What NOT to Flush or Put down Your Garbage Disposal

Added by Heather on May 04 1:41PM

I recently learned a lesson (the hard and costly way) about what you should not flush down your toilet or put in your garbage disposal, especially if you live in a high-rise condominium. Unfortunately, even items that say “flushable” on their packaging can cost you if you actually do flush them down the toilet.

We live in a high-rise condominium in downtown San Diego. We recently returned home to find that a clogged pipe had caused water to back-up and actually come up our drain and onto our hardwood floor. This required plumbers to clear the clog; a flood restoration team to clean up the unsanitary water, cut into our walls and use dehumidifiers and industrial fans to attempt to dry out our walls and wood floors; a flooring company to rip out our wood floors, replace all of the sound (kinetics) underlayment, and install new wood floors (because the wood warped from the water and fans and dehumidifiers could not dry out the existing underlayment); and a contractor to repair the drywall, texture and paint our walls. As you can imagine, it was quite a mess and very expensive!

From now on we are going to be even more cautious about what we flush and what we put in the garbage disposal. Basically, the only things that should be flushed are human waste and toilet paper – nothing else! About 75% of clogs are caused by flushing disposable items. Here is a list of commonly flushed items that should NOT be flushed:

• disposable diapers

• feminine products (tampons and applicators, mini or maxi pads)

• dental floss

• cotton balls and swabs

• unused medications (return to local pharmacy for disposal)

• condoms

• cleaning wipes of any kind (including the toilet bowl wand brush that says they are flushable)

• facial tissue (Kleenex)

• bandages and bandage wrappings

• disposable napkins, Handy Wipes, baby wipes, hygiene wipes, etc. (even if they say that they are flushable)

• Razors and blades

• Syringes and needles

Some of these items are listed because they are known to cause clogs and plumbing problems, others are on the list because they are harmful to our water supply.

In addition to things that should not be flushed, there is also a list of things that should not go down the garbage disposal and kitchen sink. One plumbing site states: “it is called a garbage disposal, not an in-sink trash can.” Do NOT put these in the garbage disposal:

• Rice and Pasta (bloat with water and clog)

• Animal bones  (cannot be fully ground up by disposal)

• Grease (it will eventually solidify, line the inside of your pipes, and clog)

• Egg shells (they do not sharpen your disposal’s blades, just cause clogs)

• Any kind of stringy or tough-peeled vegetable (including asparagus, lettuce, celery and potato peels)

• Peels or skins of any kind (including banana peel, potato skin, avocado skin, etc.)

• Fruit pits

The old adage of “less is more” definitely applies to the garbage disposal. Only small amounts of table scraps should go into the disposal – the best idea is to scrape all remaining table scraps into the trash can before rinsing the plate.

Protect yourself and your neighbors (remember, in condominiums your clog can quickly become your neighbors’ problem as well – or their clog can become your’s) avoid a costly clog by being careful what you flush and what you put down the kitchen sink (and share this information with your neighbors)!

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