Some things just need to be said.
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your toilet isn’t a magical portal to Narnia. The things you flush don’t simply get obliterated out of its existence. Oh, no. Instead, the many common items that people unwittingly flush actually accumulate and clog up pipes, which in turn wreaks havoc on the process of our wastewater treatment. Every year clogged pipes can chalk up, private residences and cities, bills worth millions.
If you aren’t keen on racking expensive repair bills or worse, simply aren’t brave enough to survive the image of your clogged toilet overflowing with, well… (you get the idea) without bleaching your eyes, then read on to educate yourself on the 11 most common items that don’t belong in your toilet.
1. Baby Wipes And Wet Wipes
Despite what it may say on the packaging, wipes mustn’t ever be flushed down the toilet. Granted those thin, wispy buggers can easily slip from the toilet into your pipes. However, unlike toilet paper, baby wipes don’t actually disintegrate. Hence it’s when they reach the sewer system that all hell breaks loose.
Where They Belong: Dispose in the trash.
Though it may seem safer to keep dangerous drugs away from your children and pets by simply flushing them away, your decision could have a rather lasting impact. The wastewater treatment plants aren’t exactly built to remove drugs; hence the treated water actually carries unaltered pharmaceuticals all the way down to rivers. This is toxic to the aquatic ecosystem and can also pollute drinking water downstream.
Where They Belong: Deliver your expired medication to a ‘take-back program’ close to you.
May seem rather convenient, but condoms definitely aren’t meant to be flushed away. They too can clog up pipes and wreck damage at treatment plants.
Where They Belong: In the trash, please!
4. Harsh Chemicals
Very much like drugs, the harsh chemicals you use often aren’t caught and removed by the wastewater treatment plant. Instead, these untreated harsh chemicals end up polluting our waterways
Where They Belong: Hazardous household waste such as corrosive chemicals to clean your drain, paint thinners, insecticides and other chemicals can be given to recycling centers. Also, try using more eco-friendly cleansing products like castile soap or vinegar instead of ammonia or bleach.
5. Tissues, Cotton Balls, And Paper Towels
Despite their disarming resemblance to toilet paper, cotton balls and paper towels behave mighty different once they’re flushed down your toilet. Toilet paper disintegrates instantly upon flushing. Paper towels and tissue, in contrast, are designed to withstand the stresses of excessive volumes of liquid. Hence they can be the culprits behind some major blockages.
Where They Belong: In the bin!
6. Pads, Tampons, And Liners
As disgusting as it may feel to throw your used pad or tampon into your trash, that is exactly where it belongs. Otherwise, it’s simply going to result in a blockage at some wastewater treatment plant where—I kid you not—some poor soul will have to remove it manually.
Where They Belong: In your trash.
Uh-huh. Apparently, there are people who attempt to flush away dirty diapers. It’s unclear just how they manage to achieve this feat, but they allegedly do. If you happen to be one of these ingenious perpetrators—stop right now!
Where They Belong: You know very well.
8. Hair And Dental Floss
Though it may be tempting to simply flush down the knot of hair you collected in the shower, please desist. Dental floss and human hair have a tendency of getting tangled once flushed, producing a web that can produce a formidable clog, especially since they just don’t break down.
Where They Belong: This is getting old.
9. Cat Litter And Cat Poop
Digging through cat litter and collecting nasty, smelly clumps of poop isn’t exactly fun. We get it. But simply throwing it down your toilet isn’t the way to go at all. Even without the litter, cat feces happen to contain a harmful parasite by the name of Toxoplasma gondii, which can very well survive wastewater treatment.
Where They Belong: I swear, this is really getting redundant.
For crying out loud, you seem to have confused your toilet with your trash can. Coffee grounds and leftover food waste mustn’t ever be flushed. Period.
Where They Belong: This isn’t exactly rocket science.
Despite what Finding Nemo may have taught you, your dead pet does not belong in the toilet. It may degrade, but it can also spread diseases and breed harmful parasites in our water system.
Where They Belong: All small pets such as rats, hamsters, and fish, can be sent away with a proper home burial. Yes, they may lie with your trash, but you could always deliver a sweet eulogy first.
For most of us, the above-mentioned warnings don’t exactly come as a newsflash. For those who happened to learn something new today, well, congratulations.
Emaan is a voracious and rather indiscriminate reader. She is also a writer, history buff, insomniac, amateur doodle artist, terrible poet and a self-professed philosopher (but only after 3 am). Currently, she is pursuing a degree in medicine.