4 Reasons not to flush feminine products down the toilet

Girl Trying to Unclog a Toilet Bowl
There is a long list of things that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet(grease, fat, wipes, flushable wipes, condoms, paper towels, medicine), but one product that is notorious for damaging plumbing is feminine products like tampons. Here are four reasons not to flush feminine products down the toilet:

1. By design, tampons are absorbent and do not break down

Why are tampons so bad for plumbing? In order to fulfill their function, tampons are designed to be absorbent and not break down quickly. Even biodegradable tampons will take weeks to months to degrade. If you flush a tampon, and it makes it through your plumbing, it will end up at the sewage treatment plant fully intact, or at the bottom of your septic system slowly creating a clog with the other tampons flushed before it. In a sense, tampons are designs to “clog” plumbing.

2. Tampons clog pipes

Because tampons are absorbent, they can grow ten time their original size when soaked with liquid. If your sewer pipes have any corrosion, or roots have started to grow into the pipes, tampons can get caught in the pipe and create a dam effect by not allowing other items flushed (including human waste) down the pipe. Eventually, the cog will become so bad that human waste will start coming up through the drains.

3. Tampons damage septic systems

Flushed tampons that make it out of your house’s plumbing and into the septic system can continue to cause problems. Because they don’t degrade, they take up room in the septic tank, can contribute to block distribution tubes, and therefore cause sewage to seep up through the drains in your home.

4. Tampons cause water utilities billions of dollars in maintenance and repair costs.

This isn’t exactly a fair statement. According to the NACWA (National Association of Clean Water Agencies) tampons, and other items that shouldn’t be flushed, are responsible for costing tax-payers billions of dollars. These items must be filtered out of the water using screens, and chemically treated. Once removed from the water they are sent to landfills. That means, regardless of whether you flush the tampon, or wrap it in toilet paper and throw it in the trash, it will end up in the landfill. The difference is that tampons that are flushed can damage plumbing and create additional costs for our already overworked infrastructure, before reaching their final destination.
There just isn’t a good reason to flush a tampon, or other similar items, down the toilet. The only thing that should be flushed is human waste and toilet paper—the rest goes in the trash or recycling. The NACWA’s campaign slogan says it all: “toilets are not trashcans.”
If you are concerned about what has been flushed down your toilet and you are noticing slower drains and gurgling plumbing, give Rick’s plumbing a call. We will come out and diagnose the problem and get your plumbing flowing again. No matter what we find—no judgement—we are here to help.