10 Things You Should NEVER Flush if You Have a Septic System

Updated: Jul 26

Oh the stories we could share (but we won't, because we respect our customers' privacy)! You wouldn’t believe some of the things we have cleared from septic systems. In an attempt to save you an unnecessary expense, we've put together a list of things that could damage your septic system and should never be flushed.



Really though, you could just remember the golden rule (no pun intended):

Just because it's small enough to flush down the toilet, doesn't mean it should be.

We understand that it’s tempting to flush nearly anything down the toilet— out of sight, out of mind. Throwing caution to the wind is not a smart approach, however, as you run the risk of damaging septic tanks and city wastewater treatment centers, as well as contributing to toxic environmental pollution.


Here are some of the most commonly flushed items that you should really avoid flushing if you have a septic system.

1. Feminine Products

Awkward, but had to be said. Your septic tank is not designed to break these items down, so they sit in your septic tank, eventually causing clogs.


2. Wet Wipes

We get it. You like to be fresh and clean. However, just because the package says "flushable," doesn’t mean your septic tank is equipped to break them down. Instead, they often clog and backup sewage pipes. If you use wet wipes, you should throw them in the trash to avoid clogging and other problems.

 

3. Diapers

Diaper Genies and similar products are much cheaper than getting your septic tank repaired, we promise. Diapers are created to expand in water. In the unlikely case you actually get the diaper to flush, it will likely get caught in the U-bend of the pipe.


4. Dental Floss

Once again, just because it's small enough to flush down the toilet, doesn't mean it should be. Dental floss doesn’t break down, meaning that one little strand you flush every day can add up to a big problem. It wraps around itself, and other things, and can lead to serious clogs and even environmental damage if it ends up in your septic tank.


5. Q-Tips and Cotton Balls

We're starting to feel like someone put us on repeat. Q-tips and cotton balls...cannot break down in your tank. Instead, can clog your septic system, which can lead to backups. Even worse, these items will soak up the liquids in your tank, which can lead to an overworked system and the need for increased pump outs. 


6. Cat Poop

If you're a cat owner, you've probably heard of people who teach their cats to use the toilet. Seems like a nice idea, right? No smelly litter box, no scooping poop. Well...Septic systems operate on a delicate balance of microbes that is designed to break down human waste. Cat poop will add different microbes that the septic tank is not designed to handle. Also, cat waste often contains a parasite called Toxoplasma, which can cause serious health problems to humans. Because septic systems and wastewater treatment systems are not designed to handle this parasite, they will not remove it from the water. The polluted water will then be released back into the environment, potentially harming humans as well as local wildlife.


And for those cat owners who like to scoop from the litter box into the toilet? When cat poop sits in the litter box, it dries out. When the poop dries out, it can (here it comes) create clogs in your plumbing.


7. Cat Litter

Most cat litters are made of bentonite clay, which hardens when it gets wet. That's why we like it, right? For its clumping abilities, which makes it easier to scoop. However, if flushed down the toilet, along with all that water, cat litter can become cement-like...smack dab in the middle of your pipes. Sounds bad? It is. It can lead to clogs or blockages.


Even “flushable” litter is not flushable if you have a septic system, as it can still clump up and clog your pipes. It will also affect the balance of bacteria in your septic system, making it harder to break down waste.


8. Medication

If pills or other medication expires, or if you’re done with a prescription before the medication is finished, don’t flush it down your toilet. These medications can impact the balance of bacteria in your tank, which can make your septic system unable to break down waste. Additionally, releasing medications into your septic system can result in them seeping into the groundwater, which can be unhealthy for people and can damage the environment.


9. Cooking Grease

Just so we're clear, grease should never be poured down any drain. It seems like a good idea, because it's liquid-y and pours so smoothly, but when it cools, it will congeal and clog up your pipes. We suggest collecting grease in a glass jar and throwing it away in the trash. 


10. Cigarette Butts

Throwing cigarette butts in the trash could cause a fire. But why throw them in the trash, when there's this tempting bowl of water which will not only put the cigarette butt out, but will carry it away so the smell doesn't linger? We beg you to resist temptation. Cigarette butts can be very damaging to the bacteria balance in your tank. They can also contaminate your groundwater, making it unsafe to drink and unhealthy for plants and animals.


What Can You Flush?

You can flush exactly what toilets were designed to flush, and nothing more: human waste and toilet paper.


Speaking of toilet paper, even the thick and plush toilet paper (the only comfortable kind!) can sometimes be difficult to breakdown. Try to be conservative with your toilet paper use, and to avoid clogging the drain, you may need to give it a courtesy flush.


We hope this list helps you avoid unnecessary and costly repairs to your septic system. If you do suspect there is an issue, though, don't wait! We're available 24-7 to get you back up and running quickly.





About ADB Septic | CT Septic System Services


A.D.B. Construction & Septic Corp. is a septic services business in Manchester, CT. We proudly serve residential and commercial customers all over Hartford County and beyond with a full slate of services. With over 20 years of experience, we have completed countless projects of all scopes and sizes. Needless to say, there is nothing we can’t do when it comes to septic tanks, sewer systems, drains, and more.


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