We’ll be up front: your toilet is not magic. It seems like common sense to say that, but you’d be amazed at the things some people flush without regard for the complicated mechanisms and plumbing systems that make it all happen. Like any tool or appliance, improper use of your toilet can and will result in damage that is going to cost you a pretty penny in the long run. The best solution to these problems is to not let them happen to begin with, since many toilet-related calls we receive stem from improper flushing etiquette. Below we’ll break down some of the most commonly flushed items that should just be thrown in the trash.
This one is a big one. Old pills and the like should always be disposed of properly and never through the toilet. Most pills are resistant to water, meaning they do not break down safely. This leads to the chemicals within them to be absorbed into the water and cause harmful environmental effects and potential health problems.
We know the box says they’re flushable. They’re not. They go down the drain when you flush them, sure, but in reality, they are prime candidates for getting stuck in the pipes and causing massive, sticking clogs and backups that require a professional hand to properly eliminate.
Like most other items on this list, dental floss can cause clogging. Unlike most items on this list, large amounts of flushed floss can string together and act as a net catching otherwise safe debris and causing even larger issues.
Smokers may find it convenient to dispose of their old cigarettes down the toilet. While not known to cause particularly nasty clogs, cigarettes are filled with toxic materials that absorb into the water. Don’t do it.
Widely believed to be safe, even intended, to be disposed of in the toilet, feminine hygiene products are among some of the most dangerous items to flush. These products are meant to act as absorption agents. Meaning that, once flushed, they absorb water and expand, clogging pipes and causing backups over time.
Dirty or otherwise, all diapers should be disposed of in a diaper receptacle or the trash bin. Like feminine hygiene products, diapers are built to absorb water, causing blockage.
This one surprises a lot of people when they first hear it. Flushing a dearly departed pet fish has become something of a cultural stereotype: it’s just what you assume people do. And while it seems to be the ubiquitous way to send off a fishy friend, it’s not the best for your plumbing. Fish are very slow to decompose in water, and are usually consumed by scavengers in the wild after passing. This is an obvious clog risk, especially if it’s a larger animal. Given this information, consider giving your next pet fish a more traditional send off.
Paper towels are heavy and bulky. Great for cleaning up messes, not so great for flushing down the drain. These are the number one cause of drain clogs, hands down, and it’s because folks assume paper products dissolve like toilet paper. That’s an entirely fair assumption to make, but it is not the case. Save yourself the headache later on and walk that paper towel to the trash bin for a proper disposal.