No-one enjoys having to deal with a blocked toilet, but it's an all-too-common occurrence in Australian households. The problem is that many people are confused about which items can be safely flushed down the toilet and which are likely to cause a blockage. Here are some of the top products that many of us think of as flushable, but that could wreak havoc on your plumbing system.
1. "Flushable" Wipes
Many wipes for makeup removal, baby care and household cleaning are marketed as "flushable", but in fact they can cause blockages. Australian water service providers estimate that they spend $15 million per year clearing blockages caused by wet wipes. Even if the packaging claims that a wipe breaks down "like toilet paper" when flushed, don't believe it. When CHOICE tested 11 brands of "flushable" wipes, all the wipes were still intact long after toilet paper had disintegrated.
2. Tampons and Sanitary Pads
Disposing of tampons and pads can be embarrassing for girls and women, leading many ladies to flush their sanitary products away. However, it's even more embarrassing when a plumber pulls a tampon out of a blocked pipe. Place a bin next to your toilet so that women in your family and female visitors have a better option than flushing their products away.
Using condoms is responsible behaviour. Flushing them is not. Unlike toilet paper, which disintegrates quickly in water, condoms are designed to retain their structure. Used condoms that are flushed can become filled with air or water, causing them to expand and create a very disgusting blockage.
When you pull a big wad of hair out of the shower drain, do you throw it in the toilet? Hair can clump together and block your toilet's waste pipe. When you clear out your shower drain or pull the loose hair out of your hairbrush, put it in the bin, not the toilet.
5. Dental Floss
Like hair, dental floss can collect into tangles that block pipes and lead to expensive plumbing bills. While one piece of floss may not cause any harm, flushing your floss every day can create a clog when it catches in the pipe and wraps itself around other items. Worst of all, dental floss is not biodegradable, so there's no chance of it breaking down in your plumbing system. While it's great to care for your teeth, you need to dispose of your floss in the bin, not the toilet.