We know the feeling. You’re standing over the sink wondering “can this go down the drain?” It might seem convenient and harmless to pour or flush something down every once in a while. But trust us, it’s better to trash or compost these items. Besides, if you have to ask yourself the question, err on the side of caution and just toss it. It could save you from a messy and expensive plumbing problem.
You might think a crushed up eggshell seems relatively harmless, but the sharp, jagged edges will do harm over time. They attach to already grimy pipes and then collect everything else coming down in its path. Disposing eggshells down the drain frequently will result in a clogged pipe.
Cooking grease congeals when it cools, which means it’ll do the same in your pipes. Not only grease, but any oil-based products will have the same effect – mayonnaise, salad dressing, butter, fat. All of these products will clog your pipes. If you need to throw away an oil-based product, wait until it cools then pour it in an old can or disposable container to toss in your garbage.
Paper Towels & Tissues
Yes, even tissues! These paper products are not designed to break down in water the way toilet paper does and they will back up a toilet’s drain. In the event that you need to use paper towels or tissues in place of toilet paper, we recommend throwing it the waste basket instead of flushing.
While we are on the topic of not-so-obvious items, let’s address baby wipes. Even the products that are labeled “flushable” are NOT flushable. Test this yourself. Place a piece of toilet paper and a “flushable” baby wipe in a bowl of water and let it sit for an hour. The toilet paper will quickly break down while the wipe will stay intact. Which means it can get lodge in your sewer pipes.
This one might shock you, but menstrual products are not meant to be flushed down the toilet. These products are meant to absorb fluids, not disintegrate in them. Plumbing systems — old or new — are not equipped for an onslaught of extremely absorbent materials. These products are better off in a wastebasket (consider a small, lidded garbage can for your bathroom).
Flour coagulates when mixed with water. This can clog your pipes by coating the edges and catching other bits of disposables trying to make their way down (like those eggshells from earlier in the article). Always throw your flour, whether mixed with water or not, in the garbage.
Here’s a morning ritual that may come to a screeching halt. Reusable coffee filters are great! Rinsing those filters out in your sink is not so great. Coffee grounds tend to clump together, especially if it is teamed with grimy pipes. So what can you do with your old grounds? We recommend tossing them, or better yet, learn how to compost in your home. Along with your coffee grounds, you can put your vegetable scraps, eggshells, and newspaper to work.
Again, some brands of cat litter do claim to be “flushable.” When considering most water-saving toilets only use about 1.6 gallons of water per flush, that is not enough to keep sandy litter moving through your pipes.
While you may think you’re flushing your dirty little secret down the drain, someone is certainly having to pay for it at your sewage treatment plant. That’s if it doesn’t clog the system, causing a massive sewage overflow. Condoms are a definite no.
It may seem like flushing old prescription medication is the safest way to dispose of them. Hey, they even dissolve in water. However, they can be toxic to wildlife. They also can contaminate drinking water. Talk to your local pharmacy about what to do with your old medications.
Remember, if you do accidentally flush something or your toilet gets clogged, call the professionals right away to address the problem. They can quickly find the best solution and get your toilet up and running again.