You may temporarily get away with treating your toilet like a garbage can, but sooner or later you’ll end up with an expensive plumbing bill.
Toilets are designed to do only one thing: dispose of human waste and toilet paper.
Still, many people are tempted to use them to get rid of various things. Clogged toilets are caused by everything from discarded food to cat litter.
In addition to damaging your plumbing, some items can also harm the environment if they find their way into the ecosystem.
The following are things you should never flush down your toilet.
1. Cigarette Butts
You may think that cigarette butts are small enough to pass through your pipes without causing any problems. But Stephany Smith, a plumber at the Fantastic services property maintenance company in London, Money Talks News tells that cigarette butts can clog your pipes. That’s because, unlike toilet paper, they don’t dissolve in water.
So empty your ashtray in the trash.
2. Tampons and Sanitary Napkins
The cotton used in tampons and sanitary towels wasn’t meant to be flushed down toilets, says Glenn Gallas, the vice president of operations at Mr. Root Plumbing.
“The cotton in these articles can easily snag and grab just about anything,” he tells Money Talks News.
In addition to damaging your own plumbing, such products can clog the waste disposal system down the line, he notes. Cotton then has to be removed from the waste stream by workers and sent to landfills.
tampon maker Tampax Notes that while its products are biodegradable in landfills, flushing tampons is not the way to throw them away. It’s better for the environment and your plumbing to throw them in the trash.
3. Cooking oil and fat
It is always a mistake to try to dispose of cooking oil or grease in a toilet. These substances “will wreak havoc in your plumbing system,” Smith says.
Alex Berezow, senior editor at Big Think and a longtime science writer, explains to Money Talks News:
“Cooking oil definitely clogs pipes because it solidifies as it cools.”
Video: 9 things you should never flush down a toilet (Money Talks News)
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4. Stringy Materials
Hair, dental floss, thread and twine can cause a mountain of problems when flushed down the toilet, Smith tells Money Talks News. That’s because they don’t dissolve easily in water.
If flushing her down the toilet becomes a habit, sooner or later you can expect “a huge ball” of dirt to build up in your pipes, Smith adds.
When you remove hair from your bathtub drain, resist the impulse to drop it into the toilet.
5. Cat Litter
Cat litter contains more than your cat’s waste, Gallas says.
“It also has clay and sand, which is extremely tricky,” he says.
Cat litter is designed to absorb moisture and create clumps, which can turn into large clumps once they get into your pipes. The only safe place to dispose of cat litter is the trash.
Cat litter can cause clogs, even if it’s labeled flushable, reports The New York Times.
Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to filter out drugs. So drugs flushed down toilets can eventually end up in rivers, streams and lakes, reports The New York Times.
“While prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and other substances don’t necessarily pollute your pipes, the ingredients in pharmaceuticals can pose a threat to your water supply. Instead, dispose of medications responsibly through your local pharmacy or drug disposal program.
7. Wet Wipes
One of the easiest ways to clog your toilet and sewer lines is by flushing wet wipes. Even if they are promoted as flushable, Smith does not recommend putting them in your toilet.
Wet wipes have clogged aging sewage systems in some U.S. cities, Gallas says. That’s because they don’t disintegrate as quickly as toilet paper.
And in the age of coronavirus precautions, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t be flushing disinfectant wipes either.
Some foods — such as pasta, noodles, rice, grits, and bread — absorb water and expand after you drop them in a toilet, Smith says. Because of this, they are likely to form blockages in pipes.
To be safe, never put food of any kind in your toilet.
9. Contact Lenses
Many contact lenses are disposable. But if you flush them down the toilet, they don’t biodegrade easily, The New York Times reports. Some can eventually pollute waterways.
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