15 things you should never flush down the toilet in Australia

Dealing with a blocked toilet can be a real inconvenience, but being aware of the signs and knowing who to call can make all the difference.

In this guide, we’ll explore the unmistakable signs that your toilet might be blocked, offering easy-to-understand insights to help you identify the issue early on. Additionally, we’ll discuss the steps to take if you find yourself facing a stubborn blockage and need to reach out for professional assistance.

Let’s dive into the common indicators that your toilet might be in need of some attention and explore the best practices for addressing this common household challenge.

Here are 15 Things you should never flush down the toilet in Australia

In Australia, maintaining a functional and environmentally responsible plumbing system is crucial. Flushing the wrong items down the toilet can lead to blockages, environmental pollution, and damage to sewage systems.

To help you navigate proper waste disposal practices, here are 15 things you should never flush down the toilet.

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  1. Wet wipes: Despite the misleading “flushable” label on some packaging, wet wipes don’t break down easily. Instead, they can accumulate and cause blockages in sewage systems, leading to costly repairs and potential environmental harm.
  2. Cotton buds and swabs: These seemingly innocuous items can wreak havoc on plumbing and contribute to pollution in waterways. They don’t disintegrate easily and often get entangled with other debris, forming clogs in pipes.
  3. Tampons and sanitary pads: While it might be tempting to flush these items for convenience, it’s a harmful practice. Tampons and sanitary pads can lead to blockages and environmental issues, so it’s essential to dispose of them in the bin.
  4. Dental floss: Non-biodegradable dental floss can wrap around other materials in the sewage system, creating blockages and impeding the flow of wastewater. Properly dispose of dental floss in the trash to avoid these issues.
  5. Hair: Large amounts of hair can accumulate in pipes, especially in households with long-haired occupants. Over time, this can lead to blockages, requiring professional intervention to resolve.
  6. Cigarette butts: Cigarette butts contain harmful toxins that can leach into water systems. Flushing them down the toilet is not only detrimental to the environment but can also contribute to blockages in plumbing.
  7. Condoms: Flushing condoms is a common but problematic practice. Condoms don’t break down easily and can cause blockages in sewage systems. Proper disposal in the trash is essential to prevent plumbing issues.
  8. Medications: Flushing expired or unused medications down the toilet can lead to water contamination. Instead, take them to a pharmacy or a designated collection point for proper disposal.
  9. Paper towels and tissues: Unlike toilet paper, paper towels and tissues do not disintegrate quickly. Flushing them down the toilet can contribute to blockages, so it’s advisable to dispose of them in a bin.
  10. Diapers: Disposing of diapers in the toilet is a major contributor to sewage blockages. Diapers don’t break down easily, and the absorbent materials can expand, causing plumbing issues.
  11. Cooking grease and oil: Pouring cooking grease and oil down the toilet can lead to solidification in pipes, resulting in blockages. Instead, dispose of these substances in the trash or recycle them appropriately.
  12. Cat litter: Even if labelled as flushable, cat litter can clump and cause blockages in pipes. It’s safer to dispose of cat litter in the trash to prevent plumbing problems.
  13. Chewing gum: Gum is not biodegradable and can adhere to pipes, contributing to blockages. Dispose of chewing gum in the trash to avoid plumbing issues.
  14. Bandages and plasters: Flushing bandages and plasters down the toilet is not recommended. These items can accumulate and cause blockages in sewage systems. Proper disposal in the bin is crucial.
  15. Expired or unused household chemicals: Flushing household chemicals down the toilet can contaminate water sources. It’s essential to take these items to designated collection points for safe and environmentally friendly disposal.
Woman hand throw paper towels in the toilet bowl. Cleaning, Lifestyle and personal hygiene concept

So what can I flush down the toilet?

Flushing only human waste and toilet paper down the toilet is the best practice to ensure the proper functioning of sewage systems and to minimize environmental impact. Here’s a breakdown of what you can safely flush down the toilet:

  1. Toilet Paper: Standard toilet paper is designed to break down easily in water, making it safe to flush.
  2. Human Waste: Only bodily waste and toilet paper should be flushed. Feces and urine are the only organic materials that sewage systems are equipped to handle.
  3. Water: Flushing with water is, of course, an essential part of the process.

It’s important to note that items labelled as “flushable,” such as certain wipes or hygiene products, may not break down as easily as advertised. While they may go down the toilet, they can contribute to blockages in pipes and create issues in sewage systems. To maintain a trouble-free plumbing system and to be environmentally conscious, it’s recommended to limit flushing to the items mentioned above.

