Woman contemplating feminine hygiene products.

Each month, an estimated 1.8 billion people around the world menstruate. In 2018 alone, Canada saw more than 17 billion tampons sold. For many, once these product have served their purpose, the question becomes to flush? Or to throw away?

If you ask a plumber or anyone in the sewer industry, they will answer, without hesitation, that it is simple: you absolutely never flush a tampon down the toilet. 

Surely it can’t be all that terrible. What harm could it do? Why is flushing feminine hygiene products bad?

“There are quite a few reasons why it’s a bad idea to flush a tampon,” says Phil Groves. “One of the main reasons is that septic systems and sewers just aren’t equipped to handle them.” 

Tampons are created to absorb liquid. Toilet paper is designed to break up when you flush it, but tampons grow. They can quite easily plug a sewer line – especially if you don’t have your sewers maintenanced regularly to ensure there aren’t any build ups or bellies in the pipes. Tampons can easily snag in a pipe and serve as a base on which even more debris accumulates. Even if a tampon is not large enough itself to cause a total blockage, it doesn’t take long for enough non-biodegradable solids (like other tampons or wet wipes). fats, oils and grease to accumulate and cause a backup.

Even once they make their way outside of a house or building, tampons can still wreak havoc on a septic system or in a city’s sewers, even resulting in wastewater overflow. Most of the time, tampons are filtered out at sewage treatment plants and make their way to a landfill. However, some still find their way into lakes and oceans. And, in septic systems, tampons can quickly fill up a system and decrease efficiency. This results in a need to pump the system more frequently.

So what’s the best way to get rid of a tampon? The answer is to simply wrap it in some toilet paper and throw it in the trash. And, when it comes to flushing things down the toilet, do yourself a favour and stick to the three Ps: poop, pee and (toilet) paper. You’ll save yourself an entirely avoidable headache. “We’re always happy to come out and fix any issues a customer is experiencing, but this is one area where they can easily avoid the problem in the first place,” says Phil. 

If you have more questions about why flushing feminine hygiene products is bad or would like to learn more about the services we provide to remove a blockages caused by flushing these products, contact our office today.

If you have any other topics you’d like answered in our Can I Flush This? series, email them to info@philgroves.com