Can You Flush That? What Your Plumber Wants You To Know | Bloomington, IL


Disposable wipes marketers are selling convenience. It is easy to believe that your local sewer system or septic tank will swallow everything you put in it. It’s as easy as tossing it in and it disappears, right? It is out of sight and out of mind once you’ve flushed the toilet and you see it vanish. Unless you need a plumber to sort out a clog, that is.

Many things that go on behind the scenes at waste treatment facilities in Bloomington, IL, to make sure your waste products are properly disposed of. The main problem with ‘flushable wipes’ is the ingredient that prevents wipes from dissolving as toilet paper does is actually plastic fiber which is quite difficult to break down.

The misnomer of ‘flushable wipes’, particularly during the COVID-19 Pandemic, has caused and worsened problems such as clogs and line breaks, overflows and treatment plant issues in Illinois and the United States. While they are marketed as septic-safe, your plumber knows they can be anything but! These wipes attract fats, oils, solids and other substances that can be flushed down the drain, which can cause further issues.

‘Flushable’ wipes do eventually break down, but not quickly enough to avoid any damage to your local wastewater treatment plant or septic system. Your local treatment facility’s grinders and filters can become clogged and stop working if lots of flushable wipes try to pass through. Severe blockages in the main sewer lines caused by ‘flushable’ items can cause backups in your very own home and result in an emergency plumber callout when you least expect it.

While a septic system contains enzymes to break down waste, they are unable to break down the polymers found in wipes. Simply put, every time you flush a wipe, it adds plastic to the environment. Plastic takes a while to break down.

It’s more than just ‘flushable’ wipes that can affect your home plumbing in Bloomington, IL. To keep your toilet running smoothly, there are some items that you shouldn’t flush down the drain. Here are several things you should not flush down your toilet to keep your pipes clear.

1. Baby Wipes

Even if the baby wipes are labeled as flushable, your friendly plumbing company Covenant Plumbing thinks it’s best to avoid flushing these when possible. Rather, place them in the trash. To avoid the used baby wipes attracting flies or creating unpleasant odors, store them in their own scented trash bag.


Diapers are designed to absorb water, just like menstrual products. Your system can suffer from costly damage if diapers absorb so much water that they cause a blockage in your home’s plumbing. Ideally, all diapers should be disposed of in the trash, to avoid a plumber callout.

3. Q-Tips, Cotton Pads and Other Cotton Products

It is not safe to flush cotton balls, cotton pads, or Q-Tips. They don’t break down like toilet paper, and they can clump together in your pipes, causing problems later.

4. Menstrual Products

You might be shocked to learn that menstrual products such as tampons and pads (and other feminine products) should not be flushed down the toilet. Not only can it be difficult to flush them in the first instance, but they can also quite easily get caught up inside the exit pipe. They can remain there unknowingly until the whole pipe blocks and you need a professional plumber to fish out the blockage.

5. Dental Floss

Despite its small size, dental floss can cause issues if flushed. Flushing floss can create a net that traps and holds other debris. It can also wrap around components of a septic system, and burn out motors causing complex issues that require a plumber.

6. Paper Towels and Tissues

Although you might think that paper towels or tissues aren’t much different from toilet paper, they aren’t designed to be as effective at breaking down. We often surprise people by telling them that tissues and paper towels aren’t as flushable as toilet paper.

7. Cat Litter

Although some brands claim that their cat litter is flushable, many toilets do not use enough water to effectively move cat litter through your pipes. At the very least, flushing cat litter adds more chemicals to the water, making it harder to filter. Flushing dehydrated cat waste from the litter box is also not recommended.

8. Hair

Hair, similar to dental floss, can form a net that catches other debris when it is flushed down the toilet. Plus, hair is not able to dissolve in water, so there’s a greater chance of it clogging your system. In severe cases, you’ll need a plumber to use a drain snake or hydro-jet to clear a build-up of hair.

9. Gum

Flushing gum down the drain is a bad idea. It’s sticky, insoluble, and can cause serious damage. This sticky nature increases the risk of gum clogging your pipes.

10. Cooking Grease

You shouldn’t flush grease down the toilet, just as you wouldn’t pour cooking grease down the sink. Grease congeals when it cools and becomes thicker, which can lead to clogging of your pipes.

11. Fish

You’ve likely heard that people flush their fish. However, it’s not a good idea. Consider a proper burial, taking it to the vet for safe disposal, or placing it in the trash instead.

12. Food

This may surprise you, as human waste is essentially just digested food. However, flushing food that hasn’t been eaten can cause blockages that may require you to call a professional plumber. Food is biodegradable, and will eventually break down. However, it can cause clogs in the meantime.

So, that’s it! That was fifteen items your local plumbing company in Bloomington, IL, wants you to avoid flushing down the toilet. If you find yourself in need of a plumber to help clear a toilet clog, call Covenant Plumbing right away!

Photo By PBXStudio at Shutterstock
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