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To Flush Or Not To Flush?

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Critical Need-To-Know’s About Your Family’s Flushing Habits

Each year, about 1 in 5 homeowners face a clogged toilet that requires a professional plumber to fix. So what exactly should you flush down your toilet? And more importantly… what should you never flush? Read on to learn what is really flushable and what isn’t. Plus, why it’s important to know the difference!

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To Flush or Not to Flush?

When it comes to toilets, there are really only two things that should be flushed – human waste and toilet paper. That’s it. The list of things that are truly “flushable” is short enough to count on two fingers. So what about all those other things we have been sending down the drain? Well, the list of things you should never flush is so long that you will need both hands and both feet to count them all. To help you save thousands of dollars in expensive repairs, and avoid polluting the environment, take a look at this list of things that you should never flush down the toilet.

Most people are surprised to learn that hair will never dissolve in water. It floats and easily gets caught in the pipes on its way out of the toilet, snagging whatever comes its way. Don’t clean a brush and toss the hair in the toilet. All of those little pieces of hair can form a large hair-ball that prevents your plumbing from functioning properly.

No matter what’s on the label, “flushable” wipes do not disintegrate in water as toilet tissue does. You can test this for yourself by putting a flushable wipe and a piece of toilet paper in water for an hour. You’ll see that the toilet paper quickly breaks apart, but the wipe stays intact. That means it can lodge in sewer pipes and lead to a toilet clog.

These pills are designed to destroy bacteria. But they are not meant to come in contact with our water supply. When you flush them, they can contaminate groundwater and have terrible effects on wildlife downstream. To properly dispose of medications like antibiotics and other prescriptions, click here to learn more.(https://www.fda.gov/drugs/safe-disposal-medicines/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know)

Most adhesive bandages are made from plastic, which is not biodegradable. That means that it will never break down. So as a bandage sits in your pipes it can combine with other debris- all of which can eventually get large enough to cause blockage in your plumbing.

The cotton on these products won’t break down. Although it may take months or years for a ball of them to accumulate, in the end, they do block drains, which then have to be unblocked by a professional plumber.

We know that disposable diapers get covered in waste, which makes it tempting to flush them. But diapers themselves are not meant for toilets. Trying to flush diapers is an incredibly common cause of serious pipe clogs that need professional attention. Avoid the problem by properly disposing of all diapers in the trash.

These products may seem like toilet paper, but they are not. The materials used to make tissues, paper towels and similar products do not dissolve easily. Which means they are far more likely to clog your toilet and require repair.

This small piece of trash often gets flushed. But the cigarette filters take a long time to breakdown. And even more alarming is the amount of chemicals found in cigarettes-  which can end up polluting the water in your community.

Although some of these are labeled ‘flushable’- they are all actually designed to be put into the garbage can. It is much better to wrap all hygiene products in toilet paper and place them in the trash bin.

Dental floss is usually made of nylon. When flushed down, it mixes with all those other items that should not be flushed- such as wet wipes, paper towels, hair, etc. All put together, these items create huge lumps that will clog your pipes and sewer.

They seem small and harmless. But consider that almost 125 million people use contact lenses on a daily basis worldwide. That amount of plastic entering the water system contributes to the creation of trillions of microplastics, which is a major environmental concern.

Most people know it’s a bad idea to pour grease down your kitchen sink. But It’s equally important not to flush it down your toilet. Warm grease runs down your drain until it cools in the pipe. As it cools, it starts to form a clog. The grease attracts other debris and ends up forming a major blockage in your plumbing.

Although it may seem harmless, do not flush food down your toilet. Pasta, bread, rice, and other starches actually expand in water. Which leads to…. you guessed it! Large clogs.

Treat these like medications. Things like old lotions and other beauty care products can be toxic and disruptive to wastewater treatment plants and your septic system. Dispose of them properly, for more information click here. (https://www.self.com/story/how-to-recycle-beauty-products).

Bleach is a harsh chemical that definitely does not belong in sewage lines or septic systems. Most people mistakenly believe that the toilet bowl needs to be cleaned with bleach or an industrial cleaner. But because it has a glazed finish, you can simply use a toilet brush and distilled white vinegar to clean it. Toilet bowl stains are caused by the minerals in the water and not from human waste. So skip the bleach.

Because chewing gum is basically an adhesive, it is not a good idea to flush it down the toilet. This sticky substance is sure to clog your pipes.

Cat litter is designed to clump when it comes into contact with moisture. Which means it will quickly clump up as it enters your pipes. Never flush pet waste that has had contact with kitty litter.

Products like these make cleaning easy, but they are not meant to be flushed. They are not biodegradable and they are full of harsh cleaning agents that are difficult for your city’s water treatment facility to cleanse from the water.


The bottom line is: just because something can physically be flushed down the toilet, does not mean that it should. Even so-called biodegradable items can take several weeks or more to dissolve. During that time, they can create big clogs of backed up waste.

Avoid flushing the above times down your toilets and you will lower your chances of needing plumbing repairs. Proper ‘flushing etiquette’ can extend the life of your toilets and pipes. And if you, or your kids, make the mistake (like we all have!) of flushing anything besides human waste and toilet paper, don’t panic! Keep an eye on your plumbing for any signs of blockage- such as slow drains, sluggish flushing, or gurgling pipes. If you notice these problems or need any help with your home’s pipes, drains, tubs or toilets- call a professional Milestone plumber.

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