Flushing things down the toilet may seem like a convenient way of disposing of things; in fact, that’s what a toilet is made for. Except, there’s a small caveat there: toilets can only dispose of some things. If you start expanding your toilet’s use, you may end up with plumbing issues ranging from a clogged drain to a contaminated water supply. Make sure you don’t flush the following things down the toilet—unless you want a headache (for some reason).
You can safely flush toilet paper down the toilet because it isn’t particularly absorbent; toilet paper is water-soluble. As a result, the toilet paper, and its clogging potential, quickly disintegrates in the water. Paper towels, in contrast, are designed to absorb water. Since they’re resistant to dissolving, paper towels can quickly accumulate in your pipes and clog them.
Chewing Gum and Food
Gum and food are even more insoluble than paper towels; in fact, they’ll never dissolve in water. Worse still, gum can stick to any part of your pipes, so you can’t bank on a random flush draining it away. If you’re particularly fond of flushing food, your pipes will clog soon. Instead of paying your bathroom a visit, throw your leftovers and gum in the trash (wrap your gum up in paper, folks).
Unlike food and paper towels, grease is a liquid, so it’s reasonable to assume that you can flush it down the drain, right? Wrong. Grease is liquid at its current temperature, but it can turn into a solid, waxy substance as it cools down. If grease comes into contact with calcium in the sewers, which is not uncommon, this process speeds up. Like gum, this substance can stick to parts of your plumbing, but unlike gum, grease is commonplace in homes. Instead of dumping it in the toilet or drain, let the grease cool down and throw it in the trash.
Shows like House M.D. have popularized the toilet as a convenient way to dispose of medicine. Unfortunately, House is a doctor, not a plumbing expert. If drugs enter the water supply, they can contaminate it and kill organisms in the water. As the drugs get further down the water, the scale of damage and contamination increases.