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What to Flush

Toilets are not garbage cans.

While this may seem like a straightforward statement, many people believe that their toilets and sewage systems can handle much more waste than what is actually possible. Roll of toilet paper sitting on tank In reality, there are only TWO things you can flush down a toilet: human waste and toilet paper. That’s it.

The wastewater takes one of two journeys after it leaves your home. It either heads through pipes on its way to your local sewer, or it ends up in a septic tank close to your home.

Before the wastewater arrives at your local treatment facility, it travels through a system of screens and metal rods in an attempt to trap rocks, sand and other "unflushables." No system is perfect, and in fact, only 27 percent of the global population use private sanitation systems connected to sewers.

So, what does this mean for you? It means that it is extremely important to remember what can, and cannot, be flushed down our toilets. Bad habits can be broken, and we all just need to be mindful of the things we’re sending down our pipes. Though it may seem obvious, here are some of the most commonly used "unflushables":

  • Paper towels
  • Baby Wipes
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Contact Lenses
  • Human Hair
  • Chewing Gum

Adopting new behaviors, and reminding children to practice good habits when they flush, will reduce the amount of toxic and harmful material in our water.