There’s a viral video posted by American Standard that makes us cringe. Yes, flushing golf balls, marshmallows, and flip phones down the toilet probably makes for great PR (and has already spawned lots of imitators on YouTube). But it’s awful for your plumbing. Thankfully, our customers are more sensible than that. But even they get tripped up occasionally — often by things that were supposed to be flushable. So what can you actually put down the toilet safely, without having to call Ace Plumbing for toilet repairs? Let’s run down some common items.
Baby Wipes and Personal Wipes
You’d think these are flushable. It says so right on the package. But baby wipes and other personal wipes don’t degrade quickly enough in water to be truly flushable. Unlike toilet paper, these wipes can remain intact for a very long time. What’s worse, they tend to aggregate, forming masses in the pipes that can lead to severe backups.
Another trend we’re noticing in recent years is flushable cleaning products. Some of these are wipes similar to baby wipes, but treated with cleaners and solvents. Others are brushes meant for bathroom and toilet cleaning that — so the commercials tell us — can simply be flushed when you’re done. The same rule applies here as with baby wipes: yes, some things will go down the toilet without it backing up immediately. That may technically make them “flushable,” but doesn’t really make them any safer. Use the trash instead.
Kitty litter shouldn’t be flushed. Clay litters clump because contact with moisture sets off a reaction not unlike concrete setting. If you’re flushing clay litter, therefore, you’re setting yourself up for expensive repairs.
The last few years have seen a number of alternative litters, made of materials like corn, wheat, walnut hulls, and recycled newspaper. Some of these are advertised as flushable because they don’t use clay. Pro tip: don’t flush those either. As the SF Gate reminds us, cat waste carries toxoplasmosis, an especially hardy bacterium that can’t be eliminated by standard wastewater treatment. The bacterium gets into marine life, endangering anything and anyone that eats it later.
Drugs and Medication
Those antibiotics expired in 2012. You never took the Percocet that was prescribed when you got your wisdom teeth removed. The cops came knocking. No matter. Pills don’t go down the toilet. Clogs because of pills are rare, but they’ll dissolve eventually, and when they do, they get into the water supply. If you’re trying to dispose of pills safely, click the link for tips from the FDA (unlike us they suggest flushing, but only under certain circumstances when leaving medications in the trash could cause harm to others).
This is just the tip of the… ahem… iceberg. There are many other things we’ve had to remove from customers’ plumbing. Cigarette butts, feminine hygiene products, condoms, cotton balls, dental floss, hair, Q-Tips, Band Aids, food, doll parts, action figures, and the occasional toy boat (our kids were toddlers once, too — we understand). Each job had two things in common: the homeowners or tenants were absolutely mortified, and their problems were caused by things that should never have gone down the toilet.
Accidentally flushed your iPhone? Your daughter decided to give her Bratz a bath? Call Ace Plumbing for emergency plumbing service today.