What You Can & Cannot Flush Down Your Toilet

Not all paper products are created equal. Even though nose tissues and toilet paper may look similar, you can’t readily substitute one for another.

In these unusual times, though, are there toilet paper substitutes that you can flush down the toilet?

What Not To Flush

Say the worst happens and you do run out of toilet paper at home. Before you start to reach for anything resembling a paper product, think: how can this impact the toilet? While running out of toilet paper puts you in a pretty rough position, you don’t want to make things worse by cracking or clogging your pipes. That’s why it’s best to avoid using any of the following as a toilet paper substitute:

  • Facial tissue
  • Napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Socks or cloth

Some of these items, like socks and cloth, make sense – after all, they’re not going to dissolve as quickly as toilet paper would. But facial tissues and toilet paper are basically the same things, right?

Not at all. Facial tissues are actually made of tougher stuff than toilet paper. Bring too many tissues together, and you’ll end up with a hefty clog. The same goes for napkins and paper towels. Because they weren’t designed with toilet pH and pipe width in mind, they’re not going to treat your pipes with any kindness when flushed.

Facing The Consequences

Unfortunately, if you do opt to flush some of the aforementioned unflushables, your pipes may suffer. Signs of pipe damage in your home will vary, but you can typically blame a clog for the worst of time.

What signs do you want to look out for, if you have been flushing some inadvisable products? Symptoms of a clog or other pipe damage include:

  • Dampness in your basement or bathroom
  • Cracked pipes
  • A toilet that refuses to flush
  • A toilet that has a crack running through its tank
  • Leaking bathroom joints
  • Standing water in your basement or lawn

The good news is that home inspections are easy enough to handle. You can readily call an inspector to come and visit your home is you suspect that something’s amiss. During the inspection process, inspectors will have to shut off your water, but they’ll more than likely be able to identify the source of your problem and propose a workable – and affordable – solution.

What does your average home inspection look like? Typically, an inspector will take the following steps:

  1. Are there any obvious signs of damage, like cracks or standing water?
  2. If there aren’t clear signs of damage, an inspector will move on to your pipes.
  3. With the water off, the inspector will test the toilet.
  4. Afterward, an inspector will conduct an assessment of the perimeter of your home.
  5. Finally, the inspector will assess the state of your sump pump or sewer.

If an inspector does find signs of damage in your home, it’ll be up to the both of you to determine what kinds of repairs you want to invest in. The kinds of repairs you need will vary based on the severity of your damage, but more often than not, inspectors will propose one of the following options:

  • Pipe replacement
  • Pipe extension
  • Pipe snaking
  • Toilet replacement
  • Sewer cleaning
  • Drain cleaning
  • Internal waterproofing

Your Toilet Paper Substitutes

That’s a lot of effort that you can avoid if you don’t flush inappropriate materials. As grocery stores do run short on toilet paper, though, are there alternatives you can take advantage of?

In short, not really. It may be worthwhile, however, to invest in a bidet. While these tools are unconventional to see in Western homes, countries like Japan have used them to great success.

Alternatively, you can use some of the aforementioned products – so long as you don’t immediately flush them down the toilet. It’s often best to have an out-of-the-way trash can on hand so you can discreetly dispose of the napkins, tissues or rags you use as a toilet paper substitute.

In these strange times, homeowners have to consider what unconventional solutions will take the place of the everyday. When it comes to toilet paper, no substitute (save for a bidet) will do. Don’t hoard, but make sure you have enough to live comfortably until you see it back on the shelves again. Your toilet and pipes will thank you.

A 1 Sewer & Drain Plumbing & Heating, Plumber, Virginia Beach, VA Home Advisor ApprovedPorch Featured Pro