Do Not Flush
Whether due to the last of the toilet paper being used up or a moment of forgetfulness (or laziness), every so often homeowners flush something they shouldn’t—something that wasn't designed to disintegrate as well. When the "unsinkable" happens, they're left with an unwelcome mess, a visit from the plumber, and a hefty bill. Even if it doesn't cause the toilet to overflow immediately, you may be harming your home's pipes in the process and contributing to an even bigger problem in the local sewer system. Avoid all that inconvenience and damage by making sure you never flush these 10 things down the toilet.
1. “Flushable” Wipes
Feminine Hygiene Products
There's a good reason public bathrooms post signs warning users not to flush feminine hygiene products. Pads and tampons, which are designed to expand and retain fluids, won’t dissolve after being flushed down the pipes. To properly dispose of personal items, wrap them in toilet paper and throw them in the garbage can.
Related: Your Top 10 Bathroom Dilemmas—Solved
Paper towel manufacturers often tout the strength of their products. But there's a downside to all this durability: Because the paper is meant to stay strong when exposed to liquids, it won't break down like toilet paper does, making it likely to clog the toilet. Always throw used paper towels in the trash.
Not even a plumber relishes fishing used condoms out of clogged sewer lines. These latex prophylactics won’t biodegrade for years, so don’t introduce them into the water treatment system. Instead, wrap a used condom in toilet paper and dispose of it in a waste receptacle.
A single disposable diaper—even in a tiny newborn size—is likely to clog the commode. To get rid of a dirty diaper, roll it up and secure the ball with the diaper's adhesive strips. Slip the diaper into a small plastic bag, then toss the whole thing into the trash.
After you've cleaned your ears or dabbed away errant streaks of eyeliner, dropping your used cotton swab in the toilet may seem convenient. Resist the urge! Cotton swabs are notorious for getting stuck in drain pipe bends and catching everything else you flush, resulting in a huge clog.
Kitty litter—especially the “clumping” varieties—contain clay and sand that bind to moisture. When Fluffy does his business, the moisture transforms into hard chunks that can clog toilets and pipes. Instead of flushing, slip the waste and soiled litter into a disposable bag and secure it shut before throwing away.
Those big clumps of hair on your brush belong in the waste receptacle, not the toilet. Another non-dissolver, hair is quick to catch on any projections inside pipes. Those stringy pieces then snag other bits of waste, leading to formidable clogs that could require a drain snake to remove. Toss that tangle in the trash!
After completing your dentist-recommended daily flossing, don’t drop the used piece in the commode. Long strands of waxed or unwaxed floss can wrap around other items in the drainage system, quickly turning a little string into a big headache for a plumber. Plus, dental floss isn’t biodegradable.
Please Don't Flush
Avoid a mess—and a plumber's bill!
To jumpstart your holiday season, check out Bob Vila's favorite affordable stocking stuffers for everyone on your list!