There are certain items you should never flush down the toilet to keep your system running smoothly.
To ensure that your pipes stay clog-free, here are the 16 items you should truly avoid flushing down the toilet.
1. Baby Wipes
This is important. Even if they say they are flushable, never flush baby wipes. These are frequently the cause of clogs and should always be thrown out in a wastebasket instead. Even "flushable" wipes don't disintegrate the way toilet paper does, which can eventually cause plumbing issues.
2. Q-Tips, Cotton Pads or Other Cotton Products
Cotton balls, cotton pads, and Q-Tips are definitely not safe to flush — they don't break down the way toilet paper does, and all they really do is clump together in your pipes and cause problems down the line.
3. Menstrual Products
This one might shock you, but menstrual products (tampons, pads, etc.) should also never be flushed down the toilet. Why? These products are meant to absorb water, not break down in it, meaning they'll only expand when you flush them — and that's definitely not good for your plumbing.
Condoms are also not designed to break down in the water, so flushing them can cause clogs in toilets and septic tanks.
Just like menstrual products, diapers are meant to absorb water. Diapers don’t break down in water and can lead to costly damages to your system. Dispose of all diapers in a diaper pail.
6. Dental Floss
In addition to clogging your pipes, flushing dental floss can actually cause environmental damage. When floss is flushed, floss basically turns into a net, catching and holding onto other debris — it can even wrap around parts of your septic system and burn out the motor.
7. Paper Towels & Tissues
You might think paper towels and tissues aren't all that different from toilet paper, but they're simply not designed to break down the way toilet paper does. In the event that you need to use paper towels or tissues in place of toilet paper, dispose of them in a waste basket.
If you have old pills that you need to get rid of, don't flush the pills — toilet water doesn't break them down properly, meaning the medication gets into the water and can cause toxic environmental effects.
9. Cigarette Butts
In addition to causing clogs, cigarette butts are made of toxic chemicals, and that's exactly what flushing cigarettes down the drain adds to the water.
10. Cat Litter
Some brands of cat litter claim to be flushable, however, most toilets don't use enough water to move the litter along properly in your pipes. Even if the brand claims it’s flushable, don’t flush cat litter down the toilet. All it does is add more things to the water that make it harder to purify. Cat waste from the litter box should also not be flushed, because the litter dehydrates the waste and toilets are meant to flush water-soluble waste.
Similar to dental floss, hair forms a sort of net when you flush it down the drain and gets caught in your pipes. Additionally, hair never dissolves so it creates more risk for clogging your system.
Flushing gum down the toilet is a big mistake, as it’s sticky and insoluble. Being sticky, this leads to increased risk of clogging your pipes. Since it’s insoluble, gum will never disintegrate causing major risk for potential issues to your system down the line.
13. Cooking Grease
Just like you shouldn’t put cooking grease down the drain, you should never flush grease. When grease cools, it congeals which makes it thicker and leads to risk in clogging your pipes.
Although you’ve probably heard of people flushing their pet fish, this actually isn’t a good idea. Fish don’t break down in water, which leads to increased risk of creating a clog. Rather than flushing your deceased fish, consider a proper burial.
This might surprise you because human waste is basically just broken-down food anyway, but flushing food that hasn't been digested can cause problems for your plumbing, too. While it's biodegradable and will break down eventually, it can cause clogs until that happens.
This may be the most surprising item as all, as you’re probably used to cleaning with bleach. Bleach is actually way too harsh of a chemical for your toilet and septic system. Rather than focusing on cleaning stains with bleach, you may want to consider using vinegar instead.