There are some items you should never flush or try to send down the drain. Now, we know what you are thinking: you outgrew the stage of flushing non-flushable items when you were still a toddler. You use common sense, so you shouldn’t have any issues.

But the truth is that there are many items you might be flushing or putting down the drain that you really shouldn’t. These items are a little less obvious than your toy soldiers, but they can produce equally bad results. Below are 10 common things you should never flush or put down the drain.

1. Bathroom Wipes

Whether they are meant for you or your baby, these moist towelettes are not meant to be flushed. Yes, there are versions which advertise themselves as being safe for flushing, but the truth is that most do not degrade quickly enough to avoid causing problems. Many plumbers report that these have become the number one culprit of clogged pipes, and some cities are even suing manufacturers of these wipes for the damage they are causing to city sewer systems.

2. Cotton Balls and Cotton Swabs

These are items most of us would not give much thought to flushing. First of all, they are small. Second of all, they are cotton, and cotton is often referenced by toilet paper manufacturers, making it easy for you to feel good about flushing them. But don’t. They tend to get stuck in the bends of pipes, and since they do not degrade like toilet paper, they simply accumulate and create clogs.

3. Medication

We hear a lot about how we should get rid of old medication, especially pain killers, which can tempt thieves. So what do many people do? They dump the medications into the toilet and flush them. This is a major problem. Medications can contaminate the groundwater, hurt wildlife, and can kill healthy bacteria needed to keep our ecosystem in balance. Instead, turn your medications in at a safe location. Go to www.takebackyourmeds.org to find a location near you.

4. Dental Floss

Much like cotton balls and cotton swabs, it is easy to see flushing or sending dental floss down the drain as harmless because it is so small. However, it can create clumps, just like hair, clogging drains. It can also wrap itself around other debris in the pipes, creating large blockages.

5. Cat Litter

We have all seen cat litter that claims to be flushable. But no matter what the box claims, do not flush it. Sand and clay are the two main materials in cat litter, and they are very bad for your pipes. And if you use clumping cat litter, it is just going to clump up in your pipes and create terrible clogs. Plus, cat fecal matter tends to have toxins and parasites that just should not be in the water system.

6. Tampons and Pads

There is no such thing as a flushable pad, and even though there are tampons that claim to be flushable, it is the same situation as with those flushable wipes we mentioned. These are products designed to absorb moisture, which means that as they come into contact with water, they expand and expand. These items should always go in the garbage bin.

7. Grease and Oil

Moving to the kitchen now, it is important to know that grease and oil should never be poured down the drain. In fact, any fatty products—including butter—should be disposed of only in the trash. These items stick to the insides of pipes, and they build up over time. Eventually, they can create a complete barrier in the pipe.

8. Coffee Grounds

Here is one that comes as a surprise to many. You may have seen a life hack on various sites telling you to put coffee grounds in your garbage disposal to help absorb odors. Well, while your garbage disposal might smell good for a while, these grounds become solid and eventually clog the pipes, which is decidedly less pleasant.

9. Expandable Foods

Both rice and pasta, as well as other grains, absorb water. It is how they cook. However, this absorption doesn’t stop when cooking stops. If exposed to liquids again, they will continue to absorb and expand. In addition to expanding, they tend to turn gummy and stick to the pipes, causing clogs.

10. Flour

Another sticky item? Flour. If put down the drain, it will coagulate and dry out, hardening to the pipes and building up over time. Always dispose of flour in the trash can.

If you have flushed or put these items down the drain in the past, it is best you have a plumber come out to assess the situation now, before a problem arises. Orange Coast Plumbing is happy to help. Simply give us a call and we will ensure your drains are clean and in excellent shape.