7 things you should never put down the toilet

By : Nick Marr

Do you treat your toilet with respect? An odd question perhaps but if you have a cavalier attitude to what goes down the toilet, this may come as a bit of a shock. That said, sometimes the worst (smelling) lessons are the ones that really need to be learnt. So if you’re one of those people who uses their WC as a waste disposal mechanism for all kinds of stuff that’s not meant to be flushed, now is the time to sit up and take notice.

Did you know that rubbish can cause unnecessary harm to the waterways and oceans that are the ultimate receptacle for our sewage? What’s more, your waste may not even get very far. That’s right – some things should never be put down the loo unless you have a plumber on speed dial to unblock your drains.

Here are the main offenders.  

Grease, fats and oils

Pour kitchen grease down the loo and what happens? As the fat cools, it congeals into a hardened sticky substance, so-called fatbergs that cling to the inside of the pipes. Culprits include melted bacon fat, ice cream, butter, mayonnaise, cooking oil, meat trimmings or even gravy – and it’s even worse when it’s mixed with loo paper or other debris. Blocked drains guaranteed.

Instead, pour the fat into a jar or other container, chill in the fridge and place it in the household bin. Larger quantities of used cooking oil can be recycled.


Long hair can be beautiful but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that hair in your plumbing is like having a giant fishing net in position that traps everything in its way. The result is the formation of a giant hairball that clogs toilet plumbing, drains and sewers.

Instead of putting hair from hair brushes, shower traps and sink drains down the loo, catch it and put it in the bin. Fit hair traps or strainers to all your tubs, showers and drains and clean them regularly to minimise the problem.

Paper Products

While toilet paper is specially designed to break down when it gets wet, you may not realise that other types of paper are not. Paper towels, tissues, sanitary products, nappies, cotton wool pads – the absorbency that makes these paper products fit for their intended purpose will cause problems when you try to flush them down the loo. Regardless of whether or not they’re biodegradable, they’re highly likely to cause a blockage.

Instead, bin them or recycle/compost where possible. Try to find alternatives such as cloth towels or terry nappies to reduce the problem.

Moist Toilet Wipes

It doesn’t matter whether or not these wet wipes are marketed as ‘flushable’ or indeed if they’re meant for babies or adults. Flushing them down the toilet creates clogs and back-ups in sewer systems everywhere. Unlike traditional toilet paper, these wipes do not disintegrate. When they come into contact with other materials, such as congealed grease or hair, they’ll turn into a superplug that can be hard to shift.

Instead, try to limit your consumption of wet wipes (what’s wrong with traditional toilet paper?) and dispose of them in the rubbish bin.

Food Waste

Many home cooks prefer to get rid of liquid and/or smelly food leftovers down the loo rather than in the kitchen bin – which is OK as long as the items in question are not greasy or lumpy. Solid food waste, whether raw or cooked, will build up over time and cause a blockage in your toilet.

Instead, put your raw vegetable waste into the green bin and scrape cooked food leftovers straight into the garbage.

Coffee Grounds

Contrary to traditional wisdom whereby coffee grounds down the sink or loo were thought to be a good way to keep drains clear, plumbers up and down the country disagree. In fact, coffee grounds are as bad for your drains as grease and fat, and can lead to messy blocked drains.

Instead, why not compost your coffee grounds or use as fertiliser anywhere in your garden?

Cat Litter

You may reasonably assume that a toilet is a toilet, but most cat litter is made from clay and sand and it’s meant to clog when it gets wet. You may as well be pouring cement down the loo. Avoid at all costs.

Instead, empty your cat litter tray into a bin bag and place in the household rubbish. If your cat litter is biodegradable you could use it as a garden fertiliser, but beware of toxins and parasites that can cause toxoplasmosis, and never use cat litter to fertilise your vegetable patch.