16 Things You Should Never Flush Down The Toilet
Do you know what you should and shouldn’t flush down the toilet? This handy post will reveal items that are guaranteed to shock you.
These days we tend to forget our toilets aren’t flushable bins and should only be used to dispose of certain items. The only items you should really be flushing are the three P’s: pee, poo, and paper. And when we say paper, we only mean toilet paper.
Keep reading to find out what you definitely shouldn’t be flushing…
Many wet wipes and baby wipes aren’t suitable to be flushed despite claims that they are. The only wipes suitable to be flushed are those with the ‘Fine to flush’ mark. This shows that they have been proven to biodegrade over time. Any wipes without the ‘Fine to flush’ mark are likely to cause blockages in your pipework. Some wet wipes such as antibacterial wipes can also introduce chemicals into the water system when flushed, so flushing these should be avoided at all costs.
Now this one might shock you... Bleach is probably one of the most used items to clean toilets in the UK, but should we stop using it? If you think about it logically, bleach contains a lot of potentially harmful toxins and when flushed, these toxins make it into our water system.
In a study carried out by Statista in 2021, it was found that over 8,000 (8,112) people in the UK use bleach once a week, and shockingly nearly 4,000 (3,968) people admitted to using bleach once a day or more.
If you’re wondering what to use instead of bleach, there are plenty of natural cleaning methods you can use to refresh your toilet. For example, a mix of bicarbonate of soda, and white vinegar is a brilliant way to clean your toilet without any nasty chemicals.
For more information on natural ways to clean your bathroom take a look at our post on - Natural Ways to Clean Your Bathroom Without Chemicals.
I think we’d all be surprised at how many people flush their dead fish down the toilet, but this is definitely something we shouldn’t be doing. Believe it or not, goldfish can actually clog our drains so it’s better to dispose of your pets by burying them or simply putting them in the bin.
Sanitary towels, tampons and nappies
As sanitary towels, tampons, and nappies are all designed to absorb liquid, when flushed, they’re likely to take in a lot of water and can expand to cause a blockage. Due to their size, nappies are especially likely to block your toilet or not even flush in the first place. Please always dispose of feminine products and nappies in a rubbish bin.
Cotton wool and cotton buds aren’t designed to be biodegradable and some actually contain plastic, meaning they are less likely to break down over time. UKDN Waterflow states that it can take as long as 500 years for a cotton bud to biodegrade! Do your bit to help save the environment and put your used cotton buds in the bin instead.
Flushing hair down your toilet is perhaps one of the easiest ways to block your pipes and definitely not recommended. Hair will never dissolve meaning it can continue to build up and block pipes year after year. This includes both human and pet hair.
In 2023 Severn Trent Water found a whopping seven meters of hair blocking a pipe in Redditch, Worcestershire. If this doesn’t deter you from flushing hair don’t the toilet we don’t know what will!
Image Credit: Severn Trent
Medication should never be flushed down the toilet as it can pollute the water supply. Instead, dispose of old or unneeded medications safely at a local pharmacy.
While some may think cigarette butts are ok to flush down the toilet this isn’t the case. Cigarettes contain a multitude of harmful chemicals as well as plastics, making them harmful to aquatic life and creating the possibility of chemicals making it back into our water supply.
Cat litter can cause blockages in your toilet and pipes due to its cement like features. When cat litter gets wet it can expand to make a thick cement like texture which can easily block pipes and prevent water from following through.
You should also avoid flushing cat poo or any contaminated cat litter down the toilet as cat poo can contain harmful toxins known as toxoplasmosis, which then be introduced into the water supply. Sewer systems are only meant for human waste.
Tissues and paper towels
You might be thinking if we can flush toilet paper surely tissues and paper towels are the same, right? Wrong. Tissues and paper towels are made from completely different materials to toilet roll and can even contain plastics. Paper or kitchen towels are designed to soak up and hold water meaning they don’t break down when wet. After all who would want a paper towel that disintegrated when drying your hands.
No matter the size of plaster, no matter how small you fold it, plasters can still cause clogged pipes. At the end of the day what’s wrong with disposing of a plaster in the rubbish bin. An old plaster is rubbish after all.
We’ve all seen the effects of dried chewing gum on paths, furniture, clothes etc and we know exactly how difficult it is the remove. Just imagine what this could do if it built up in our pipe systems, especially if you’re regularly flushing it down your toilet.
Similarly to female sanitary items, condoms can clog toilets and pipes and therefore shouldn’t be flushed. Due to their material it’s also likely they’ll float rather than flush, and no one wants to see a condom floating in the toilet.
Due to its stringy nature dental floss can easily get tangled or stuck in your toilet or pipework, getting stuck in pipe connections or adding to a build up of other items that shouldn’t be flushed. So next time you’ve got some food stuck in your teeth please dispose of your dental floss in the bin, not your toilet.
Now I’m not sure why you’d be flushing food down the toilet anyway, unless you like eating your cornflakes in the shower, but flushing food down the toilet is a big no no. Food is unlikely to break down once flushed, potentially leading to a clogged toilet and pipes, as well as an unpleasant smell depending on the food flushed.
Not only can makeup cause blockages but it can also contain harmful chemicals that can in some cases end up back in our water system and even our tap water later down the line.
So there we have it, 16 items you should never flush down the toilet. If you take one thing away from this post today, please think before you flush.
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