What Not to Flush

Think twice before you flush.  People flush the strangest things through their toilet - diapers, baseballs, doll heads - hoping it will become someone else’s problem.  However, anything other than human waste and toilet paper can end up clogging the network of pipes and pumps that make up the sewer system.  And those blocked pipes eventually can hit you in the wallet, leading to personal expenses for plumbing repairs or higher sewer rates from the City to cover costs for excess maintenance.  Worse yet is the potential for sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) into streets and canals.

Never flush:
  • Rags
  • Toys
  • Fats, oil or grease
  • Disposable diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • "Flushable" hygiene wipes
  • Swiffer-type cleaning products
  • Pieces of garbage
  • "Flushable" cat litter
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Sponges, plastic, glass
  • Chemicals, dye, paints

Rags and other cloths flushed down toilets can clog pipes and pumping stations.  This type of debris that makes it to a station or the treatment plant has to be removed and taken to a landfill. If that debris was put directly in the garbage instead of the toilet, it would get to the landfill more quickly and cost a lot less, experts say.  Swiffer sweepers, rags, baby wipes and diapers (including adult diapers) don’t biodegrade, and can jam the pumps and shut down the lift stations that funnel wastewater to sewer treatment plants. That’s when crews get sent in to remove mounds of rags - often by hand - to keep sewage from backing up.  In some cases, this debris can do enough damage that expensive motors need to be replaced.