What Can You Flush Down the Toilet?

Ah. The toilet. The most popular seat in your home. No matter how comfortable the couch in front of the TV is, your family likely appreciates the toilet more. Not only do we all need it for business several times a day, but sometimes it even doubles as a convenient trash can for simple items, such as q-tips, tissue paper, cotton balls, cigarettes, prophylactics, and maybe even floss.

But how safe is this for the commode? Is this wise – or are you setting your pipes up for a clog that will put a damper on everyone’s day?

What Can Be Flushed Down the Toilet?

Out of sight, out of mind, right? Not necessarily. Some items may seem like they’re ok to flush simply because they went down the pipes and your toilet still works. But what you can see with the naked eye is only the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of items that are guaranteed to cost you money in the long run.

This list is obviously not exhaustive. However, we tried to come up with items that are commonly flushed down the toilet. If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not to flush an item, try the mason jar test. If it doesn’t dissolve after a couple of hours in water in a mason jar (or any type of container), it won’t dissolve in your septic system.

12 Things You Can’t Flush Down the Toilet

Because we care about your plumbing system (and peace in everyone’s household), we’ve compiled a list of common items that people tend to flush down the toilet. Read below to find out if you may keep doing so.

1. Tissues

Can you flush tissues down the toilet? No.

Tissues are primarily designed for people to blow their nose into. And these aren’t always flimsy blows. You know that we can blow into those little rags with a lot of force. They are meant to be sturdy and to remain intact even when they’re wet. This includes being wet with water from your toilet.

2. Cigarettes

Can you flush cigarettes down the toilet? No.

If you pay attention, you’ll see that when you toss a cigarette into water, it swells in size. In addition, the filter is non-biodegradable. This means it will never decay. It’s never a good idea to flush something that will never disintegrate down your toilet.

3. Condoms

Can you flush condoms down the toilet? No.

Condoms do not disintegrate in water. So there are three possible scenarios for a flushed condom: Either they clog your pipes, the city’s pipes, or end up in our waterways.

4. Food

Can you flush food down the toilet? No.

Food will clog your toilet. There’s a reason that a kitchen sink has a garbage disposal. We turn it on to mince discarded food instead of just pushing it down the drain, hoping that it will magically melt away.

5. Napkins & Paper Towels

Can you flush napkins down the toilet? No.

Napkins and paper towels are even sturdier than tissues. People use paper towels to clean and wipe off hard surfaces. Some brands even show you in their commercials how durable they are, even when placed under running water. They are guaranteed to clog your pipes. The same goes for napkins.

6. Tampons

Can you flush tampons down the toilet? No.

This one may come as a surprise, but guess what? Despite what the box says, tampons are not meant to be flushed. Think about it. The entire purpose of a tampon is to absorb liquid. Lots of it. If you’ve been flushing them your entire life and you’ve never had a problem, it’s because they usually go down the toilet without issue, but just as with wet wipes, they can create a lot of damage to a city’s septic system.

7. Hair

Can you flush hair down the toilet? No.

Hair gets tangled up into hairballs. This, in turn, gets wrapped around other debris. Its size will continue to increase until your pipes are clogged.

8. Baby wipes

Can you flush baby wipes down the toilet? No.

Never, ever flush these. There have been plenty of lawsuits due to the damage “flushable” wet wipes have caused to city sewage systems. Maybe the packaging says that they’re flushable because they will flush, but they can also cause damage to your plumbing.

9. Pet poop

Can you flush pet poop down the toilet? It depends.

This one seems simple, right? It’s poop. Come on. If your pet is a small dog, and you picked up those mini poops with toilet paper, you’re good to go.

However, if you have a cat, be aware that cat waste that sits in kitty litter for a while causes it to dehydrate and become rock solid. Don’t flush that. And if you have a farm animal, let nature take care of it.

10. Chewing gum

Can you flush gum down the toilet? No.

In the same way that gum sticks to almost any surface, it will pretty much stick to whatever’s in its path on its way down the septic system. The more stuff that sticks to it, the bigger the clog; and since it never disintegrates, it keeps growing and growing, until you have one big, ugly ball of gunk inside your pipes. You may get lucky once or twice, but why risk it?

11. Cotton balls

Can you flush cotton balls down the toilet? No.

We get it. Cotton seems so harmless since it’s soft and made with natural materials. However, they do not break down with liquid. Think about it: It’s used to remove nail polish. This is due to how sturdy cotton is. If you flush cotton balls, they may go down, but eventually, they’ll end up clogging the septic system.

12. Cotton swabs

Can you flush cotton swabs down the toilet? No.

The problem with flushing cotton swabs is the same as with sanitary napkins, tampons, and cotton balls: No matter how long they remain underwater, cotton won’t disintegrate. The clog becomes even worse at junctions where the pipes bend, or if the swabs become lodged sideways.

Contact Sansone for Plumbing Services in South Florida

So in a nutshell, if it’s not human (or pet) waste or toilet paper, don’t flush it.

If your pipes are clogged, let Sansone help you. We provide services in Broward, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie.

Broward: (954) 800-2858
Palm Beach: (561) 701-8274
St. Lucie: (772) 879-5656

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