Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Things That Should Never Go Down The Toilet

It can be very tempting to dispose of something we don't want around by flushing it down the toilet. Makeup, goldfish, condoms-all are things we'd rather flush than put in the trash. However, is this a good idea? What sorts of things are okay to put in the toilet and which are not?

Basically, nothing should be flushed down the toilet except what the toilet is made for. Things that are flushed into the sewer systems can possibly make their way into the general water supply, even if the water is run through a treatment plant first. As effective as they are, plants and filters can only go *so* far. Even if something doesn't get into the water supply, though, they can still cause problems with private septic systems. Trust me, the last thing you want is for your septic system to break down or get backed up! Septic systems can cost hundreds of dollars to repair, which most of us don't have lying around. That's not even considering how disgusting it is to have sewage coming out of the pipes into your home!

Specific things that should never go down the toilet are:
-Paper towels. This may sound odd, but paper towels and other paper products (cardboard tampon applicators, etc) should not go down the toilet because they are not made to "break up" the way toilet paper does. That, and tampon applicators are of a shape that can get stuck on the walls of pipes and prevent other materials from passing through. Diapers, maxi pads and any cloth-like personal cleanser (i.e. baby wipes) should not be flushed for the same reasons.
-Any sort of toxic chemical. You should never dispose of things such as mortar, wood stains, anti-freeze or any other kind of car or home-maintenance substance through the water system, toilet or otherwise. Ditto cat litter, prescription drugs or other pharmaceutical items. If you must dispose of these items, use the “regular” garbage cans. These chemicals can wreak havoc on plumbing as well as the water system in general. Like I said above, filters can only do so much.
-Oils, grease and fats. Sure, they might be in liquid form now. The moment they get into the sewer system, however, they begin to become solid and clog everything up. They also attract rats and other vermin you'd rather not have around.
-Toys. This one should be obvious, but it happens all the time. They get caught in pipes and block anything else from going down. Your daughter shouldn't be taking her brother's "army men" anyway.
-Anything made of cotton. This includes tampons, although I'm guilty of this too. Cotton soaks up liquid, clogging drains and pipes.
-Animals. The urban legends about crocodiles growing in the sewers as a result of having been flushed as babies may not be true, but that doesn't mean that it's okay to flush a dead animal down the toilet. All household pets-even goldfish!-should be buried or cremated after they die instead of going down the toilet.

As you can see, toilets and toilet flushing are really only made for one purpose. A lot of these may sound like odd things to flush down a toilet, but local treatment plants and sewer authorities probably wouldn't feel the need to issue these advisories if someone hadn't done it at least once.

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