9 Common Items You Should Never Flush Down the Toilet

Little boy in bathroom flushing the toilet, beautiful mother helping him
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You might be surprised by what everyday items you shouldn’t flush. Your toilet is one of the more frequently-used appliances in your home. Constant use with unconscious flushing can lead to necessary repairs. So, we’ll go over what NOT to flush down your toilet.

  • 01 of 09

    Wipes & Paper Towels

    Paper towels
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    Don’t be fooled by labels. “Flushable” sanitary wipes do not disintegrate in water as quickly as toilet paper. This can lead to clogged sewer pipes or a clogged toilet. Items that go down your toilet should be water-soluble. In other words, the item needs to be able to dissolve in water. Sanitary wipes and paper towels are made to collect water and messes and can lead to trouble for you and the local water treatment facility.

  • 02 of 09

    Dental Floss & Hair

    closeup of toothbrush and dental floss
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    Tiny strands seem like they would flow through piping with the rest of the waste. Neither hair nor floss are made of degradable material, so they can tangle up and stick to anything they pass in your sewage system, creating large clogs. Clogs in your pipes and sewage system can cost you on average $197, according to ImproveNet.

  • 03 of 09

    Tampons, Cotton & Bandages

    Close-up of cotton swabs with cotton balls
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    There are a few common personal items we flush down the toilet daily that we really need to think twice about. Cotton swabs, Band-Aids, and tampons are three such items. Tiny cotton balls seem harmless but have been known to build up in bends of piping, ultimately creating a blockage. Band-Aids are another item that is made from non-biodegradable plastic. This is both terrible for the environment and terrible for your septic tank and sewage system. While there are parts of a tampon that will eventually break down in the water, there is no way of knowing how fast they will break down in the water, so avoid flushing these by putting a trash can in your bathroom.

  • 04 of 09

    Chewing Gum & Food

    Close-up of bubble gum
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    Gum will never dissolve in water and will stick to anything it’s flushed down with. When you’re done, just wrap your gum in paper and toss it in the trash. This can also be said for any leftover food you’re not planning to finish. Find the nearest trash can and dispose of it properly. Avoid calling a plumber and save time and money by being conscious of what you flush. According to homeowner data, the average toilet repair costs between $187 and $293, so do yourself a favor and think before you flush. 

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09


    Olive oil in glass bottle
    Maria Kallin / Getty Images

    Along with gum and food, you should never dispose of cooking fats down your toilet drain or garbage disposal. While they may look like liquids now, they will cool and turn into a wax that will clog your drains.

  • 06 of 09


    Close-Up Of Cigarette In Ashtray On Table
    Benjamin Egerland / EyeEm / Getty Images

    These belong in your trash or ash tray, period. The filters and plastic-tipped butts can get stuck in your septic tank very easily—not to mention contaminate the water with carcinogens and other toxins.

  • 07 of 09

    Fish, Snakes & Pets

    Fight fish
    KEMMUD SUDSAKORN / Getty Images

    Animals, dead or alive, will never disintegrate in water. Even smaller animals run a great chance of clogging your sewage system. Give them a proper burial in the backyard instead.

  • 08 of 09

    Kitty Litter

    USA, Illinois, Metamora, Cat at litter box
    Vstock LLC / Getty Images

    Flushing your cat’s litter away seems logical, after all, it’s your cat’s poop and pee. However, the waste of your cat and the litter itself are both very bad for your sewage system. Cat litter is made of clay and sand, which are both very absorbent. Your cat’s waste contains a variety of toxins and parasites that can be dangerous to water supplies.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09


    Photography by ZhangXun / Getty Images

    A lot of us think that flushing unwanted or unneeded medication down the toilet is safer for the people around us, but it’s actually quite risky. Drugs can contaminate water supplies and kill or harm bacteria and other species in the water. Luckily, there are many places you can go to properly dispose of your medication. Find a local disposal program to help get rid of medications properly.

Now that you’re aware of what you should and shouldn’t flush down your toilet, we can all take a little more precaution and responsibility when using our porcelain thrown. Take the time to only flush waste and toilet paper and avoid that awkward phone call to a plumber.