Please, We’re Begging You: 10 Things NOT to Flush Down Your Toilet

NYC Water Staff
NYC Water
Published in
3 min readFeb 28, 2019


Each year, we spend more than $19 million to repair damage to our facilities from wipes and send tons of trash to the landfill—not great for the environment or taxpayers’ wallets. Flushing wipes down your toilet and dumping grease down your drain can lead to some real nastiness: the infamous fatbergs, sewer backups, and flooding. And that’s not even including the cost, which can run homeowners upwards of $10,000 to repair clogged household plumbing.

Bottom line: Toilets are not garbage cans. Nothing should be flushed down the toilet other than the 4 Ps — poop, pee, puke, and paper (toilet paper only!).

Short list, right? We can hear you now, “But what about my _____?!” So here it goes:

The Top 10 Things You Should Never Flush Down Your Toilet

Just stop. Please.

1. Wipes

Ugh. WIPES. Even wipes labeled “flushable” can cause damage to your pipes and sewer system, and wreak havoc in our wastewater treatment plants. If you’re using cleaning wipes, consider repurposing rags or using compostable paper towels. ♻ ️Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, y’all.

2. Grease

Cooking grease, even when poured into water, congeals when it cools and can build up in your pipes over time. Grease is the number one cause of sewer backups and can lead to nasty fatbergs. To properly dispose of grease, pour into a container (non-recyclable if possible), and discard in your regular trash.

3. Tampons and Pads

Think about it. When you use these products, you are hoping and praying that they absorb every drop coming out of your body. These products are specifically designed to absorb fluid and will actually expand when you flush them. They will not break down easily in the sewer system.

4. Condoms

Condoms! Use them. However, after you’ve gotten it on, don’t flush it down the toilet. Latex is not made to break down easily and, combined with other trash, could end up breaking machinery in our treatment plants. Just toss it.

5. Q-Tips and Cotton Balls

These products are prone to clumping together and can easily cause a clog in your pipes. Consider composting organic cotton balls or invest in reusable makeup applicators to be kinder to the environment and generate less waste.

6. Medication

Visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s site to view tips on how to dispose of your medication properly.

7. Paper Towels and Tissues

Only toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet. Seriously. Paper towels and tissues do not easily break down before hitting treatment plants and some even have trace amounts of plastics in them to make them more durable. (You’ve seen the ads. Paper towels are basically indestructible now.)

8. Contacts

Contacts are increasingly adding to the buildup of microplastics in our waterways. Contacts are so thin and buoyant that they might not get caught by our wastewater treatment screening process and end up in our waterways where they might get eaten by wildlife.

Is that what you really want? Fish and ducks chowing down on your old contacts?

9. Kitty Litter

Most toilets, especially the high-efficiency toilets that have been installed across NYC as part of our water conservation efforts, do not store enough water to properly move your cat’s bathroom through our pipes. Sorry. You gotta toss it.

10. Dental Floss

Dental floss can turn into a net when flushed, catching and holding onto other debris in the sewer system. It can even wrap around parts of septic systems and burn out the motor. All of these problems and we bet you’re not even flossing as often as you should.

For more info on how you can wage war against fatbergs, visit us at



NYC Water Staff
NYC Water

Drink from the tap, flush the toilet, enjoy New York's waterways—we make sure everything flows according to plan.