Q:

What should you not flush down a toilet?

A:

Quick Answer

Never flush floss, feminine hygiene products, wipes, cigarette butts, dryer sheets and other bulky items down the toilet. Flushing these items may lead to expensive plumbing problems as well as issues at the water treatment facility.

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Full Answer

Dental floss is not biodegradable, and it easily snags on rough pipes, potentially leading to clogs. It can also become entangled in equipment at the local pump station. Although some tampon and sanitary napkin packages encourage users to flush used items down the toilet, these items snag easily, potentially clogging the pipe after several flushes. The cotton in these products does not break down easily, which may lead to problems in the septic system if one is present. All feminine hygiene products must be taken from the water treatment plant to the landfill as solid waste.

Items such as antibacterial hand wipes, facial tissues and baby wipes should not be flushed even if the package reads "flushable," since they may get caught in an existing clog, exacerbating the problem. Cigarette butts are nonbiodegradable, and dryer sheets both contribute to clogs and cause problems at watersheds and treatment facilities because they contain toxic chemicals. Avoid throwing these items in a storm sewer or sanitary sewer; place them in the trash instead.

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