What You Can and Cannot Flush

Friday, 01 October 2021 11:44
What You Can and Cannot Flush

What a blessing indoor plumbing is. Aren’t you grateful you live in a time where indoor plumbing exists, and the mass majority of our homes use toilets instead of outhouses in our backyard? With this gift of indoor plumbing, we want to try our best to take care of it.

If we don’t take care of it, we could be calling our trusted local plumbers. Of course, your trustworthy and professional plumbing team at Action Service Company, LLC will always be there to help. However, the best way to take care of your indoor plumbing is to prevent bad things from happening to it. 


Part of taking care of your indoor plumbing system is knowing what to flush down your toilet, and most importantly, what not to flush down your toilet. This could be the difference between a healthy drainage and sewage system and making a phone call. And in a previous article we wrote, we recognized the cost of professional drain cleaning could get pricey when that money can be used elsewhere.

what can I flush

What You Can Flush

You can flush toilet paper. That is it. 

There is nothing else you can flush down the toilet other than toilet paper. We cannot stress this enough. That may not be very encouraging to those that are down to their last roll; however, flushing alternatives down the toilet will clog your plumbing and could cause problems in sewage lines throughout the area.  

Thankfully, the toilet in your home is designed to handle the items that need to be flushed in order to keep your system running and your bathroom from smelling funky.

Here are the 3 P’s to what you can flush down your toilet.

  • Pee. The classic “number one.” This is liquid and the toilet is designed to flush this with no problem.
  • Poop. And what’s a number one without a number two? We are grateful this can be flushed down the toilet to keep our hands clean and our bathrooms fresh.
  • Paper. While your indoor plumbing system can’t take all sorts of paper, it is designed to handle toilet paper. Toilet paper goes down the drain correctly, and therefore, it is perfect for using to clean yourself up.

What You Can't Flush

This is probably pretty clear at this point, but you should not flush anything but toilet paper. The trouble is, there are numerous products that claim to be flushable. 

“Flushable” hygiene products are one of the primary offenders of clogged plumbing pipes. A BuzzFeed News article quotes the Twitter account of one public works department, saying:

"We understand due to high demand toilet paper might not be available," the Needham Department of Public Works posted on its Twitter account. "Please do not flush wipes, even if they say they are flushable, they are not." 

To reiterate, here are some toilet paper alternatives that cannot be flushed down the toilet:

  • “Flushable” wipes. Despite the enticing label on the package that insists they pass the test, never send these supposedly flushable wipes down the drain. These wipes do not break down easily and can get clogged in your drain. Rather than flushing what should be called “un-flushable wipes” down the drain, dispose of them in the trash can.
  • Paper towels. Remember when people could send paper down the toilet as one of the three P’s? This does not include paper towels. Paper towels are strong enough to absorb water, and they are too strong to go down the drain.
  • Cotton products. You probably already know you shouldn’t put cotton swabs in your ears, but did you know you also shouldn’t flush cotton swabs down your toilet, either. No matter how small they may seem compared to the second P, they do not break down in water and will get stuck in your drain pipes, causing major issues.
  • Feminine products. Feminine products are designed to absorb water and even expand when they are wet. Flushing these down the toilet is a serious no-no, so it is important to only dispose of them in the trash. They are almost certainly bound to clog your toilet, which will likely lead to a significant repair project.
  • Latex. Just like feminine products, latex should not be flushed either. Latex takes entirely too long to break down and will almost certainly clog your toilet, drain, and even sewage system. 
  • Plastic products. Anything made of plastic should never be flushed down your toilet. Plastic products do not dissolve in the water and can get caught. They will clog your toilets, drains, and sewage system.
  • Hair. Hair is another item that should not be flushed down the toilet. While you may not notice after you send clumps of hair down the first or second flush, hair likes to stick to the inside of the pipes and, over time, can create plumbing issues. This is why shower drains usually have drain covers to prevent hair from getting down in the system.
  • Gum. Have you ever disposed of your gum where you shouldn’t? Whether that be the street, underneath a desk, or even the toilet? While the toilet seems the better option of the three, it isn’t kind to your plumbing system. Gum is sticky, and it’s not hard to picture the gum sticking to the pipes and leading to major problems.

Make sure you avoid flushing the unflushable; otherwise, you may find yourself with bigger issues than a lack of toilet paper. Commit this list to memory to help prevent issues with your toilets, drainage pipes, and sewage system. 

But of course, some plumbing needs are out of your control. Furthermore, it is always possible your children or house guests will not get the memo about what can and cannot be flushed.

what to do when you run out

What to Do When You Run Out of Toilet Paper

One solution to a lack of toilet paper is to invest in a bidet; however, those cleaning devices may be difficult to find as well. Your best bet is to utilize a toilet paper alternative and dispose of it in a trash can with a closable lid beside the toilet. 

In this case, you can use paper products that should not be flushed and toss them out with your refuse. You might also check with neighbors and family members to “borrow” extra rolls. We’re all in this together. 

flushed improperly

What to Do If You Have Flushed Improperly

If you or a member of your household have flushed a non-flushable product down the toilet, even if it was an accident, and you have any signs of clogged pipes, contact us. 

Do not expect the problem to go away with time. If there is something that has not made it through the pipes, it can become something of a catch-all for other materials as well. 

We know your plumbing systems are vital, especially during this time of social distancing. We are spending a lot of time at home and putting pressure on our plumbing to keep up with our new reality. 

At Action Services, we are taking steps to ensure we can continue to serve Statesville and Iredell residents safely. Do not let minor plumbing problems become major issues. Contact Action Services today