What Not To Flush

Kids are fascinated by gross stuff. It's an ideal age to teach about the mystery of wastewater (sewage) treatment — what happens to the stuff that does go down our toilets and drains?!

One of the biggest challenges for wastewater systems is that the wrong things end up clogging our pips and pumps, which can damage the equipment we need to move and treat wastewater.

So-called “flushable” wipes, paper towels, tissues, tampons and sanitary pads, and other dense paper materials should NOT be thrown in the toilet. On top of that, when people pour grease, oils, or fats down the kitchen drain, these attach to the paper products, causing “fatbergs” to form.

The result can be clogged pipes, sewage backups into homes, and potentially expensive repairs.

Engage your students in what not to throw down the toilet or drain. Here’s a quick list:

  • Wipes (even if they are labeled "flushable," they do not break down)
  • Tissues and paper towels
  • Dental floss
  • Tampons and sanitary pads
  • Condoms
  • Cotton swabs and cotton balls
  • Medicines
  • Rags
  • Fats, oils, and grease
  • Clumping cat litter
Bottom line: If it isn’t toilet paper or doesn’t come out of your body, throw it in the trash.

Resources and links