12 things you should never, ever flush down your toilet

Your average toilet flush may handle a lot of natural waste—and toilet paper—but it isn’t designed to handle anything else. The best way to increase the longevity of your toilets and avoid annoying plumbing issues (plus lots of extra plunger time) is to keep all other waste and trash away from your toilets. Take a look at the worst things to go down a toilet: Maybe it’s time for some new rules around your house.

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Tissues and paper towels

While they may seem a little like toilet paper, they are not. The materials used to make tissues, paper towels and similar products do not dissolve easily and are far more likely to clog your toilet, as well as cause problems for your septic tank or at your water treatment facility.

Cat litter

Even if your cat litter says that it is "flushable," don't flush it. All cat litter is bad for your toilet. It lingers in your pipes, refuses to dissolve easily and interacts poorly with your sewer system. If the temptation to use the toilet is too much for a family member in charge of cleaning litter, then put a box of disposable plastic bags or similar poop-scooping solutions by the litter box so that it's less of an issue.

Disposable diapers 

Yes, disposable diapers tend to get covered in waste. Unfortunately, toilets were not made for any kind of disposable diaper: Trying to flush these diapers is an incredibly common cause of serious pipe clogs that need professional attention. Avoid this problem, and provide another option for dealing with diapers. Here are 10 more ways you never knew you were using the toilet wrong.

Tampons 

While the toilet is frequently a handy option to get rid of tampons and other feminine hygiene products, it's also a bad idea. Tampons can easily create clogs deep in pipes and should never be flushed.

Condoms 

Condoms are another case where convenience shouldn't trump toilet care. Throw them in the trash instead of flushing: Both condom materials (typically latex) and associated lubricants are bad for your plumbing.

Anything made of cotton

This includes cotton swabs, cotton balls, Q-tips, and any other associated product. Cotton is excellent at absorbing water, but it doesn't break down easily. The combination is a dire one for your plumbing. Make sure you know these 7 ways you're probably cleaning your bathroom wrong.

Any type of plastic

It doesn't matter if it's packaging plastic or a Band-Aid, you can't flush plastics down a toilet. Plastic doesn't dissolve and can cause many problems in your pipes—if they get that far after a toilet flush.

Dental floss

Yes, even small items like dental floss can cause trouble for your toilet. It's stringy, doesn't dissolve and can bundle around other objects to form larger clogs.

Food

Any type of food is off limits, no matter how soft it may be. The same is true of any leftover pieces, shells, bones or grounds that you want to get rid of. These belong in neither your pipes nor your garbage disposal. Throw them in the trash or compost.

Gum 

Water does nothing to get rid of gum, so it tends to stick around—literally. You don't want that in your pipes! If something does get clogged, check out these ways to unclog a toilet without a plunger.

Hair

If you're fishing hairballs from your sink or tub, don't dump them in the toilet: That's just moving the clog from one part of your plumbing to another. Throw it away instead.

Pills

TV makes flushing pills look dramatic and effective, but it's a horrible idea. If you have pills past expiration or just don't want them in your house, find a local medicine take-back program or grind them up and throw them away on trash day. Otherwise, those potent chemicals will get into sewer systems and even groundwater, where they can do untold damage. And don't even think about putting them down the sink instead. Here are 12 things you should never, ever pour down the drain.

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