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When it comes to protecting the plumbing system, we need to be very careful about what kind of stuff we put down the drain or toilet, as there are only so many things that it can handle. Some items, such as toilet paper, have been specifically designed so they can be flushed without causing problems to our plumbing system. Unfortunately, toilet paper is not the only thing people tend to throw in their sink drains and toilets.

So if you too have a habit of throwing things down the drain or toilet and you’re not sure if they can harm your plumbing system, check out our list below, to see which items you should be more careful about.

1. Paper Products

While as we mentioned above, toilet paper has been developed so it can be safely flushed; other paper items such as paper towels, tissues, cotton balls, and so on should not be thrown in the toilet as they can cause blockages and clogs to form and damage your plumbing system.

2. Food Waste and Leftovers

While efficient garbage disposal systems can break down even the toughest of waste, such as bones, eggshells, and other hard food waste, sometimes, these items can still cause clogs to form down the line. Coffee grounds are another common food waste people throw down the kitchen sink, and although it might not seem like they can cause much damage, they are a severe threat to both your garbage disposal and your drains, and should always be thrown out in the garbage bin.

3. Grease, Fats, and Oils

When exposed to time and cold temperature, grease, fats, and oils solidify and build upon the sides of your pipes. Combined with other leftovers, they can clog the whole system and not only damage your plumbing system but can harm the public one as well. That’s why it’s crucial to avoid throwing any type of grease, oils, or fats down the drain and dispose of these types of items in the trash.

The best way to dispose of such waste is to collect it in a can and recycle it, so it doesn’t impact our environment and our water sources. All you’ll need to do is find a recycling location for cooking oil in your area, collect the used oil in a container, and take it there.

4. Diapers

While it might be evident that diapers should not be thrown down the toilet, a lot of plumbing problems are still caused by diapers and similar hygiene products. If diapers get stuck in your pipes and cause a clog, the only solution you have is to call in a professional plumber so they can remove the obstruction. In some cases, they may need to go in a bit deeper, and that might involve gutting your plumbing, which can build up your costs.

5. Tampons and Maxi Pads

Same as it goes for diapers, maxi pads and tampons can also cause a big problem to your plumbing system since they are highly absorbent and don’t break down quickly. To avoid blockages from forming, you should always dispose of such products in the trash.

6. Hair and Dental Floss

While it can be difficult to stop hair from going down the drain, a simple drain cover or hair catcher can save you a lot of money and worries in the long term, as it will allow as little hairs as possible to go down the drain. Since hair and dental floss can easily stick to the sides and cause build-ups, you should avoid throwing them down the drain as much as possible.

7. Medicine

While medicine won’t clog your pipes on its own, unless you’re throwing out a lot of it at once, it can pollute the water supply and can be dangerous to both people, animals, and plants. Therefore you need to find the appropriate way to dispose of any medical waste and medicine according to your city’s guidelines. When in doubt, mix in the medicine with used coffee grounds, seal it up in an airtight container and throw the container in the garbage bin.

8. Condoms

While you probably know this one already, it’s important to mention that condoms should never be flushed down the toilet. Although it may seem like it’s flushed at first, it may reappear later on, or cause a clog to form, which will require you to call in a licensed plumber so they can flush it out.

9. Paint

While washing your brushes and painting equipment in your sink is okay, you should never dispose of large quantities of paint down the drain. Paint can contain toxic chemicals that can disturb the ecosystem and pose problems to the local water as well as the environment.

10. Chunky Waste

Chunks of waste, such as kids’ toys, sand, cat litter, goldfish, plastics, and pieces of metal, should never go down the drain or be flushed. While this seems like an obvious one, many are not aware that cat litter, sand, and cat feces can clog your pipes and damage your plumbing system. Disposing of cat feces and cat litter can lead to harmful toxins and parasites getting leaked into the water streams as well, which can pose a danger to humans and wildlife.

11. Fruit Pits

Fruit pits can pose damage to both your plumbing system and your garbage disposal. None are designed for disposing of such items, so if you do so, you may risk clogging up, not just your pipes, but your toilet and the sewer line it connects to it as well.

12. Fertilizer, Herbicides, Pesticides, and Insecticides

While they won’t cause any problems to your plumbing system, you should never dispose of fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides down the drain or flush them in your toilet. That’s because they have harmful chemicals and toxins, which can pose a great danger to your local water system, endangering both people and wildlife.

13. Automotive Fluids

Motor oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, and other automotive fluids or chemicals should never be flushed down the toilet, poured down the drain or into the soil, as they can pose real dangers to the environment, and can be fatal to humans, pets and wildlife.

The best way to get rid of them is to bring them to a recycling location. You should find out where the closest location near you is and take any used automotive fluids that they accept there.

14. Cleaning Products

Same as it is harmful and dangerous to pour automotive fluids, pesticides, herbicides, and other similar liquids down the drain, cleaning products should never go down the drain or toilet as well. They can not only contaminate the soil and water systems but if mixed some combinations of cleaning products can even cause toxic fumes to be released, which can be harmful to you and your family.

15. Gum

One of the easiest ways to clog your pipes is by disposing of gum down the drain or toilet. Chewing gum is very sticky and doesn’t break down in the water, which means it can get stuck to the inside of your pipes and form a clog with other items you may flush. The only proper way to dispose of your gum is to throw it in the trash.

16. Produce Stickers

While they are small and can be easily overlooked, produce stickers can stick to the impellers of your garbage disposal or cause a build-up in your drains. Along with other gunk and debris, they can quickly form a clog and damage your plumbing system. Since they are not water-soluble, they can get stuck and stay in your pipes for a long time after they’ve been flushed or disposed of.

That’s why it’s always best that you peel them off the produce and throw them in the trash can, so you can then use the produce peels as compost or dispose of them all together in the trash. Avoid using your garbage disposal for fruit or vegetable peelings as they can get stuck in the disposal and your pipes.

Before you decide to flush something down the toilet or pour it down the drain, do yourself and the environment a favour and find another way to dispose of it so you can save a lot of money on plumbing repairs and keep the environment clean.