For the disposal of other items like wet wipes, hygiene products, and various forms of trash, use a proper waste bin. This ensures that non-biodegradable materials don’t end up causing blockages, pollution, or other environmental issues. If you have any doubts about whether an item is flushable, it’s always safer to dispose of it in the trash. Responsible waste disposal helps preserve the functionality of plumbing systems and protects the environment.

What are the signs your toilet is blocked?

A blocked toilet can be a real hassle, but if you know the signs, you can catch the problem early. Here are some easy-to-spot signs that your toilet might be blocked:

  1. Slow Draining: If you notice that your toilet is taking longer than usual to empty after flushing, it could be a sign of a blockage. Normally, water should flow down swiftly, so a slow drain might mean there’s something in the way.
  2. Gurgling Sounds: Weird gurgling noises when you flush are a red flag. These sounds can indicate that air is trapped in the pipes due to a blockage. It’s like your toilet’s way of saying, “Hey, something’s not right down here!”
  3. Water Rising: If you flush the toilet and instead of going down, the water starts to rise, you’ve got a blockage. This is a clear sign that something is stopping the water from going where it’s supposed to.
  4. Visible Blockage: Sometimes, you might notice things you didn’t flush (or shouldn’t have) staring back at you. It could be toilet paper, wipes, or other items causing a traffic jam in your pipes.
  5. Bad Smells: Unpleasant odours coming from your toilet can be a sign of a blockage. When things get stuck, they can start to smell, and that’s not something you want lingering in your bathroom.
  6. Water Overflowing: This is a more serious sign. If the blockage is severe, your toilet might overflow. This is not only messy but can also cause water damage to your bathroom.
  7. Bubbling in Other Drains: If you notice bubbles or strange sounds in other drains when you flush, it might mean there’s a blockage somewhere in the pipes.
cropped view of plumber holding plunger near toilet

Now, if you notice any of these signs, don’t panic! There are a few things you can try before calling in the experts:

  • Plunger Power: A plunger can be your best friend. Give it a few firm plunges to see if you can dislodge the blockage.
  • Natural Solutions: Pouring hot water, baking soda, or a mixture of vinegar and baking soda down the toilet might help break down the blockage.
  • Call a Professional: If all else fails, it’s time to call in the experts. A plumber can use special tools to clear stubborn blockages and get your toilet back to normal.

Remember, regular maintenance and being mindful of what goes down the toilet can prevent blockages in the first place. Keep an eye out for these signs, and you’ll be on top of any toilet troubles that come your way!

Who should I call if my toilet is blocked in Australia?

If you find yourself dealing with a blocked toilet in Australia, the best course of action is to contact a licensed plumber to address the issue. Plumbers are trained professionals equipped with the knowledge and tools to efficiently diagnose and resolve plumbing problems, including toilet blockages.

Here are the steps you can take when your toilet is blocked:

  1. Plumber: Call a licensed plumber in your area. They have the expertise to identify and fix the root cause of the blockage. You can find local plumbers through online directories, recommendations from friends or family, or by contacting your local plumbing association.
  2. Emergency Plumbing Services: If the blockage is causing immediate issues, such as water overflow or potential damage, consider seeking emergency plumbing services. Many plumbing companies offer 24/7 emergency assistance to address urgent problems.
  3. Do Not Use Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using harsh chemicals or drain cleaners without professional guidance, as these can sometimes worsen the situation or cause damage to your plumbing system.
  4. Plunger: Before calling a plumber, you can attempt to use a plunger to dislodge the blockage. Plungers are often effective for minor blockages. If the problem persists, it’s time to seek professional help.

Remember that prompt action can prevent further damage and ensure a quicker resolution to the problem. Additionally, maintaining good plumbing practices, such as avoiding flushing inappropriate items, can help prevent blockages in the future.

Keep the contact information of a reliable plumber handy, and don’t hesitate to call for assistance when needed. Professional plumbers can provide the expertise and tools necessary to get your toilet and plumbing system back in working order.

In conclusion

Being attentive to the signs of a blocked toilet empowers you to take proactive measures before the issue escalates. From slow draining and gurgling sounds to visible blockages and unpleasant smells, our guide has shed light on the red flags that should prompt your attention.

Sometimes, however, you should avoid do-it-yourself, because it can make things worse! While a plunger and some DIY solutions may work for minor blockages, when the problem persists or worsens, it’s crucial to reach out to a licensed plumber.

Keep an eye out for these signs, and you’ll be well-prepared to tackle any toilet blockage that comes your way.

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