skip to Main Content
Toilet Flapper On A Residential Toilet

To Flush or Not to Flush These Common Household Items

Modern septic systems are ecological marvels, waste disposal masterpieces designed to accompany a home wherever it’s built. Impressive though they are, septic systems can’t handle everything. User error can sabotage a healthy system causing loss of function and costly damage.

Your home’s septic system can handle your organic waste with ease, but flushing certain items – even just once – can have you shelling out the big bucks for repairs.

Economy Septic reminds you to think before you flush any of these common household items.

Wipes and Paper Towels

Toilet paper can’t do it all. Wet wipes, baby wipes, and paper towels have their uses, but what separates them from TP also excludes them from that same method of disposal.

Paper towels are made of more durable and absorbent materials and can easily cause a clog. Wipes on the other hand, even if advertised as “flushable” or “toilet safe,” may not dissolve properly over time, causing backups and even ground water contamination. 

Feminine Hygiene Products/Contraceptives

Rumors and misconceptions have swirled (no pun intended) around the flushing of feminine hygiene products and contraceptives. The final answer to the debate is this: both items belong in the trash, not the toilet.

Neither applicators nor their absorbent counterparts should be flushed. Similarly, latex contraceptive products may take anywhere from 6 months to 4 years to decompose. Either item is as good as a timebomb in your septic system.


It’s understandable that we would want diapers out of sight and out of smelling distance as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, wishing it so cannot make it so.

Diapers, like feminine hygiene products and paper towels, are designed to be absorbent. This causes the item to swell when submerged. The larger the item initially, the bigger the potential blockage. 


Nearly everyone has a medicine cabinet full of expired pill bottles and decade-old over the counter drugs. Flushing old medication seems like a natural response, right?

Sadly, in addition to a clogging hazard, certain medications may harm the helpful bacteria included in your septic tank – the same thankless organisms that encourage decomposition of organic waste. Antibiotics, in keeping with their name, kill this helpful bacteria, while antidepressants and painkillers upset the balance and harm your system’s efficiency.

Contamination risks abound as well, so don’t take any risks.

Cat Litter

Like diapers, properly disposing of cat litter can be an odious task. But as you may have noticed when shoveling the box, wet litter clumps together so tightly at times that genuine force is required to separate it.

Submerged in a septic system or pipe, litter might as well be quick-setting concrete. You can let your imagination guide you on from there.

Household Chemicals

Difficult though it may be to imagine a homeowner pouring gasoline, pesticides, antifreeze, or paint thinner into their toilet, the situation does arise from time to time.

These chemicals are noxious, dangerous, and lethal to the bacteria in your septic tank. Contamination risks for the local water table are high with these products, and your own wallet will suffer the consequences.

Think Before You Flush

Well, what can you flush? It seems like just about everything requires a considerate method of disposal elsewhere than the toilet. In fact, that’s a good general rule of thumb. 

Human waste and toilet paper belong in the toilet. Flush anything else and you might as well throw a $20 bill in while you’re at it.

To learn more about septic system care and best everyday practices, call Economy Septic today!

Not everyone can be a septic system expert. With Economy Septic on your side, you don’t have to be. At Economy Septic Tank Service, we know septic systems inside and out. We’re happy to help you manage your system, repair or pump your system, or field any questions about what should or shouldn’t be flushed. To learn more, call us at (256) 435-1086 today!