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15 Things You Should Never Flush Down the Toilet

Don't think you can flush these things and your toilet will continue to flush properly

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LUIS PADILLA-Fotografia/Shutterstock

Goldfish

If you think you’re releasing your goldfish back to the wild when you flush it down the toilet, think again. You’re most likely killing it within a couple of minutes because of the way city water is treated.

Releasing a goldfish into a pond or a lake isn’t any better. It’s actually a terrible thing for ecosystems. Goldfish in Minnesota are threatening marsh habitats and have grown to the size of dinner plates.

Did you know you should also flush your water heater? Yep, once a year is recommended.

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bleach cleanerCassiohabib/Shutterstock

Bleach

Bleach can react with other substances in your pipes and create a dangerous situation. The reaction can create fumes and clog pipes. Ammonia and bleach should never be mixed.

Extend the life of your toilet by deep cleaning it this way.

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Family Handyman

Cooking Grease

Most people know it’s a bad idea to pour grease down your kitchen sink. It’s equally important not to do it in the toilet. Warm grease runs down your drain until it cools in the pipe, where it congeals to start forming a clog. Then other stuff gets stuck in it, and before you know it you’ve got a major clog.

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Tissues and Paper Towels

Tissues and Paper Towels

While they may seem a little like toilet paper, they are not. The materials used to make tissues, paper towels and similar products do not dissolve easily and are far more likely to clog your toilet, as well as cause problems for your septic tank or at your water treatment facility.

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Cat Litter

Cat Litter

Even if your cat litter says that it is 'flushable,' don't flush it. All cat litter is bad for your toilet. It lingers in your pipes, refuses to dissolve easily and interacts poorly with your sewer system. If the temptation to use the toilet is too much for a family member in charge of cleaning litter, then put a box of disposable plastic bags or similar poop-scooping solutions by the litter box so that it's less of an issue.

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Disposable Diapers

Disposable Diapers

Yes, disposable diapers tend to get covered in waste. Unfortunately, toilets were not made for any kind of disposable diaper: Trying to flush these diapers is an incredibly common cause of serious pipe clogs that need professional attention. Avoid this problem, and provide another option for dealing with diapers.

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Tampons

Tampons

While the toilet is frequently a handy option to get rid of tampons and other feminine hygiene products, it's also a bad idea. Tampons can easily create clogs deep in pipes and should never be flushed.

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Condoms

Condoms

Condoms are another case where convenience shouldn't trump toilet care. Throw them in the trash instead of flushing: Both condom materials (typically latex) and associated lubricants are bad for your plumbing.

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Anything Made of Cotton

Anything Made of Cotton

This includes cotton swabs, cotton balls, Q-tips, and any other associated product. Cotton is excellent at absorbing water, but it doesn't break down easily. The combination is a dire one for your plumbing. We'll show you how to unclog anything.

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Any Type of Plastic

Any Type of Plastic

It doesn't matter if it's packaging plastic or a Band-Aid, you can't flush plastics down a toilet. Plastic doesn't dissolve and can cause many problems in your pipes—if they get that far after a toilet flush.

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Dental Floss

Dental Floss

Yes, even small items like dental floss can cause trouble for your toilet. It's stringy, doesn't dissolve and can bundle around other objects to form larger clogs. Plus: Brilliant ways to repurpose an old toothbrush.

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Food

Food

Any type of food is off limits, no matter how soft it may be. The same is true of any leftover pieces, shells, bones or grounds that you want to get rid of. These belong in neither your pipes nor your garbage disposal. Throw them in the trash or compost. Also, never put these other 15 items down the garbage disposal.

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Gum

Gum

Water does nothing to get rid of gum, so it tends to stick around – literally. You don't want it in your pipes!

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Hair

Hair

If you're fishing hairballs from your sink or tub, don't dump them in the toilet: That's just moving the clog from one part of your plumbing to another. Throw it away instead. Learn how to unclog a shower drain here.

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Pills

Pills

TV makes flushing pills look dramatic and effective, but it's a horrible idea. If you have pills past expiration or just don't want them in your house, find a local medicine take-back program or grind them up and throw them away on trash day. Otherwise, those potent chemicals will get into sewer systems and even groundwater, where they can do untold damage.