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Mar 27, 2020

What Not to Flush

Anything other than toilet paper, water, and human waste can cause expensive and gross sewage backups. Is it worth it?          

When it comes to your toilet, what’s flushable? And what’s not?

Do you know? They may sound like simple questions, but there are still some misconceptions out there, and we want to clear them up. For example, would you flush cotton swabs? Dental floss? What about “flushable” wipes? Your answer should be a resounding, “NO!”

Here’s why that stuff isn’t flushable.

Cotton swabs, those little things to clean your outer ear, were made to stay intact. Which means they don’t disintegrate and can lead to blockages.

Dental floss is made of nylon or Teflon, and although it looks like a little piece of string, it’s mighty strong and wraps around all kinds of other stuff, creating monster clogs.

And so-called “flushable” wipes? They just don’t break down the way toilet paper does and can be huge headaches for homeowners and pump stations. (Although there may be some plumbers who appreciate the business they bring them…)

Only water, your personal business and toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet.

Anything else leads to clogged pipes and expensive plumbing repairs. If backed-up sewage hits the streets, there’s a good chance it will wash down storm drains and into our waterways, harming aquatic life, closing beaches and making some seafood unsafe to eat.

Good to Know

  • Our sewer systems were designed to only transport toilet paper, water and human waste.
  • Which means only toilet paper, water and human waste can be safely flushed down the toilet.
  • Items marketed as “flushable” are regularly found in clogged pipes and broken pumps throughout the sanitary sewer system. Don’t flush them.
  • Flushing your trash leads to service interruptions and expensive repairs to home and municipal plumbing lines.
  • If a clog occurs in your home’s plumbing, the responsibility and cost of repairs falls to you. If a clog occurs in the municipal sewer line, the cost of repairs could be passed on to users (you and your neighbors) in the form of higher utility fees.
  • When a clog or breakdown occurs, untreated sewage can back up into your home, your neighborhood or our waterways. Yuck.
  • If untreated sewage backs up into streets, it has a chance to enter our storm drains and waterways.
  • Untreated sewage is a dangerous pollutant because it causes sudden increases in nitrogen and bacteria. High levels of nitrogen and bacteria result in declines to local aquatic life (like plants, fish and crabs), beach closures and health warnings on local seafood consumption.

Good to Do (Or NOT do, in this case…)

Never flush these items down the toilet:

  • Facial Tissues
  • Paper Towels
  • Baby wipes/personal hygiene wipes — even if they are labeled “flushable”
  • All-purpose cleaning wipes — even if they are labeled “flushable”
  • Diapers
  • Cigarette Butts
  • Dental Floss
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Toilet Bowl Scrubbing Pads
  • Cotton swabs
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Cat litter
  • Fats, oils and grease from the kitchen
  • Food scraps from the kitchen

What Not to Flush Media Toolkit