What NOT to flush down the toilet

What to Flush or NOT to Flush?

We all think we know what to flush, like toilet paper, it is made to be flushed. But what about other items that are labeled “flushable”, are they ok to flush?

Are tissues, baby wipes, tampon applicators, tampons or paper towels ok to flush?

Today, we’re covering exactly what you can and cannot flush down your toilet so that you do not waste money on preventable plumbing problems.

Test to determine if it is flushable or not:

  1. get two bowls of water
  2. put a few sheets of your regular toilet paper in one
  3. put the thing you want to flush in the other
  4. swirl around, wait 5 min.

IF the item you want to flush does not show significant signs of degrading in the water… DON'T FLUSH IT. Toilet paper is designed to breakdown. If you flush items that do not breakdown when wet, expect clogs and the need to hire a plumber.

Can I flush…

Facial Tissue or Kleenexes

Don’t flush. While thin facial tissues are probably ok, makeup removal wipes and thick tissues like Puffs tissues and those with lotion, like Puffs Plus, are not appropriate to flush. These should go in the trash can, not your toilet. The nature of facial wipes and thick tissues is that they become clumpy, sticky, and are non-degradable in a pipe, leading to the potential for blockages.

The features that you like in these thick, plus tissues are the exact features that make them terrible for your home's plumbing.

Paper Towels

Don’t flush. You might think because these come on a roll like toilet paper, sold on the same aisle and are made from similar materials that they are flushable too. The fact is, it isn’t just the size of an entire paper towel compared to a few squares of TP, it’s also the fibrous makeup of the towels that aren’t suitable for your sewer. Pitch them the trash instead! To go a step further, stop buying them at all and use washable cloths and rags instead. This is better for your wallet and the environment.

Baby Wipes or “Flushable” Wipes

Flushable wipes, surely those are flushable? NO! Don’t flush. If you want to be as conservative as possible with your plumbing health, you will stick to toilet paper and well, you know… poop.

These towelettes might seem harmless but they’re actually very problematic inside your plumbing system and are difficult to fish out – believe us. The same is true for eyeglasses wipes, makeup remover wipes, or any other kind of non-toilet paper wipe.

Feminine Hygiene Products

DON’T flush pads! These products are dense for a reason, they do not break down quickly or easily and should never ever be flushed. This is a big category, tampons*, their applicators, that little plastic strip on the back of a pad, the pad itself, or other packaging are NOT suitable for your toilet to flush and process and should never be flushed.

*Used tampons are a 90% ok kinda situation. Most plumbing systems do just fine with them, and most women do flush them as they are not very bulky. If you have an old finicky system, it might be best to wrap in TP and toss in the waste basket.

Just wrap the used item in TP and toss it in the trash. BUT, make sure you have a wastebasket with a heavy lid if you have dogs. I learned this one the hard way.

If you have a toilet that clogs all the time, you may have a partial blockage somewhere that needs to be rooted out.

If you have a young woman in your home, what to flush needs to be taught, they may assume these products are flushable. Save them from the embarrassment of causing a clog and having to come to find you for help. Be proactively kind by adding what to flush and what not to flush in their puberty education. Seriously, she is already stressed enough.

Food Items or Kitchen Waste

So, Uncle Gary brought over his famous pickled eggs and you don’t have the heart to tell him you hate them? You don’t want to throw them away because they smell unbelievably bad, but you have to get rid of them somehow. Why not a little flush down the toilet? No one has to know.

Think again! Flushing any type of food waste or leftovers down the toilet is not a great idea. While many liquids would process down your drain the way human waste does, it’s best not to flush and hope that these items would become a serious clog. Don’t risk it.

Cooking Grease

Don't flush! Grease of any kind should never be poured down a drain, period. Yes, it is a liquid that can easily be dumped down the drain; the problem is, when it cools it will congeal and clog up your pipes. Always collect grease in a glass jar and throw it into the trash or save it for reuse (especially bacon grease).

Q-Tips and cotton balls

Toilet paper is made of cotton, it biodegrades, shouldn’t QTips and cotton balls be safe to flush? Nope, so, don't flush. They are not made from the same type of cotton, they clump together causing blockages and the bends in the pipes.

Chewing gum you want to get rid of – To Flush or Not To Flush?

Don’t Flush! Your toilet is not a trash can. If it didn’t come from your colon or the great toilet paper Gods above, do not – DO NOT – flush it. Chewing gum is no exception.


Uh, no bueno. Just because they house the waste from tiny humans does not mean they’re ok to flush. Diapers are technically-advanced materials that are made to absorb a lot of liquid and expand. We’ve all seen that kid at the pool with a water-logged, sagging diaper. Any diaper, even a preemie diaper will 100% cause a blockage in your pipes.

Cigarette Butts

Cigarettes are full of toxic chemicals that will go straight into the water system when flushed. Each flush uses up to 3.5 gallons of water; the result is a big no-no – don't flush. If you smoke, throw your butt away properly… or better, stop smoking : )


For the love of all, don't flush. While these may not clog your drain, they are still not to be disposed of this way. Capsules and pills are made to break down in water which can have toxic effects on our groundwater supplies and also harm wildlife. Look for “take back med programs” in your community to safely dispose of medications.

So, what is left that is flushable…? Poop and toilet paper.

There is a little extra caveat here on toilet paper. Thick and plush toilet paper can sometimes cause a clog. You may need an extra flush to avoid too much toilet paper clogging the drain. We love Charmin Ultra whoop de doo paper too, but be cautious with the amount you use per flush. Educate your kids that the good quality TP comes with rules. Threatening them with buying the same brand, 1-ply paper their school uses will change their 15-square-habit really quick. 

Despite your precautions, clogs happen.

If you (or a cute tiny human that lives in, or visits your home) have already flushed the wrong item down your toilet and it has caused a problem for you, don’t be afraid to call us. Seriously, we deal with potty stuff day in and day out.

Don't just keep flushing it and hoping for the best.

Caution: If you have that one toilet in the house that backs up often, there is an issue beyond your plunger’s capabilities, call us there is inevitably something in the pipes that need to be dealt with by a professional.

Call Nichols & Phipps. We promise, what happens in the bathroom stays in the bathroom.
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