Toilet Wisdom: Beware of These Dangerous Items That Should NEVER Go Down the Drain

Toilet Wisdom: Beware of These Dangerous Items That Should NEVER Go Down the Drain
5 min read

You should never be in a rush to flush, especially if what you’re trying to flush has no business being in a toilet in the first place. 

 

Proper toilet usage and maintenance is crucial to the health of waterways and aquatic life; flushing unsuitable items can cost you a pretty penny in plumbing repairs, too. Toilet paper (and toilet paper only!) is all that you should flush. 

 Jordan Kelly, brand marketing manager at sustainable toilet paper company Oceans, has put together this guide to help you better understand what you should never – ever – flush down the loo. No excuses! 

Common household items  

How many times have you flushed a baby wipe or paper towel down the toilet? Don’t worry, this is a safe space, you can be open and honest. 

You can’t change the past, but you can change the future. Those are just two out of many common household items you shouldn’t ever flush down the toilet. 

Baby wipes and wet wipes – These are non-biodegradable and have huge clogging potential. Flush enough of them and they’ll eventually get wedged in your pipes, preventing the toilet from flushing completely. The result? Sewage backing up from the toilet and into your home. Ew. As well as this, wet wipes make up the vast majority of fatbergs that have blocked the sewage systems of towns and cities up and down the land. 

Paper towels and cotton balls – In a similar way, the material of paper towels and cotton balls means they struggle to break down in water, which could lead to a similar fate outlined above. Not only can this create a hideous mess, but an expensive one, too.  

Dental floss – It's great if you regularly floss (a quarter of Brits admitted they never do!) but what’s not great is if you flush the string down the toilet. Plumbing experts warn that it’s easy for dental floss to wrap around pipes, subsequently clogging them.  

Feminine hygiene products – Under no circumstances can sanitary pads or tampons be flushed down the toilet. The reason for this makes total sense, to be fair. The point of period products is to collect fluid; therefore, it wouldn’t be very effective if it broke down easily when liquid is involved.  

Chemicals and hazardous materials  

The need to get rid of chemicals and hazardous materials is a rare occurrence in many households, which might lead people to believe that flushing them down the toilet is fine as a ‘one-off’. This is not the case.  

Medication and drugs – Cleaning out your medicine cabinet? Keep everything well away from the toilet; flushing medication and drugs can contaminate our water supply. Not only can this be incredibly harmful for aquatic wildlife, but it can also end up in our drinking water… 

Cleaning products and chemicals – Chemicals can be damaging to both human health and the environment, and therefore must be treated and disposed of safely. Never pour these products down the toilet! Instead, seek professional advice and guidance. 

Paints, oils, and solvents – Products high in toxicity, such as paints, oils, and solvents, have no place in a toilet. Not only is there a risk of these harmful substances polluting our water supply, but they can also corrode the plumbing. Why take the risk when there are plenty of other ways to safely dispose of these products? 

BONUS: Miscellaneous items to avoid flushing  

While we’re on a (toilet paper) roll, let’s explore some more items that you might be tempted to flush down the toilet... but never, ever should.  

Cat litter – It might sound convenient to get rid of your cat’s waste with a quick flush, but the consequences can be dire. Be mindful of blockages, of course, but also the fact that cat faeces can be a major health risk for humans (ever head of the parasite toxoplasmosis gondii?). 

Condoms – Flushing used or unused condoms probably makes a decent amount of sense to some people, but it’s time to get the idea out of your head. This item can clog your toilet as well as harm the environment. It’s great you’ve chosen to wear one! Just make sure you dispose of it correctly, too.  

Hair – Whether you’ve just trimmed your beard or pulled a clump of hair out of your hairbrush, what you do next is crucial. Never flush hair down the toilet as it can stick to the inside of pipes, again causing risky blockages that just might set you back a pretty penny or two.  

Think twice before flush! 

You have a duty to practise responsible toilet usage and proper disposal methods. Failing to do this can dramatically harm yourself, your house, the ocean, and the environment! So much damage, and for what? 

Get rid of any unwanted items the right way. If you’re ever unsure, check the product label for guidance, and remember the toilet only likes the three P’s: pee, poop, and (toilet) paper! 

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Rachael Heron 2
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