Most people realize that a child cannot flush a toy dinosaur down the toilet, but there are many more seemingly innocent items that regularly get flushed into a home's septic system that, in reality, can do extreme damage. In fact, the city of Portland, Oregon stresses that the only thing that should be flushed is "human waste (urine and feces)."
1. Cigarette Butts: The filter on most cigarettes is not biodegradable. In fact, they will sit in your plumbing lines and can potentially clog your septic system. While you should have your system checked annually and pumped every three years or so, there is no need for an additional service call just for cigarette butts. Throw them out in your regular trash instead.
2. Flushable Wipes: Disposable wipes are everywhere. It is important to note that, no matter what the marketing on the package states, wipes are not flushable. Diaper wipes, glass wipes, and bleach wipes are never meant to be disposed of this way, and frequently clog the lines at both municipal water treatment plants as well as home septic systems.
3. Personal Hygiene Products: Tampons, condoms and maxi pads are regularly flushed, yet should never be disposed of in this manner. The problem is two-fold. The size and shape of these items can quickly block the plumbing lines leading to a home's septic system, and they are not biodegradable, meaning they will have to be manually removed from your septic tank at a future date. Simply disposing of personal hygiene items in your home's trash is a much better solution.
4. Prescription Medicine: While dumping an unused portion of medicine seems likes the responsible thing to do, it is not. In fact, your attempt to keep prescription drugs out of unwanted hands may actually lead to more people ingesting it. The problem lies in how your septic system works. Basically, the liquid waste is repeatedly filtered until it is eventually discharged back into the groundwater supply. While the liquid that is returned is safe, modern technology still does not have a way to filter that medicine out, which can eventually affect plants, aquatic life, and people. Scientific American states that municipal plants can only filter about half, but your septic system can't even claim to filter that much.
5. Diapers: Yes. Disposable diapers are disposable. That does not, however, translate to flushable. Please do not even try to flush a disposable diaper. The mess, and ensuing clog, would be almost instantaneous. Talk to experts like Rhode Island Septic Service for more information.