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The Risk of Flushing Household Items

Sometimes, it may seem easy to toss that baby wipe into the toilet to flush it away instead of taking it to the trash. However, there are certain household items that you may be surprised to discover should never be flushed down your toilet. Flushing these items can present a risk to your plumbing system, and you might find yourself facing an unwelcome mess. These items can harm the pipes in your plumbing system as well as the local sewer system at large.

What Shouldn’t I Flush Down the Toilet?

Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, the following things should never be flushed down the toilet because they could cause serious harm to your plumbing system:

  • Baby wipes: Baby wipes have been the cause of a lot of clogs for people. Unfortunately, baby wipes do not disintegrate, and even the ones labeled “flushable” don’t disintegrate quickly enough. Instead, keep a trash can in your bathroom with a liner in it to collect used wipes.
  • Paper towels: Paper towels are not a good substitute for toilet paper if you run out. Paper towels were designed to absorb water, and therefore do not disintegrate in it. They have a high chance of creating a clog in your plumbing, so they should be thrown into the garbage.
  • Cotton products: Personal hygiene items made of cotton, such as cotton balls, cotton pads, and Q-Tips should never be flushed down the toilet. They do not break down quickly and they will create a clog in your pipes over time.
  • Menstrual products: Like paper towels, menstrual products such as sanitary pads and tampons were created to absorb liquid. Certain items will expand to a much larger size when they absorb liquid, and they can block pipes. These products should always be left in the trash can.
  • Dental floss: When flushed, dental floss can act as a catalyst for a large clog in your plumbing system. It does not break down, and it can wrap around other items that have been flushed. When this happens, a large clog is created.
  • Condoms: Condoms are made of latex, and latex takes years to biodegrade. Since they are open ended, they can collect items flushed after them and create a large blockage in the sewage system.
  • Diapers: A diaper would likely be difficult to flush, but some people with less experience may think they are meant to be disposed of this way. These products also expand in water and will almost certainly create a blockage in plumbing pipes
  • Medicine: If someone has leftover medication they need to dispose of, they should not flush it because it will contaminate the water it is flushed into. For information on disposing of medication properly in Indiana, click here.
  • Hair: If someone is in their bathroom cleaning the hair from their brush, they may be tempted to toss it into the toilet to dispose of it. This is dangerous because hair will form a net when flushed and catch things flushed afterwards, creating a blockage.

Signs of Clogged Pipes

Clogged pipes are often caused by objects being flushed that should have been disposed of in the trash instead. If something about your plumbing changes suddenly, you might suspect that you have a blockage. However, there are some specific signs to look out for. If you end up noticing any of these signs and cannot clear the blockage easily, you should contact a plumbing professional as soon as possible.

Water Pressure Changes

A sudden change in water pressure or water flow can be a sign of a clogged pipes. This change can show that a pipe has been broken or that water flow is being inhibited by a blockage. You may notice that the pressure has changed in certain spots but not in others, which can indicate the general area the blockage is in.

Slow Drains

If the drains in various parts of your home start to fill with water during use and drain very slowly, there is a good chance there is a clog of some sort preventing the water from passing through the pipes easily. This can be a symptom of organic buildup, but most of the time it is caused by a foreign object clogging up the pipes.

Changes in Toilet Water Level

If you notice that the water levels in your toilets become different after each flush, it may be a symptom of a blockage in one of your pipes. Fluctuating toilet water levels happen due to changes in water pressure. Clearing the blockage causing the changes in water pressure will return your toilet’s water level to normal.

Foul Odors

If any of the drains in your home begin to emit bad smells, it is a very telling sign that there is a blockage in the pipe. Blockages tend to collect things flushed after them, such as waste or things put down the garbage disposal. As they deteriorate, they will release foul odors. If you notice odors coming from your drains, you should contact a plumbing expert immediately.

Overflowing Toilet

If your toilet begins to overflow after you flush it, it is an obvious and urgent sign that there is a blockage in your pipes. When a toilet flushes, fresh water is added to the basin, and if the old water cannot pass through the pipes, the new water will cause the basin to overflow.


If you notice a gurgling sound coming from one of your drains while a different one is draining, you should consider it a hint that there is a blockage in your drain pipes. Gurgling noises indicate that there is a disruption in the flow of water, and water might be pushed into another drain instead of where it would go if there was no blockage.

High Water Bills

If you find that your water bill has increased significantly compared to the month before, you may have a blockage in your pipes that has cause your pipe to crack. Once cracked, a pipe will leak water that you’ll end up having to pay for. Catching this issue as soon as possible can help save you a lot of money in the long run.

Meyer’s Can Help You

Meyer’s is proud to provide 24-hour emergency plumbing repairs to our community. We can stop leaks, unclog drains, fix floods, and make any plumbing issue right. We offer our customers fair, competitive pricing with no hidden fees. We understand that plumbing issues can cause a great deal of stress, which is why we make sure to thoroughly answer any question a customer may have. After serving the community for more than 70 years, we hope our reputation for reliability and integrity will encourage you to contact us for your plumbing needs. Reach out today at (219) 240-0610 or through our contact form online.