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When you flush the toilet, waste goes to a sewer or septic tank. Large objects are filtered out before water is treated. Items that are not meant to be flushed can clog pipes and lead to expensive plumbing repair bills. In addition, some forms of waste contain toxic chemicals that may not be removed during the water treatment process. They can then pollute the environment and make their way into the groundwater that people and animals drink.

Don’t Flush These Items

  • Baby wipes, makeup remover wipes, etc. can clog plumbing systems, even if the package says they are safe to flush. Throw them in the trash. The same goes for tissues and paper towels.
  • Cotton balls and Q-tips don’t break down if they are flushed. Instead, they can clump together and clog pipes. Discard them in a trash can.
  • Dental floss is not biodegradable. If it gets flushed down a toilet, it essentially forms a net that catches other items that are flushed, clogs pipes and harms the environment. Hair also does not break down in water. Like dental floss, hair can form a net and catch other objects. 
  • Band-Aids are not biodegradable. Dispose of them in the trash.
  • Plastic has had a devastating environmental impact in many parts of the world. Flushing contact lenses can introduce microplastics into the water supply. Throw used contact lenses in the trash.
  • Don’t flush cat litter or cat waste. Even if the package says the litter is flushable, it can cause a clog. Cat waste may contain parasites that a water treatment plant may not be able to remove.
  • You should not flush grease leftover from cooking. It may be in a liquid form when you flush it, but it can congeal later and block the pipes. Let the grease cool, put it in a jar and dispose of it in the trash. 
  • Gum does not break down in water. It can stick to the insides of pipes like glue and create a clog. 
  • Pills contain a wide array of chemicals that can pollute groundwater and harm wildlife. Instead of flushing them, look for a community program that will take back unused medication and dispose of it safely.
  • Cigarette butts can clog pipes. They also contain toxic chemicals that can pollute groundwater. Dispose of extinguished cigarette butts in a trash can.

Protect your plumbing by understanding the many misconceptions about what is and is not safe to flush abound. 

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