Your toilet can only safely be used to dispose of two things: human waste and toilet paper. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most commonly flushed items that should never, ever go down the pipes.
Kitty litter is heavy, absorbent and clumping, which makes it bad for pipes and sewers. Kitty litter also contains cat poop, which can contain a certain type of bacteria that is hazardous for the environment and human health.
Wet wipes are causing the downfall of New York sewers, and they can clog sewers where you live too. Wipes can travel through pipes and into the sewers, but unfortunately they don’t biodegrade quickly enough. Wipes will form giant clumps that can clog sewers over time, leading to backups and expensive repair bills.
It’s tempting to throw hair into your toilet and flush, but hair can form large clumps that can clog pipes. To be on the safe side, throw hair into your garbage.
Paper towels and facial tissue may seem similar to toilet paper, but paper towels and facial tissues are tougher than toilet paper. These products take longer to biodegrade in your pipes and while they’re biodegrading, they’re likely to clog your system.
Although medicine won’t clog your sewers, it can still contaminate the water supply. Instead of flushing old medicine down the toilet, the FDA recommends disposing of your medications by taking unused medicine to a medicine take-back program in your area. If such a program is unavailable, the FDA recommends encapsulating your medicine in dirt, dumping it into a plastic bag and throwing it in your trash. You should also check the medicine bottle for disposal instructions.
By design, tampons are tough, absorbent and expandable. This makes tampons basically the last thing you ever want to flush down your pipes. Like kitty litter and adult wipes, some tampons may be marketed as “flushable,” but flushable is a relative term. Although tampons are likely to make it down the toilet and into the pipes, they can clog the pipe or collect in the sewers and cause a backup. Never flush tampons down the toilet.
If you have a septic tank, your system may be more sensitive than a standard sewer system. Septic tanks are giant underground tanks that collect solid waste in the bottom of the tank. The more solid waste that collects in the tank, the more frequently the tank needs to be pumped. If you are in the habit of flushing non-human waste down the pipes, plan to pump your tank on an annual basis. Flushing cleaning products and medicines down your tank can kill the beneficial bacteria that helps break down the solid waste. To dispose of cleaning products like bleach and antibacterial soaps, contact your local sanitation department for advice.
If you regularly flush forbidden items down your toilet, it’s possible that your system will develop clogs from time to time. If you need to have your pipes cleared from time to time, contact Terry’s Plumbing for help. We clear clogs and service sewers in Pittsburgh.