Your toilet is a safe and sanitary way of disposing of both solid and liquid waste, particularly urine and fecal matter, and for some people this makes a toilet appear to be a great way to get rid of other things as well. However, this is a common mistake in thought—toilets are not built to handle anything and everything, and certain types of waste can create a jam that clogs your toilet rather quickly. A clogged toilet can be a disaster as well, overflowing and sending waste spewing out onto the floor of your bathroom.
If you want to avoid one of these plumbing emergencies, here is a short list of five things you should avoid flushing down the drain as they greatly increase the chances of a toilet-blocking clog in your drain line.
1. Paper Towels
If you run out of toilet paper, you know how frustrating and helpless it can be. What might you have nearby that will suffice in this most dire of sticky situations? If you have a roll of paper towels, you may be tempted to think you’re saved. It may be uncomfortable, but they’re a paper product so they’ll get the job done.
That may be true, but don’t flush them down the toilet. Paper towels are thick and designed to hold their integrity when wet, meaning they don’t disintegrate or fall apart nearly as easily as regular toilet paper does. And because they’re usually larger in size, paper towels take up a lot more space in your lines, resulting in faster and tougher clogs to get rid of. If you absolutely have to use a paper towel or two, throw them away in the regular trash rather than flush them down the drain.
2. Food Waste
Do you live in a home, apartment, or condo that doesn’t have a garbage disposal? Believe it or not, we’ve heard of a few instances where people have opted to use their toilet as a way to safely and quickly get rid of their food waste. The logic seems sound: they both lead to the same place, and your toilet is built to handle waste that could potentially be larger, so some food scraps shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Well here’s the thing: food waste can be sticky, greasy, or stringy, and that could lead to clogs building up in your toilet drain line. In much the same way that your garbage disposal can’t and shouldn’t be relied on to handle anything and everything, flushing the same types of food waste down your toilet could lead to a clog that’s extremely difficult to remove. Throw this waste away in the regular trash instead and your toilet drains will be in far better shape.
Diapers are filled with waste that a toilet would normally handle in a properly potty-trained person, so naturally they should be able to handle a waste-filled diaper, right? Not exactly. Diapers are engineered with materials that are designed to expand when wet. This allows them to absorb more and leak less for a more sanitary product. However, this also means they expand rapidly when completely submerged in water and can quickly block up a toilet drain line.
As with other types of waste on this list, throw diapers away in the regular trash rather than flushing them away down the toilet. The toilet may seem like the best place to get rid of diapers simply because of the stench, but the clog they create isn’t something that you want to have to worry about.
4. Hygiene Products
Much the same way you wouldn’t flush a diaper down the drain, hygiene products aren’t something you should put down your toilet either. Cotton balls, facial scrubbing pads, cotton swabs, and makeup remover wipes should all be tossed in the regular trash. Flushable hygiene wipes may sound like they’re toilet-safe, but the truth is they’re still not as safe as regular toilet paper might be. Instead, just toss them in the trash as normal.
Two common hygiene products thrown down the toilet in particular are extremely bad for your plumbing: tampons and condoms. Tampons are also designed to expand when wet in order to prevent leaks, and that means they can quickly become a problem in your drain line. Condoms are usually either rubber or latex and are designed to hold their integrity. This makes them particularly easy for any sort of building-up clog in your drain line to snag it as it goes down the line and create a blockage.
5. Too Much Toilet Paper
Too much toilet paper can even be a problem for your drain line. Too much toilet paper can create a giant blob that seals off your drain line and prevents flushing from happening as normal. This is particularly common if you already have part of a clog built up in your line.
The best way to handle this problem is to flush once after using a small amount of toilet paper and then flush again later after using the remainder of what you need. We also encourage you to look into a bidet system. Bidets use the natural power of water to clean your backside, either strongly limiting or even eliminating the need for a toilet roll altogether.
Got a backed-up toilet that needs to be fixed? Want to learn more about installing a bidet system in your home? Call Always Plumbing Heating and Air at (949) 523-1992 today!