We use the toilet daily, but human waste is not the only thing people have been known to flush down the toilet. Most of us have been guilty of flushing toys, food, and other small items at least once in our lives.
You may have been able to flush most of these items without any problems. But flushing anything besides human waste and toilet paper will cause plumbing problems. Read on to learn about 10 common household items that are most likely to cause clogs.
1. Bathroom Wipes
These have become an increasingly popular alternative to normal toilet paper, but even “flushable” wipes can create clogs and back up sewer systems. These types of wipes may go down the toilet, but sanitation officials say they don’t degrade after they flush and cost city sanitary systems thousands, if not millions, of dollars to repair city pipes and septic tanks.
If you use bathroom wipes, baby wipes, or face wipes, dispose of them in your trash.
Just because hair is a natural part of your body doesn’t mean it’s safe to flush. Hair can clog up any drain, including that in your shower, sink, and toilet. When hair goes down the toilet, it clumps together and forms blockages in your plumbing system.
Avoid costly plumbing repairs and throw away any unwanted hair in the trash.
3. Fats, Oils, and Grease
You may have flushed fats, oils, or grease down your toilet, but this practice can cause serious plumbing issues. While these fatty substances generally flush as liquids, they eventually cool and create buildup on the sides of pipes. These buildups eventually form blockages.
When you want to get rid of fats, oils, and grease, put them in a disposable container and throw the container in the trash when it’s full.
4. Disposable Diapers
Even though they contain human waste, diapers are not made to go in the toilet. In fact, disposable diapers are made with toxic plastic that expands when exposed to water. If you do manage to get the diaper down the toilet, you may soon find it stuck in your pipes, leaving a dirty mess on your hands.
After you wrap up your child’s diaper, dispose of it in the trash. If you do flush down a diaper, turn off the water to your toilet and call a plumber for assistance.
5. Prescription Medication
A flush down the toilet seems like a safe and easy way to get rid of prescription drugs, but these drugs cause significant problems after they are flushed. Once drugs go down the toilet, they dissolve in your plumbing system’s water and contaminate groundwater, kill bacteria, and create harmful effects on wildlife downstream.
Ask your doctor or pharmacy for information on how to properly dispose of your medication.
They seem small and perfectly harmless to flush, but condoms can cause serious problems for your septic tank and sewage treatment plants. Their latex material does not mix well with your plumbing system, and they last long after they are flushed.
You can wrap condoms in toilet paper and dispose of them discreetly in the trash.
7. Cotton Balls and Swabs
While they have an innocent appearance, these small puffs of cotton can quickly cause problems for you and your plumbing system. You may expect these cotton products to break down if you flush them, but they don’t. They quickly absorb water and become trapped in pipe bends which result in huge blockages.
Toss your cotton balls and swabs in the trash when you are done using them.
8. Paper Towels
Paper towels were meant to absorb spills, not to be flushed down toilets. The thicker, larger paper towel material does not break down like toilet paper and will clog up your toilet quickly.
Throw away your paper towels in the trash. If you need help with a paper towel problem, call a plumber to unclog your toilet.
9. Dental Floss
After you finish flossing your teeth, don’t put your dental floss in the toilet. This hygienic material is not biodegradable and can easily tangle itself around objects in your pipes. Such entanglement can make your clogs larger and make it even more difficult to unclog your pipes.
Avoid messy clogs and throw your used floss in the trash. If you have a tricky dental floss clog, call a professional plumber to help your toilet run smoothly.
10. Cigarette Butts
While they’re an easy toss down the toilet, cigarette butts are full of toxic chemicals that end up in our water supply. And, like floss, cigarettes aren’t biodegradable. Keep your water clean and your toilet clog free—put your next cigarette butt in a cigarette receptacle.
Prevent Toilet Clogs
You may be tempted to flush these things down the toilet, but don’t do it. The only materials that should be flushed are human waste and toilet paper. Your toilet and plumbing system were not built to handle anything else.
The items mentioned above may flush, but sooner or later, they will cause blockages. Keep your plumbing system clog free and don’t flush any foreign objects down the toilet. However, if one of these items does go down the toilet, call your local plumber immediately to receive professional assistance.