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10 Things You Should Never Flush Down The Toilet

“Down the toilet” is a phrase we’ve all probably used to describe a situation that went wrong, like when we waste money on something we didn’t really need or the Orioles season last year after April (we kid because we love those O’s). While it’s a fun phrase to describe a figurative disaster, the wrong thing going down the actual toilet can be a literal disaster. Call it forgetfulness or laziness, but we’re all guilty of flushing something we probably shouldn’t from time to time. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 10 things you should never flush down the toilet to save you from disaster down the road.

1. Moist Towelettes

Trust us, even the “flushable” wipes aren’t really flushable. Sure, they might go down, but the hitch is what happens once they do. Unlike toilet paper that disintegrates in water, wet wipes remain intact and can clog your lines. A better option is to keep a lined wastebasket with a lid nearby for disposing of the wipes.

2. Cotton Swabs

Using these handy swabs to clean your ears before bed is a popular part of many bedtime routines—but, whatever you do, don’t flush them when you’re done. Like wipes, they don’t break down and can get caught in narrow spots like drainpipe bends. Stick to tossing them in the trash.

3. Feminine Products

Feminine products like tampons and sanitary pads can wreak havoc on plumbing systems because they absorb liquid—just as they’re intended to do. The problem is, absorbing that liquid in your pipes can cause the products to swell, which leads to toilet back-ups and overflows. Once again, the trash can is the better option here.

4. Hair

Cleaning out your hairbrush and dropping the remnants in the toilet seems innocent enough, but it can cause significant problems down the road. When hair becomes wet, it coagulates and can latch on to the inside of pipes. Ultimately, that collection of build-ups will slow or catch other waste being flushed and cause a clog. We recommend putting the hair into a paper towel and disposing of it in your trash can.

5. Paper Towels

And speaking of paper towels, those are definitely on the list. Much like we talked about with feminine products, paper towels’ purpose is to absorb water—so it’s safe to say they aren’t likely to dissolve like toilet paper. As tempting as it may be to drop them in the toilet, toss ‘em in the trash.

6. Expired and Unused Medication

This one hurt to include because we know you’re coming from a good place. Why risk throwing away medication that can get into the wrong hands when you can just flush it, right? Unfortunately, medication that goes down the toilet can contaminate wastewater and your local water resources. Instead, look for a drug take-back site near you, which you can find on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s website.

7. Paint and Cleaning Supplies

Flushing paint and cleaning supplies—like those for ovens or windows—can also potentially have a harmful impact on the water you drink. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it’s best to find an authorized collection site for household hazardous waste. Earth911 allows you to search for collection sites designed for specific products like paint or household cleaning supplies.

8. Kitty Litter

While the toilet is obviously where you should do your business, we can’t say the same for your cat. Feline waste and kitty litter should never be flushed down the toilet. The waste can lead to parasites getting into the water supply, and the kitty litter can clog your pipes. Once you’ve securely bagged used kitty litter, you should dispose of it in the trash.

9. Cigarette Butts

This one seems obvious, but it bears mentioning. A cigarette is composed of nicotine, carcinogens, and loads of other materials that you certainly don’t want to leak into your water supply. As an added warning, you should also never throw a lit cigarette butt or ashes directly into a trashcan. Can’t find an ashtray? Use a non-combustible can filled with sand as a replacement. Once the remnants are cooled, dispose of the can in the trash.

10. Dental Floss

We’re all about good hygiene, so we’d never tell you to skip flossing. But what we will say is that flushing your dental floss—which is typically made up of tough nylon or Teflon—down the toilet can lead to an accumulation of materials and subsequently a clog. Just throw it in the trash. So, there you have it. Our top 10 things never to flush down the toilet. But if you ever find yourself in a situation where you (or someone in your home) accidentally flushed something that has caused a clog, don’t fret. Prime is here to help and get your toilet running perfectly again. Remember: Save time, call Prime!


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