Does It Flush? What Should and Shouldn’t Go In Your Toilet

Quarantip #61: Don’t Flush the Disinfectant Wipes

The spread of COVID-19 has forced Americans to spend more time in their homes and, by extension, more time in their bathrooms. And as items like toilet paper continue to sell out at a rapid clip, some may turn to alternatives.

Like our healthcare system, it’s important to remember that our wastewater treatment has its limits. We must all do our part to make sure our facilities are not strained past their breaking point — and that includes the facilities in your house.

Personal hygiene has become more crucial than ever during this pandemic. But knowing what to do with products like Clorox wipes after using them is just as important. Indeed, never forget the brave words of M.C. Hammer: Can’t flush this! To avoid any sewer backups in your home, there are essentials as to what you can and cannot flush safely down your toilet, and instead what needs to be disposed of in the recycling or garbage.

Here’s a list of what’s safe to flush and what’s not:

TOILET PAPER — SAFE
Toilet paper is specifically made from short cellulose fibers that break down easily in water and are carried away by your sewage system. And the odds are it’s completely disintegrated by the time your wastewater has reached a water treatment facility. But the cardboard tube left when you’ve finished the roll? That should be recycled instead.

PAPER TOWELS, NAPKINS & FACIAL TISSUES — NOT SAFE
While sometimes used interchangeably with toilet paper, these items are more resistant to breaking down, so they aren’t meant for flushing and could cause a serious clog.

DISINFECTANT WIPES — NOT SAFE
Great for cleaning off a countertop or door handle, not so great for flushing down the toilet — unless you like walking around in backed-up puddles of poo in your basement because of a clogged sewer system.

“FLUSHABLE” WIPES — NOT SAFE
This is the same thing as disinfectant wipes! While “flushable” may be in the name, it’s false advertising, friends. These also don’t break down as easily and can create blockages. Better to just throw them away.

HAIR — NOT SAFE
Hair has a tendency to tangle and bind other things that should not be in the collection system. Ever hear the term hairball? Yeah, it’s not just for cats to chew on.

CONDOMS, TAMPONS & PADS — NOT SAFE
Condoms, tampons and feminine pads are made to be resilient and therefore are some of the worst items you can flush. Please safely dispose of them in the garbage.

FOODSTUFFS — NOT SAFE
Leftovers are never for the toilet. Instead, try composting them or just throwing them away.

DIAPERS — NOT SAFE
Cloth or disposable, doesn’t matter. Not even the “flushable” kind. Again, false advertising. Just throw them away, please.

FLOSS, COTTON SWABS, MAKEUP REMOVER WIPES — NOT SAFE
Nope, can’t flush any of these either. We recommend keeping a wastebasket in your bathroom for these items.

PLASTIC OF ANY KIND — NOT SAFE
From contact lenses to toothpicks, no matter how small they are, these items will either get stuck in your pipes or get stuck in the filter at a water treatment plant. Just throw them away.

To recap, if it’s not human waste or toilet paper, odds are it shouldn’t go in the toilet.

As poor water quality can lead to infectious, water-related diseases, we strictly monitor water clarity and wastewater discharge to ensure the safety of communities – and will continue to do so throughout this pandemic by using innovative technology solutions and around-the-clock, real-time monitoring to ensure continuous, safe water resources service.

We thank you for helping us continue that work by using your sinks, showers and toilets properly and responsibly.