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10 Things You Should Never Flush Down the Toilet

We’ve all been tempted to toss gnarly, soiled items into the toilet to get them quickly out of sight — especially the rank-smelling ones. Just one poopy baby wipe can’t hurt, right?

Wrong. Toilets are designed to remove only waste. They can handle a reasonable amount of toilet paper per flush, but anything else is a plumbing nightmare waiting to happen. Worst-case scenario: a blockage farther down your sewer line that makes your plumbing fixtures unusable and causes waste water to bubble up out of your drains.

Here are 10 things you should never flush down the toilet.

Chewing Gum

We’re familiar with the frustration of stepping in soft bubblegum or crossing your legs under the table at the pub and finding it smeared on your pants. But gum in your pipes is worse. Because it’s like glue, it sticks to pipes and wads of toilet paper, creating a bulbous blockage.

Cotton Products, Like Cotton Swabs, Cotton Balls and Makeup Remover Pads

Don’t be fooled by the packaging on some cotton products. Despite what the labels say, none are truly flushable. Cotton doesn’t break down the same way toilet paper does. Instead, cotton travels down the pipeline until it snags on your pipes or forges a cluster with other items.

First Aid Bandages

Tearing a bandage off a hairy patch may be worse than the injury it once covered up. Don’t let that pain cloud your judgement. That bandage goes in the garbage — not just because of the plastic, but also because bandages have a sticky side, carrying the same risk as gum.

Feminine Hygiene Products

Tampons, applicators, pads, liners and related packaging — all no! Especially since most trips to the loo that involve feminine hygiene also involve larger amounts of TP. These products are notorious for clogging toilets and sewer lines.

Baby Wipes

Why put a mucky baby wipe in the garbage when you can flush it down the toilet and pretend that poonami never happened? Because the alternative — a bunged-up toilet or pipe — is far worse! Make the smart choice for your future self and toss it in the trash or invest in a diaper genie.

Paper Towel and Tissues

What’s important to know is that paper towel and facial tissues are designed to absorb water (not break down in water like toilet paper), so these are bound to eventually get clumpy and jammed.

Dental Floss

Yay, you flossed! Don’t change that good karma into bad by tossing it in the toilet. It may seem harmless, but stringy things can wreak havoc as they cluster and knot together with other waste.


Like floss, hair has the potential to tangle together with other waste and clog the pipes. Clean your hairbrush over the garbage instead.

Large Wads of Toilet Paper

Can you spare a square? Let’s be honest, we usually need more than one. But we certainly don’t require half a roll. Make sure not to put too much in the bowl before flushing (we’re looking at you toddlers and tweens!). Use less or conquer and divide between flushes.


Bookmark our Plumbing page so you can call us fast if you have a plumbing emergency!

Want to learn more about your household plumbing? Be sure to read our Ultimate Plumbing Guide.

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