Do you have a trash can or waste bin in your bathroom? If not, it’s time to plunk one down. Taking this simple step can help you and your family flush better in the days ahead. And yes, we could all be flushing better.

You see, every day, countless Chicagoans flush away household items that really should never be allowed anywhere near a plumbing system. Disposing of these things safely – instead of absentmindedly spinning them down the drain – could help prevent dozens of clogs a year, which could save you plenty of money, time, and stress in the long run.

To ensure the health and longevity of your toilet, your plumbing system, and the environment, stop flushing these eight items now:

1.) Baby Wipes

We’ve previously called bathroom wipes the number one object to stop flushing down the toilet, and we stick by that today! What makes wipes so harmful? Unlike toilet paper, these moist towelettes are built with durability in mind. Indeed, in some trials, “flushable” wipes didn’t even break down after 10 minutes in a food processor.

If industrial kitchen tools can’t break the material up, then your plumbing won’t be able to do the job either. The resulting clogs could wreak havoc on your entire system – and your wallet.

2.) Diapers

Diapers are actually designed to be super-absorbent, meaning that they don’t break down when exposed to water; in fact, they expand. If you manage to flush that dirty diaper at all, it will likely get caught in the P-trap or U-bend almost instantly, leaving you with nothing more than overflowing toilet for your trouble.

3.) Paper Towels, Facial Tissues, and Cotton Balls

Paper towels are basically just big pieces of toilet paper, right? Wrong. Like diapers and sanitary wipes, paper towels are designed to absorb water, not break apart in it – meaning that a wad is more likely to get stuck in your pipes than flushed away. The same goes for facial tissues and cotton balls or swabs, which have a nasty tendency to gum together, like plaque, and stop up your pipes.

4.) “F.O.G”

Don’t let the “F.O.G” roll down your toilet! We don’t mean mist (although how creepy would that be?), but fats, oils, and grease. Although more commonly dumped down sinks than toilets, these three substances should never go down any of your drains.

Why are these liquids so dangerous? Because they don’t stay liquid forever! As soon as your greases and fats cool, they congeal into waxy solids that coat the inside of your pipes, stopping water in its tracks.

5.) Kitty Litter

Human waste can go down the toilet, so cat waste can too, right? Isn’t kitty litter basically the feline equivalent of toilet paper?

While that’s a cute thought, it’s also a dangerous one. The clay and sand that make up most cat litters can be very damaging to your drains and pipes, and the waste itself may contain toxins and parasites that we don’t want filtering into our water supply.

6.) Condoms

Though it may seem thin, the latex that goes into condoms is actually extremely pliant and durable – meaning that it doesn’t break down easily, and can cause many problems for septic tanks and sewage treatment plants when it gets sucked away.

7.) Tampons and Pads

Like other medical swabs, tampons and pads are designed to absorb liquid and expand, rather than break down. One or two tampons might not cause an immediate clog, but they will build up the more you flush them away. Don’t take that risk!

8.) Medications and Other Hazardous Materials

As cool as it looked in Goodfellas, flushing old pills and medication down the toilet can actually be extremely dangerous. Rather than clog up your system, flushing pills and other hazardous home waste poses more of a threat to the environment; these chemicals can easily seep into groundwater, contaminating the water supply that countless plants and animals rely on to thrive.

Having toilet trouble of your own? Looking to fix or fine tune your system? J. Blanton Plumbing is here to help! Drop us a line, day or night, for all of your Chicagoland plumbing needs.