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Your Toilet is Not a Garbage Can - What you Flush, Matters!

Post Date:02/05/2018 4:00 pm

Photo showing a toilet flushingWhen you use your toilet, wastewater leaves your home through a four-inch diameter pipe connected to the City of Hillsboro’s sewer system.

We don’t often think twice about what we’re flushing down the toilet - but chances are there are a number of things we are absent mindedly tossing into the toilet that could do some serious damage.

Below are common household items that if flushed, can lead to clogged pipes, wastewater overflow, and costly repairs. Instead of flushing, dispose of all the below items in the trash.

  1. Flushable and Sanitary Wipes: Don’t be fooled by labels - even if the wipes say “flushable,” they will not dissolve and end up clogging your pipes.
  2. Maxi Pads, Tampon Applicators, and Diapers: These products are developed to absorb water, not dissolve.
  3. Dental Floss: Waxed and woven dental floss is not biodegradable and can cause clogs by catching other debris.
  4. Cotton Balls, Swabs, and Q-tips: These items do not breakdown and instead clump together causing clogs.
  5. Rags, Bandages, and Dressings:These materials often contain plastic or cloth material that are not biodegradable and will cause clogged pipes.
  6. Paper Towels: Paper towels are not designed to break down in water like toilet paper.
  7. Hair: Hair does not dissolve in water and will get tangled up in the pipes. When cleaning out your hairbrush and combs, toss hair in the trash.
  8. Cat Litter and Dried Poop: Cat litter is made of clay and sand and should never be flushed down the toilet. Dried cat poop does not dissolve and can end up clogging your pipes. Instead, bag it and throw it away.
  9. Condoms: These latex items cause major problems for the toilet, septic systems, and sewage treatment plant.
  10. Fats, Oils, and Grease: Never dump cooking fats or grease down any drain - when it cools, it hardens and clogs your pipes. Instead, cool the grease and then trash it. Pick up a free grease kit at the City of Hillsboro Public Works Facility at 4415 NE 30th Avenue, Hillsboro, OR 97124.
  11. Prescription Medications: Medicines will not dissolve in the water. In fact, drugs destroy bacteria, contaminate groundwater supplies, and can have terrible effects on wildlife downstream. Please dispose of unused/unwanted medications at the:
    1. Hillsboro Police Department’s free Drug Turn In event on April 28, 2018. Additional information available online.
    2. Washington County Sheriff's Office Rx Drop Off Box located at 215 SW Adams Ave, Hillsboro, Oregon 97123.
  12. Cigarette butts: These are not biodegradable and are filled with chemicals that pollute the environment.
  13. Egg Shells: Putting egg shells down the disposal will create “sand-like particles” and/or stick to the pipe walls, slowing the drain and possibly causing a clog.
  14. Coffee Grounds: Nothing causes more blockages and clogged pipes than coffee grounds and grease. Coffee grounds don't break down in water, in fact, they usually clump together.
  15. Solvent or Oil Based Paints: Solvent and oil paints should never be poured down the drain. Paints may contain biocides, a type of pesticide that inhibits mold growth. Some types of paints, especially those that are used by artists, contain harmful metals, like lead and cadmium.

Keep your pipes in working condition by only disposing of human waste and toilet paper in your toilet. Using your toilet for any other use can result in costly homeowner repairs and maintenance and potentially pollution of the Tualatin River.

Remember, think before you flush!

For questions regarding a wastewater overflow, contact the City of Hillsboro Public Works Department at 503-615-6509 or visit Hillsboro-Oregon.gov/PublicWorks.

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