What Can You Flush if You Don’t Have Toilet Paper?


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If there's no toilet paper, what items can we flush down our toilet?

panic buying toilet paper
An almost deserted shelf of tissues at the local shopping centre.

Toilet paper shortage has affected leading Australian supermarkets. The threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has driven several citizens into panic buying toilet paper. It seems everywhere we go at the moment,  people are talking about toilet paper and what alternatives they have due to being left with very few options.  Here a few things that you should not flush down the toilet drains.

1. Hand Towels

Hand towels are designed to be robust, to a slight degree water-absorbent, and will not break down with water as fast as toilet paper.

hand towels

2. Napkins.

Napkins are soft to use when in the dining table, but these are certainly not suitable to be flushed down the toilet. These do not disintegrate as quickly as toilet paper because of the difference in chemical composition during manufacture.

paper napkin

3. Flushable wipes.

Sad to say, flushable wipes are not really “flushable”. As much as advertisers claim that these wipes can be “good to go” down your toilet drains, this is furthest from the truth. Flushable wipes along with the regular ones will not break down even in a nuclear explosion. These wipes should be the last thing down a drain. These types of wipes should be rebranded as “non-flushable wipes” as far as any decent plumber is concerned. 

wet wipes

4. Baby wipes.

Under no circumstances should you throw baby wipes down the drain. These are usually composed mainly of polyester material that is not biodegradable at all. Polyester materials are also water-thirsty.  If baby wipes are constantly flushed down by all households, this could eventually contaminate our  groundwater. 

baby wipe

5. Newspapers.

Newspapers do not break down as easily as toilet paper, which is designed to decompose easily in toilet water. On average, it takes 6 weeks to decompose newspapers which is as long as any whole fruit does.

newspapers

Effects of Flushing Unsuitable Materials in the Toilet Drain

Many people are under the impression that once you‘ve flushed your toilet and the bowl is left empty, then your problems are flushed away. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  In Australia, we use as little water as possible to flush our toilets, and rightfully so being in the driest continent on the planet. To be exact, it’s only 4.5 litres full flush. This small amount of water will take the solids out of your bowl but often it will take many flushes before the solids break down and enter the council mains. By flushing unsuitable items down your drain which do not break down as easily as toilet paper, you are potentially causing blockages in your pipes. These blockages may cause significant costs to you when a plumber comes and clears your drains of these obstructions. It may even lead to larger remedial work if the blockage has become severe.   

Often the problems will also occur in the council mains when many people are flushing materials that are not designed for use in toilets. These larger blockages are a huge problem to the local infrastructure and community, costing tens of thousands to clear and repair,  and also causing disruption to everyday use.  

What's the solution to the toilet paper crisis?

The good news is there are some solutions that you can easily use that will alleviate drain problems at your house and keep the sewers flowing. 

  1.  Contact your plumber for a handheld bidet installation in your plumbing When used at the right water pressure, handheld bidets would not spray all over you or on the toilet seat. It is very similar to taking a shower, this time with your backside. The procedure removes the residue better than any dry wiping can. You can dry yourself with a bath towel designated for this purpose. Should you use a toilet paper still, then you will notice a significant decrease in the amount that you use. 

2. If you have no option but to use products like wipes or hand towel, then ensure you are placing them in bins or bags and not flushing them down your toilet. Dispose of these bins and bags with your rubbish until the toilet paper crisis is over.

The Plumbing and Electrical Doctor can install your handheld bidet sprayer TODAY.

For any further advice or tips, look through our blogs or give the Plumbing and Electrical Doctor a call on our hotline 131091

A short anecdote: When I was younger I had issues with my ears, and I recall a doctor telling my mother that you should never put anything smaller than your elbow down your ear canal. This statement, as odd as it sounded to a 5-year-old, stayed with me for life, and it’s basically the same with your drains. Don’t put anything other than toilet paper down your drain.