Municipal sewer systems cope with tons of waste that never should have gotten into the sewers in the first place. These products you should never flush are a big part of the problem. Find another way to dispose of:
Cat litter is absorbent. Most often it is made of clay, and may also contain sand. Its purpose is to form clumps. If you flush it, the clumps form in your sewer line, and these can cause clogs and backups.
Feminine Hygiene Products
Also designed for absorbency, feminine hygiene products don’t break down or dissolve in water. Instead, they’ll absorb it and expand, creating blockages in pipes.
When cooking oil cools, it congeals. In New York City, cooking oil and grease that congeals and picks up other debris in the sewer lines forms “fatbergs” in the sewers, slowing down waste disposal.
Dental Floss, Hair, or String
You’ve seen what hair can do to bathroom drains. Dental floss can be even worse, because it is made to pick up food debris. Don’t flush stringy things, because they can form the foundation for clogs.
Food won’t break down quickly enough to avoid clogging your sewer line. Never scrape plates into the toilet. Toilets and the pipes that carry waste away from them aren’t designed to handle undigested food. It can jam in narrow parts of the pipes and cause blockages.
“Flushable” is a misnomer. Wipes, including makeup removers, baby wipes, and disinfectant wipes don’t dissolve in water. Even the “flushable” ones don’t break down fast enough for older sewer systems in cities like New York.
While your pills may dissolve, they add pharmaceutical chemicals to the water supply, causing contamination that treatment plants aren’t designed to remove. Take unused medication to a designated collection point.
Cotton Facial Pads or Swabs
Cotton may seem like a natural, biodegradable substance, but cotton products don’t break down in sewer lines. They clump up together, collect other debris, and form blockages or clogs in sewer lines.
Paper Towels and Tissues
Just because it is paper doesn’t mean it is flushable. Paper towels and facial tissues aren’t made to dissolve like toilet paper. Throw them in the trash, not the toilet.
Sticky, icky, and non-soluble, gum will lodge in pipes and never break down. It will choose a point in your pipes to stick and stay, possibly picking up and hanging on to other debris.
Plastic doesn’t break down. Even small plastic bottle caps and toys can plug pipes. If plastic drops into the toilet, put on rubber gloves and fish it out. That will be less gross than dealing with a sewer backup.
Accumulation of debris, grease and oil, wipes, cigarette butts, and other non-human solid waste can damage sewer lines badly enough that you’ll need to pay for costly repair, or even look up sewer line replacement companies. Keep your pipes healthy by keeping products you should never flush out of the sewer lines.