10 Things You Really Shouldn’t Flush Down a Toilet

Johnson Plumbing has over 20 years of expertise in the Reno, Nevada region, repairing plumbing problems. So we know a thing or two about keeping your plumbing in excellent shape. 

When plumbing goes wrong, it can go spectacularly wrong, resulting in costly repairs, sometimes significant replacements, and waterwork complications. Often, we get called out for blocked toilets. You can avoid calls like these by not flushing the items listed below. Some of these are common sense, while others may just surprise you. 


While we all know there are lots of types of objects that simply should not be flushed, we’re all guilty of tossing them into the toilet, every now and then.  It’s just so much easier to toss that earbud or a bit of used dental floss into the water bowl than it is to go over to the trash can at times. Still, your shortage of enthusiasm or, for want of a better description, utter indifference might lead to significant plumbing problems. After all, you don’t want to have to hire a plumber and spend a small fortune on a crisis that could have been prevented easily. 


The Consequences of Bad Flushing. 

Personal care, hygiene items, and any other junk that will fit in a toilet bowl are not supposed to be dumped in our home’s toilets. If you really want to keep your toilet functioning correctly, you can just flush three things: paper (strictly toilet paper only!), and you can probably guess what the other two Ps are. Apart from the obvious blocking and having to call for a plumber, there is another reason: water contamination. 

After we flush, the water that gets used, called wastewater, is only beginning its journey. The wastewater’s direction usually takes one of two directions. It either goes into a septic tank near your property or into a pipe to your community’s municipal sewer on the way to a treatment plant. 

Water travels past a screen of metal rods before reaching your local treatment plant, which filters bigger materials and things that get into the sewers.

Everything then proceeds to the settling tank, where solids such as sand and gravel picked up along the route settle to the bottom. Other “flushables” are removed at these early treatment sites as well.

Did you know that paper towels from public toilets account for 50% of the so-called non-dispersible material in wastewater, followed by 25% of baby wipes, and then a combination of condoms, cosmetic wipes, tampon applicators, and other items? Pretty gross, right? 

This means that every time you flush these nasty items down the toilet, you’re damaging your and your communities’ plumbing and polluting your local water resources. 


1. Baby Wipes 

Never flush baby wipes, even if they claim they’re flushable. This is critical.   Clogs are usually caused by these products, which should always be disposed of in a trashcan. Even “flushable” wipes don’t break down like toilet paper, which might lead to plumbing issues down the road.


2. Paper Towels and Tissues 

Remember the three Ps mentioned earlier? Paper towels and tissues may look pretty similar to toilet paper, but they aren’t meant to break down the same way toilet paper does. If you must use paper towels or tissues instead of toilet paper, toss them in the trash.


3. Feminine Products 

Menstrual products (tampons, pads, and other similar items) should never be flushed into the toilet. Why? It should be obvious. These items are designed to collect water rather than break down in it, so they will simply expand when flushed, which is terrible for your plumbing. It is an instant blockage waiting to happen. 


4. Dental Floss 

Flushing dental floss can pollute and damage the environment, in addition to clogging your toilet. When the floss is flushed, it transforms into a net that catches and holds other waste; it can even wrap around components of your septic system, causing the engine to burn out. You’ll be stuck with an overflowing septic tank until you can get it fixed. And no one needs that. 


5. Cat Litter 

While some kitty litter manufacturers claim that their product is flushable, most toilets don’t utilize enough water to transport the litter down through the pipes efficiently. It adds extra contaminants to the water, making it more challenging to clean and recycle. Litter-box trash should not be flushed, as the litter dehydrates the waste, while toilets are designed to remove water-soluble debris. In summary, do not dump kitty litter down the toilet, even if the manufacturer states it is flushable.


6. Grease and Oil 

It might seem like a good idea to put hot, liquid grease in the toilet to avoid pouring it into the kitchen sink or putting it in the trash can. But as any chef will tell you, grease doesn’t stay liquid for long, and it can solidify in your pipes and give you a clog. Not to mention that hot grease and oil do NOT react well with water, and you may injure yourself. Your best bet is to let it cool in the pan and scrape it into the garbage can.


7. Cigarettes 

For a variety of reasons, cigarette butts are terrible. They smell bad, they look bad, and they tend to pile up. Apart from that, when you throw the filters into your toilet, they might accumulate in your pipes, causing a terrible blockage. That’s bad enough, but there’s another problem with dumping cigarette butts down the toilet: they’re hazardous. Waste treatment centers are excellent at filtering organic waste from the water, but the harmful compounds in cigarettes have a significant impact on the environment. It’s the water version of secondhand smoke. 


8. Chewing Gum

Gum is difficult to break down. Yes, the acids in your stomach will get the job done, putting to rest the old wives’ tale about swallowing chewing gum, but it’s indestructible compared to the water in your pipes.  Worse still, the gum is extremely sticky. If it clings to the interior of your drainpipe, it may hook onto other objects, blocking water flow and eventually causing blockages or leaks. Just throw it away.


9. Condoms 

This is probably the most horrible thing dumped into toilets on a regular basis. Not only is it disgusting because they and their contents wind up in public waterways, but they’re also not biodegradable. The latex used to manufacture condoms causes severe problems in the sewer network. It can get tangled around motors, stuck in filters, and create major mechanical breakdowns. So keep it private and dump it in the garbage.


10. Bleach 

We hear you say: “but I use bleach to clean my toilet. How can it be bad?” The short answer is; bleach is corrosive. It is manufactured that way and can ruin your pipes. If you’ve recently used any type of toilet bowl cleaning, using bleach might result in a deadly chemical reaction. Just use toilet cleaning products made for that purpose.


In Summary 

When flushing things down the toilet, there are two things to think about: the immediate and long-term repercussions on your plumbing system, as well as the environmental impact. It may appear easy to simply flush some items away, but you might be setting yourself up for a future tragedy. 

This can be in the form of expensive repair bills, various foul smells, leaks, and making your neighbors learn to genuinely hate you if your septic tank floods everywhere. Don’t be that person.

We discussed the environmental damage that could be done. Imagine your family and friends drinking and bathing in the water you helped to contaminate. Not to mention, it is the most precious resource on earth, and we have to do everything we can to look after and preserve it. 

So, to help yourself avoid temptation, keep a trash can next to your toilet. Disposing of your waste in a responsible way is a simple thing that will save you tears, money, and your sense of smell. 


Johnson Plumbing is a renowned emergency plumbing service provider. We’re delighted to provide top-notch local plumbing services to Reno, Sparks, Carson, and the neighboring Northern Nevada locations. Johnson Plumbing takes pleasure in our work and ensures that it is finished the first time correctly.

24/7 Emergency Plumbing Problems Fixed!

Should the need arise for an urgent visit from one of our plumbers, We are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to assist with any emergency plumbing. Not just because of Northern Nevada’s harsh climate that subjects plumbing pipes to extreme temperatures. We know that unexpected plumbing crises do not keep office hours.  

Due to Northern Nevada’s harsh climate, plumbing pipes are exposed to extreme temperatures. Our plumbers will be at your house or workplace as soon as possible. They will examine your repairs and provide you with a detailed estimate. They will be sure to leave your property clean and be professional until the job is done.

Contact Johnson Plumbing for all your emergency plumbing needs near you. 

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