(BPT) – July 1 is Flush Smart Day, a nationwide initiative to educate and encourage everyone to practice smart flushing habits all year long. All too often, products that weren’t designed to be flushed down the toilet end up in pipes and sewer systems, causing damage to a home’s sewer system and beyond.
According to the Association of Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA), more than 90% of wipes sold are not designed to be flushed. That’s because non-flushable wipes are made from long synthetic fibers, making them durable for their intended purpose. However, these durable fibers also make these items a danger to your plumbing.
This Flush Smart Day, the Responsible Flushing Alliance wants to help you learn how to flush smart today and beyond. Here are some simple tips to help avoid costly plumbing issues at home and protect the environment by reducing sewer blockages.
1. Know what you can’t flush
Your toilet is not a trashcan. Just because something is small enough to pass through the toilet pipe doesn’t mean it should be flushed. Non-flushable items can cause a lot of damage to homes, schools, businesses, sewers, wastewater treatment facilities, and the environment when flushed. Here’s a list of some commonly flushed items that should never be flushed:
- Baby wipes
- Period products
- Hard surface or cleaning wipes
- Makeup removing wipes
- Cotton balls, pads or swabs
- Sheet masks
- Dental floss, teeth whitening strips, contact lenses
- Hair or hair weaves
- Paper towels or rags
- Trash, cat litter
- Medicine, syringes
2. Educate family and houseguests
If you don’t know what you can’t flush, chances are your household and guests won’t either. Help them (and yourself) out by posting a sign on or near the toilet with a list of non-flushable items as a reminder.
Make sure there’s a small trash can next to the toilet to make it easy to dispose of non-flushable items. You can also keep disposable bags near the trashcan to wrap up diapers, baby wipes, and period products.
3. Properly dispose of FOGs
Fats, oils and greases (FOGs) can cause just as much damage as solid non-flushable items. Don’t flush FOGs down the toilet or pour them down the sink. Otherwise, you may be helping create a fatberg. When FOGs and non-flushable items collect in pipes, they can create a large, rock-like mass of waste matter in the sewer system. These fatbergs can grow and eventually destroy pipes and homes if left unchecked. You can find instructions on how to make your own FOG can at FlushSmart.org.
4. Look for the “Do Not Flush” symbol
Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine if an item, like wipes, can be flushed. You can double-check if an item is not flushable by looking for the “Do Not Flush” symbol on the packaging. If you see the symbol on the wipes packaging, do not flush the wipes down the toilet!
5. When in doubt, throw it out!
If you’re not 100% sure an item can be flushed, err on the side of caution. Throw it out and don’t risk your plumbing, home, and the environment by flushing something that isn’t meant to be flushed.
This July and beyond, flush smart and avoid costly clogs and other consequences. By doing your part and flushing responsibly, you can help protect your home plumbing, local sewers, water treatment plants, and environment. For more tips, information, and resources, visit FlushSmart.org and follow @FlushSmart on Twitter and Facebook.