In an effort to prevent germs and stay healthy, the popularity of Clorox® Wipes has skyrocketed. Importantly, flushing these products down the toilet can cause significant problems and back-ups with your pipes. Always double-check the packaging for disposal information. Taking a moment to follow proper disposal methods can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches.
Here are some common household products that you should never flush.
It’s crucial that you don’t flush disinfectant wipes. Instead of breaking down like toilet paper, these wipes get tangled with each other and quickly clog pipes and drains. Wipes may look small and flexible, but state officials warn that flushed wipes can cause backups in our household plumbing and septic, as well as at our wastewater treatment facilities. Once you use a wipe, just throw it in the trash instead! It’s essential for public safety and the health of your sewage system.
Wet wipes or “flushable wipes” also play a large part in drain clogs. Products, like baby wipes and towelettes, often can’t be broken down and get stuck in plumbing lines. Over time, they will form a large clog that requires a professional to remove. Even wipes labeled as “flushable” may not break down quickly enough to avoid a backup down the line. Avoid flushing any type of wipe and place them in the garbage after use.
Flushed paper towels are a big issue, especially in restaurants and other commercial spaces. Paper towels are tougher than toilet paper and, as such, have a harder time getting through the pipes without clogging them. Even some tissues are too thick for pipes or take longer for treatment systems to break down. With the overall increase in hand washing, many businesses are posting signs reminding people to only dispose of paper towels in the trash.
Cotton Balls and Q-Tips
Similarly, cotton balls and swabs don’t dissolve or break-down in water. Flushing a handful of cotton balls or a few Q-Tips might not seem like a big deal, but once they get stuck together in the drain, they can cause serious problems. Always dispose of these items in a trash receptacle. This also goes for similar sized items, like bandages. Just because they look small, doesn’t mean they’ll make it through your pipes.
Products Made from Absorbent Materials
Absorbent products include diapers, napkins, tampons, cat litter, etc. Anything made to absorb water is going to expand and create significant issues for your pipes. Some of these products may even be marketed as “flushable”, but you’re still taking a risk by trusting that they won’t bunch up and cause clogging. It may seem convenient, but in the long long run, flushing them is a bad choice. Wipes and other products are huge factors in causing clogged drains and back-ups.
Other items we recommend you keep out of your toilets:
- Chemicals: Products like disinfectants, photographic chemicals, gasoline, thinners, paints, pesticides, and varnishes will counteract the septic process and poison groundwater.
Cigarettes: These contain toxins that can contaminate groundwater.
Cleaning products (bleach, disinfectants): When choosing cleaning products, you want to use environmentally-friendly brands that won’t kill the good bacteria in your septic tank. They should be liquid, biodegradable detergents with no phosphates.
- Coffee grounds: These are not biodegradable.
- Dental floss: Floss is not biodegradable and tangles with other wastes causing clogs.
- Dirt: Never empty gardening or flower pots into the toilet.
- Food: It’s better to feed your scraps to an animal or throw them in the trash. Garbage disposals are discouraged when you have a septic tank.
- Garbage: Garbage is for the garbage, not your wastewater system.
- Grease: Grease, fats, and oils will harden and stick to your pipes causing clogs.
- Gum: This will stick to your pipes.
- Kitty Litter: Even though it may claim to be flushable, it will not break down.
- Medication: Many drugs are harmful to the environment, so consult your pharmacist on proper disposal.
Really, the only items that your toilet should have to handle are human waste and 1-ply toilet paper. We realize the above items may accidentally make their way into your septic tank, so to avoid problems, you need to schedule routine maintenance service. This includes having your tank pumped out every 1-2 years to remove solid waste that builds up over time. Other optional services could be annual inspections or drain cleaning.
For a full list of what not to flush, check out our Septic Do’s and Don’ts! Staying proactive and using proper disposal methods can prevent drain clogs and extend the life of your wastewater system. If you are experiencing clogged drains or pipes, Wind River Environmental is always available to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule a service!