Many people view their toilet as a magical black hole. You put stuff in, you flush, and it disappears. Unfortunately, this mindset can lead to massive problems, not only in terms of environmental damage but also localized damage to your plumbing and septic tank.
If you use your toilet as a trash can, chances are that your habits will catch up with you sooner or later. To avoid the potential embarrassment that comes with hiring a plumber to fish your trash from your plumbing, avoid flushing these items down the toilet and put them in a bin instead.
Feminine Hygiene Products
Feminine hygiene products, including tampons and pads, aren’t designed to break down when you flush them. It’s best to have a closed-lid trash can for these items. Sure, it may seem a bit inconvenient, but it’s less trouble than a clogged toilet.
Wet wipes are becoming an increasingly popular option to keep yourself squeaky clean after a visit to the toilet. However, while some brands may claim that their wipes are flushable, the truth is that most of them aren’t and can quickly clog a drain. In fact, regulations will soon be coming into effect that all wet wipes should be labeled as un-flushable on the packaging. So, throw them in the bathroom trash instead.
Most floss is made of nylon or Teflon, both of which are substances that don’t break down easily. Not only is dental floss dangerous to animals when it reaches the environment, but it can also contaminate drinking water with a potentially toxic set of compounds known as polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Due to its stringy nature, dental floss is also really good at gathering up debris, which results in massive clumps that will clog your drain and damage your septic tank.
You should never, ever pour grease down any type of drain, including your toilet. While it may appear liquid while it’s hot, grease usually becomes a solid at room temperature. When it solidifies, it can combine with other stuff that’s in your drain and clump up, causing massive problems. Instead, collect your grease and use it in your other cooking or wait until it congeals and throw it in the trash.
Cotton doesn’t break down in water, and the plastic part of Q-Tips can easily cause blockages in a drain. This is especially true if you flush multiple Q-tips or cotton balls down at the same time. Cotton is an absorbent material and can expand in your drain, causing stoppages in your pipes, which are expensive and difficult to remove.
Many of us have trouble figuring out what to do with expired medication. You don’t want to throw it in the trash since you run the risk of other people getting a hold of it, so instead, you flush it down the drain. Unfortunately, flushing pills down the toilet results in toxic contamination of both groundwater and the environment in general.
The DEA has recently introduced a national ‘Take Back’ day where you can go to one of the many collection sites and hand in your expired medicine. You can then be sure that it’s correctly disposed of. Alternatively, you can take your expired medication back to any pharmacy. They’ll be able to either dispose of it for you or advise you on the correct way of disposing of it.
Paper towels are designed to retain their structure even when wet, so unlike toilet paper, they won’t break down easily when flushed down the toilet. The best way to save money and the environment is to use cloth rags instead of paper towels. If you do prefer to use paper towels, throw them in the trash instead.
You have to be very determined to try and stuff a diaper down a toilet. Just because it contains human waste doesn’t mean it belongs in the loo. They make special air-tight trash receptacles if the smell is an issue for you.
Cigarette butts are actually really hard to flush down a toilet and end up still floating in the bowl after multiple flushes. Not only are they incredibly unattractive and smelly, but they can also contaminate your entire system with toxic chemicals that will then leech off into the groundwater supply. Throw your butts in a bin and dispose of them correctly once extinguished.
Keep Your Plumbing in Good Working Order
Despite appearances to the contrary, your toilet isn’t a waste disposal unit, and in general, bathroom plumbing is susceptible to clogging if you use it for anything else than human waste. Even thick toilet paper can clog up a toilet if used excessively.
By being responsible and disposing of your junk correctly, you do a good deed, both for the environment and for your plumbing system.