Toilets Are Not Trash Cans!

Whether you flush it down the toilet, grind it in the garbage disposal, or pour it down the sink, shower, or bath, everything that goes down your drains ends up in your septic system. And what goes down the drain can have a major impact on how well your septic system works.

Your septic system is not a trash can. An easy rule of thumb? Don’t flush anything besides human waste and toilet paper. Never flush:

  • Cooking grease or oil
  • Photographic solutions
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Condoms
  • Dental floss
  • Diapers
  • Cigarette butts
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cat litter
  • Paper towels
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Household chemicals like gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, and paint or paint thinners

Think at the Sink!
Your septic system contains a collection of living organisms that digest and treat household waste. Pouring toxins down your drain can kill these organisms and harm your septic system. Whether you’re at the kitchen sink, bathtub, or utility sink:

  • Avoid chemical drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake.
  • Never pour cooking oil or grease down the drain!
  • Never pour oil-based paints, solvents, or large volumes of toxic cleaners down the drain. Even latex paint waste should be minimized.
  • Eliminate or limit the use of a garbage disposal, which will significantly reduce the amount of fats, grease, and solids that enter your septic tank and ultimately clog its drainfield.

Own an RV, boat or mobile home?
If you spend any time in a recreational vehicle (RV) or boat, you probably know of the problem of odors from sewage holding tanks. Learn more about proper and safe wastewater disposal—download EPA’s factsheet (2pp, 379K, About PDF) or call The National Small Flows Clearinghouse’s Septic System Care hotline toll-free at 1-800-624-8301.