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7 Common Items That Should Never Be Flushed – Prevent Clogged Toilet

By Heather Levin

toilet plunger cloggedThere’s a pretty popular TV commercial that’s been on lately for a well-known toilet maker. In the commercial, a guy sees a very pretty female plumber going into his neighbor’s house to fix a problem. Obsessed with the fact that he want this girl over to fix his pipes, he starts flushing everything he can down his toilet to clog it up.

Diapers, toys, and even entire plants are flushed down the toilet. Miraculously, the thing never clogs. If you’re interested, the video is embedded at the end of this article.

Although the commercial is funny to watch, in real life, flushing all that junk down the toilet can cause some serious and expensive problems for your plumbing lines. Not to mention all the water it wastes, and the problems it could cause down at your local water treatment plant. These treatment plants were designed to dispose and treat specific items. Adding new things to the mix can cause blockages, which take time (and taxpayer money) to fix.

So, do want to know some commonly flushed items that really need to go in the garbage instead? Let’s take a look.

7 Things You Should Never Flush

1. Diapers
Yes, people really do try to flush diapers down the toilet, and it’s more common than you might think. Diapers will clog a toilet, or an outgoing line, in a heartbeat. They should always go in the trash.

2. Tampons and Sanitary Napkins
Some experts claim that flushing tampons and sanitary napkins causes the majority of household clogs. The reason is because cotton snags easily, and if your home’s plumbing pipes have any cracks or root infiltration, the cotton can quickly get caught in the line. After a few flushes, buildup can occur and you’ll have a clog on your hands. This gets expensive, especially if the clog occurs in the line from your house to the main city line.

Another reason why you should never flush tampons or sanitary napkins is because cotton doesn’t easily break down in water. This could cause some serious problems over time, especially if you’re using a septic system.

Plus, the waste water treatment facility has to remove these items as “solid waste” and tote them to the landfill. These items should go in the trash.

3. Cigarette Butts
This is another item that’s commonly flushed, but won’t ever break down. Trash please!

4. Floss
This is another non-biodegradable item that can quickly lead to clogs if you’re not careful. Like cotton, floss will easily snag on rough pipes.

5. Large Wipes
Baby wipes, paper towels, face wipes, Swiffer pads…all these things might say “flushable” on the box, but if you have even a tiny clog forming, adding large wipes to the waste flow will quickly make a tiny problem big.

6. Toilet Bowl Scrub Pads
Not only are these scrub pads not biodegradable, they’re full of harsh cleaning agents that are difficult for the treatment facility to cleanse from the water.

Best bet? Don’t waste money on these gimmicky cleaners in the first place. Instead, use natural cleaning ingredients like baking soda and vinegar to clean your toilet. That’s what I do and it works great.

7. Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets are full of toxic chemicals that cause big problems at treatment facilities, and your local water shed. They also can quickly lead to clogs. Your best bet for a healthy home is to not use them. But if you do, don’t flush them after you’re done folding laundry. They’re better off in the trash.

Final Word

It’s easy to toss stuff in the toilet, flush, and forget. But this not only negatively impacts the environment, but it’s also painfully expensive to fix. Trust me, I’ve been there. There was a major clog in my own home just a few months after we bought it.

The culprit? The line leading from our early 1900s-era house to the street was made of old clay, and as you can imagine, tree roots had really broken it up over the years. The people living in the home before us didn’t think twice about flushing paper towels, and even diapers, down the toilet. The bill was extremely painful.

So, it happens. The best thing you can do to avoid an expensive plumbing bill is prevent clogs in the first place. Have you experienced any serious issues with clogs in your toilet? What items do you typically flush?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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  • http://www.undergroundsys.net Joseph

    Thanks for the list. I had no idea about the cigarette butts…no wonder my grandparents toilets are always clogged up.

    • Linda

      Pill bottles can really cause a problem Otherwise intelligent hubby did not close the over the toilet cabinet door before he flushed. He goes to work and leaves the mess to me. Will probably need to replace the toilet.

  • Heather Levin

    Joseph, there were a few things I didn’t know about until I researched this article. Thanks for reading, and for writing in! :)

  • rav

    You forgot to mention cherry bombs and M80’s

  • http://www.bes.co.uk/ plumbing

    Great! Ninety percent of the time, a quick plunge will take care of the problem, but if you are reading this then chances are, the plunger isn’t working.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rosemary-Peppercorn/100002257233359 Rosemary Peppercorn

    Not just “large” wipes — ANY wipe should not be flushed, and that includes “feminine” wipes. Also — cooking GREASE or grease of any kind should not be flushed. Believe me, you will suffer a great deal financially when it stops up the sewer. Not if, but when. It might take years, but it will happen.

  • NameCantBeBlank

    You are incorrect with regard to tampons and wipes. Put a wipe in water for 24 hours and watch it break up. They have testing labs for a reason. You can also do the same with a tampon. Pads are too voluminous and the many pads form a thick gel.

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