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hand with crumbled toilet paper and toilet

Believe it or not, in the wake of COVID-19 and the countrywide toilet paper shortage, people are resorting to using some creative items as TP. In Redding, California, people were shredding t-shirts and to use as make-shift toilet paper. However, this solution quickly caused major plumbing issues—it wiped out an entire sewer line! In light of these news stories and the fear that there won’t be enough toilet paper to go around, our Torrance plumbers at Carter Services decided it would be a good idea to review what can and cannot be safely flushed down the toilet.

What Cannot Be Flushed Down the Toilet & Why

It’s easy to think that you can flush anything that will fit down the pipe and be out of sight and out of mind. However, this is not the case. Some of the substances can build up and cause dangerous clogs, backup, and damage to municipal sewer lines, water treatment centers, or septic tanks.

As plumbers, we’ve pulled some crazy things from customer’s drains, and we’re hoping that this blog will help educate our customers and keep sewer and drain lines safe.

To avoid significant plumbing problems, we highly recommend that you do not flush the following items:

Paper Towels & Tissues

Although they might seem absorbent and small enough to fit safely down the drain, paper towels and tissues are not dissolvable and therefore should be disposed of in a trash can and not the toilet.

Cigarette Butts

Not only does each flush waste gallons of water, but cigarette butts contain harmful contaminants that can end up in the groundwater supply. Don’t pollute others’ water; instead, just dispose of your cigarette butts in the trash can.

Feminine Products

Because tampons and feminine napkins are absorbent and expand, they can cause significant clogs within drain pipes and sewer lines.

Baby Wipes/Wet Wipes

Now, especially due to the toilet paper shortage, people are resorting to using wet wipes or baby wipes when they use the restroom. Although they might advertise that they are flushable on the packaging, this is, unfortunately, not the case. Soon, all baby wipes and wet wipes will have to advertise that you should not flush them. This is because they easily cause clogs and backup within sewage lines.

So, What Can Be Flushed Down the Toilet?

We know that we’ve eliminated a lot, but that brings us to our main point. The only things that can be safely flushed down the toilet are human waste and toilet paper. This isn’t to say that toilet paper is entirely safe either. Although three-ply is a great luxury, too much of it can lead to clogs. Therefore, it’s important to be conservative with your toilet paper use. Don’t try to stuff as much as you can in the toilet before you flush either; although they might use more water, sometimes multiple flushes are cheaper than calling a plumber out for expensive and extensive repairs.

In the unfortunate circumstance you still have a backup or a clogged drain, give us a call at (310) 872-1898. Or you can contact Carter Services online to schedule service. We’re available 24/7 for emergency services.