else, get flushed away.
We know most people are smart enough to not pour paint down the loo, but some do love shortcuts. Due to the hazardous nature of paint pigments, binders, additives and solvents, paint should never end up in sewerage or rainwater drains. Look for a local recycling centre which collects paint.
Leftover food never goes into the toilet, period.
23. Small Rubbish
Sometimes you walk around with a little bit of rubbish, like a tiny ball of paper, cling wrap or tape. It feels small enough to drop in the toilet while you’re there. But think again. Hard bits of waste which don’t break down quickly are destined for the rubbish bin. Always recycle if possible, too.
Keep those clippings away from the sewer! Fingernails take around 40 years to decompose, far too long to be left in a drain.
25. Body Parts
Firstly, don’t kill anyone. Secondly, don’t be like the Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen, who was caught by a plumber because of a blocked drain. Nilsen killed at least a dozen men at his London home, flushing some of the remains down the toilet. Now, you see where this is going?
One day Nilsen called a plumber because he had a blocked drain. The plumber who arrived discovered flesh-like substances and small bones… one thing led to another, and Nilsen was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. If you want to stay out of jail, find another way to dispose of the remains.