Can You Flush Tampons Down the Toilet

Can You Flush Tampons Down the Toilet? Here’s What You Need to Know

Because of how small and thin they appear, it may seem fine to flush your tampons. Leaving them wrapped carefully in the trash can be annoying and embarrassing, so flushing them down the toilet can seem like a quick and clean solution. But is this the correct thing to do?

You cannot flush tampons down the toilet. Plumbing systems cannot handle flushed tampons, and many are not biodegradable. Since they can expand when wet, they can block the sewer pipes. So, you should avoid flushing them at all costs. 

In this article, we’ll talk more about flushing tampons and how you can safely dispose of them. 

Will Tampons Clog a Toilet?

Tampons will clog your toilet if you flush them, as most aren’t biodegradable. You shouldn’t even flush biodegradable tampons as they take a long time to break down and can still damage your toilet or pipes. 

Even if you don’t notice a clog immediately after flushing a tampon, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. 

Tampons expand as they absorb water making them more likely to block waste that you flush down the toilet later. If you flush your tampon, you may not even realize it’s causing repeated issues. 

A flushed tampon can get stuck in your pipes and prevent future waste from exiting the pipe. 

If this happens, it may take time for you to realize something is wrong. Even a slight blockage caused by a tampon can build over time as it expands in water and other waste makes contact with it. 

So, it’s a bad idea to flush a tampon as it’s likely to clog your toilet or cause problems further down the line. This is especially true when flushing multiple tampons over time. If one gets stuck in a pipe, sending another down later can create an even larger blockage. 

The more you add, the more difficult it may be to clear the blockage. 

Flushing a tampon is similar to flushing a paper towel down the toilet, as they pose the same risk as they do not dissolve like toilet paper. Instead, they sit in the pipes like tampons and can easily clog your toilet. 

If you want more information about why you shouldn’t flush paper towels, check out our article here for helpful information. 

How To Dispose Of a Tampon

If you’re used to flushing tampons, you may not know how to dispose of them without clogging your toilet

Thankfully, the process is very simple, as you only need to wrap your tampon in toilet paper and throw it away in a nearby garbage can. This is the safest way to dispose of a tampon without clogging your toilet or making a mess. 

If your bathroom doesn’t have a trash can, you need to consider a different option. 

Wrap your tampon in toilet paper and seek out a trash can outside the bathroom to dispose of your tampon. Of course, most bathrooms have a trash can for your convenience, but not everyone is as thoughtful regarding guests’ needs. 

If you’re in a public restroom, you have probably seen the small metal trash cans in each stall, which usually has a plastic or paper bag lining for the disposal of sanitary products, as owners of these restrooms also know the risks of flushing those products. 

So, take advantage of those trash cans and dispose of your tampons properly. 

Another option might be to buy disposal bags that seal so you can dispose of them when possible, especially if you’re out camping. You don’t want to leave your tampons in the woods, as this is an environmentally toxic issue. 

Amazon sells self-sealing tampon disposal bags like these Sanitary Napkin Disposal bags. There are 200 in the package, and they are opaque, which can hide the contents so that no one needs to know what’s in there. You can also seal them, so in case you need to wait a while to dispose of them, they won’t fall out. 

What Should You Do If You Flush a Tampon?

If you already flushed a tampon, there are some things you can do to make sure you did not clog your toilet and are in the clear. So, let’s talk about how to minimize the damage flushing a tampon can cause. 

Watch For Signs Of Clogging

Flushing a tampon can likely cause a clog, but it won’t happen every time. So, if you did it by accident, you should look for signs of clogging your toilet to stay on top of any potential plumbing issues. 

Listen for gurgling sounds, which often happens with clogged toilets as the water attempts to pass through the blockage. You’ll hear this sound deeper into the toilet pipes, so you may have to listen carefully. 

Alternatively, you may experience a clog if you smell a sour scent in your bathroom. This is a sign that sewage is backing up in your pipes, which might be difficult to notice initially as it will build gradually over time with use. 

However, it is indicative of a large blockage problem. 

A more obvious sign that your tampon clogged your toilet is water overflowing the toilet bowl. This happens when there is a complete blockage and water cannot travel through the pipes as it normally does. 

If this happens, don’t continue attempting to flush the toilet, as this may flood your bathroom. 

What To Do If Your Toilet Overflows

If your toilet begins to overflow due to a flushed tampon, you must act quickly to prevent flooding. Don’t flush the toilet again, as this causes the bowl to fill with even more water, which can flood your bathroom. 

To fix this temporarily until you can resolve the main problem, turn off the water valve on your toilet. Most of the time, this valve on the pipe leads through the wall behind your toilet and will stop the water flow to your toilet tank, no longer allowing it to fill up and overflow your toilet even more. 

Fixing a Tampon Clog

A toilet clogged from a flushed tampon is different from an ordinary clog. 

With most clogs, the goal is to push the waste further down the pipe, clearing it. However, you shouldn’t plunge the toilet if there’s a tampon clog, as this pushes the tampon further down into the pipe, making it a more expensive fix if it gets stuck. 

Instead, you should focus on extracting the tampon by pulling it back into the toilet. 

To do this, make sure the toilet water valve is shut off and empty the toilet bowl as well as you can. You should do this by hand as the water won’t go down into the pipe as it should. 

Once you have the toilet bowl as empty as you can, follow these steps to recover the tampon: 

  1. Use a drain snake down the toilet bowl drain. 
  2. Once you feel resistance, this is the clog.
  3. To pull the tampon out of the pipe, twist the drain snake around to catch the tampon fabric. 
  4. Pull the tampon out slowly to make sure you don’t lose it. 
  5. From here, dispose of the tampon properly, and any remaining water should begin to drain. 
  6. Turn the water back on, giving the tank time to refill. 
  7. Once the tank is full again, flush the toilet to ensure no obstructions are left. 

If this doesn’t work, remove the toilet bowl by unscrewing the bolts, attaching it to the floor, and reaching down the pipe with a gloved hand, which might allow you to reach the tampon better. Just be careful that you do not accidentally push it down further. 

If neither option for extracting the tampon works, you should contact a plumber. 

If there is any part of these steps you’re uncomfortable with, a plumber can help you clear up any issues. Refrain from using the toilet if there is already a clog, as anything you flush can make the clog a lot worse than it already is. 

Can You Flush Pads Down the Toilet?

Much like tampons, you shouldn’t flush pads down the toilet, which can cause the same problems as flushing a tampon or a paper towel down the toilet. You should avoid flushing anything that is not toilet paper or waste down the toilet to help prevent potential clogs. 

Pads are made of absorbent material, like paper towels. 

So, flushing them is not something you can do safely without causing major plumbing issues. They may even be more harmful to your toilet and pipes than a tampon, as pads come in many different sizes and consist of tough material. 

Final Thoughts

You should never flush a tampon down the toilet. While it can be difficult to determine what is and is not okay to flush, you should always be cautious with flushing any material that is not toilet paper.

Tampons are very absorbent and will expand as they soak up water. 

Because of this, they are likely to cause blockages the longer they sit submerged, meaning that you may not even notice the problem right away. So, never flush your tampons. 

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