Personal Care

Small Enough to Flush, Strong Enough to clog your Pipes.

Personal Care Products Don't Flush It, Trash it.

While it's possible to flush things like dental floss, hair, cotton swabs, cotton balls, and condoms down the toilet, it is a bad idea. These items do not break down in water, and they can tangle with other items and block your sewer line. Just because something is used or dirty doesn't mean it should go down the toilet. Personal care items belong in the trash can.

Toilets are not designed to handle materials other than toilet paper and human waste. Household items, such as wipes, cleaning cloths, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, and personal care products may lead to a clog in the toilet that a plunger might not be able to fix. Plumbing problems are often caused by flushing materials that are not flushable. Many household products do not break down like toilet paper. Toilet paper is designed to start breaking apart as soon as it contacts water, making it less of an obstruction to toilets and the pipes below.

I've never clogged a toilet with dental floss, why is it so bad to flush?

While flushing personal care items such as dental floss may not clog your toilet directly, as it moves through the wastewater system it tangles and combines with other items that were improperly flushed. They clump up and build like a snowball of trash moving through the pipes that can either completely clog a sewer main or damage the pumps that keep the wastewater moving (and out of your house).

Even if these items make it all the way to the water treatment facility, they must be removed at some point and will end up in a dumpster headed to the landfill. This process is costly and is factored into your water bill. So by placing these items in a trash can rather than in the toilet, you save lots of effort, protect your pipes, our infrastructure, and save money.

Is hair OK to go down the drain or flush?

Pretty much everyone has experienced a clogged sink, shower, or tub where hair is the primary culprit. Hair should not go down any of your drains. Sinks and showers have grates on them to catch hair, but toilets don't. Just because it can go down the toilet, doesn't mean it is a good idea. Do not clean your hair brush and flush the ball of hair, this is a quick way to potentially clog your own pipes. Place hair in the trash.

Hair in the larger sewer system also causes problems because it doesn't break down and gets tangled with all the rest of the items that shouldn't be down there, like wipes and tampons. These items tangle together and become a single, large mass that can clog main sewer lines or damage pumps at the wastewater facilities.

Can I flush facial tissue?

Facial tissue should not be flushed down the toilet. Put all used facial tissue in the trash.

While facial tissue may seem like it would break down faster than many of the other no-flush items listed on this site, they were not designed to be flushed. Many facial tissues are designed to be strong when wet so they don't rip when you blow your nose, some also contain lotion and other chemicals in them. Remember, anything that goes down the drain needs to be cleaned out at the water treatment plant because that water will eventually go back into our lakes and rivers. The wastewater system was designed to remove human waste and toilet paper.

Here is a great video demonstrating how each common household item either does or doesn't break down when flushed. (1:50 for facial tissue, then floss and cotton swaps)

How can you prevent sewer back ups?

Easy steps to Defend Your Drains

By practicing these three simple actions, you can prevent grease clogs and help protect our water quality.

1. Keep Hair out of Your Drains.

You can get fine mesh covers for your sink or shower drains that allow water to flow through but catch any hair and prevent it from going down the drain.

When cleaning your hairbrush or your sink or shower drain, place the wads of hair in the trash. Clean your drains frequently to prevent clumps of hair from slowing your drain.

2. Personal Care Items Go in the Trash

  • Hair Balls
  • Facial Tissue
  • Dental Floss
  • Cotton Balls
  • Cotton Swabs ("Q-Tips™")
  • Cleaning Wipes
  • Women's Hygiene Products
  • Bandages ("Band-Aids™")
  • Anything not toilet paper

Trash 'em!

3. When in Doubt, Trash it

The toilet should only be used for three things; Pee, Poop, and toilet Paper. If you are unsure if you should flush something, the answer is probably NO. Place the item in question in the trash.

Facial tissues and wipes - even "flushable" wipes - belong in the trash and should not be flushed down your toilet.

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