Think Before You Flush

Protect the environment: dispose of waste responsibly!

Sewage Blockage

The Region of Durham’s sanitary sewer system is not designed to dispose of anything beyond human waste, toilet paper and wastewater. Any other item, even if it claims to be flushable, should not be flushed down the toilet.

Some items, such as cotton balls, disposable wipes and feminine hygiene products may appear easy to flush down the toilet and forget about, however they can cause the sanitary sewer system to become blocked and should be disposed of in the garbage, rather than flushing down the toilet.

Wipes in your pipes

Wipes from sewage block

Increasingly popular bathroom wipes, which are marketed as an alternative to toilet paper and advertised as flushable, should not be flushed down the toilet. These wipes do not break down the way toilet paper does. They can clump together in the sewer system and cause blockages and backups.

Even if they are labelled as flushable, disposable wipes should be put in the garbage.

The 3 P's of flushing

Toilet with a red circle around it

The only things that should be flushed down toilets are the 3 P's: pee, poo, toilet paper.

Small amounts of soapy water are also acceptable.

The following is a list of items that should not be flushed down the toilet, and how to dispose of them properly:


Green Bin

  • Cat litter
  • Disposable diapers and baby wipes
  • Personal hygiene wipes
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Disposable mopping wipes
  • Cotton balls and pads
  • Food waste
  • Hair
  • Fat, oil and grease

Blue Bin

Local Pharmacy

  • Newspapers
  • Medicine and syringes

Waste Management Facility

  • Paint and solvents
  • Motor oil and anti-freeze

Dont Flush...

Fat, oil and grease disposal

When you cook with fat, oil and grease (FOG) in the kitchen, do not dispose of it down the sink or flush it down the toilet. Although it may be in liquid form when you dispose of it, once it enters the cold sewer system, it solidifies and accumulates inside sewer pipes. When FOG meets other items in the sewer system that should not be flushed (such as rags and wipes), it can form large clumps or balls, causing major sewer clogs. The use of hot water and detergent does not prevent these problems.

Dispose of kitchen FOG in your green bin, or better yet, recycle it! Feed local wildlife by mixing cool fat with bird seeds, nuts and bacon, then hang it in a tree for the birds to enjoy.

The sanitary sewer system

The sanitary sewer is a system of underground pipes that transports sewage from the plumbing of homes and businesses to a water pollution control plant. The sewage is then treated and clean effluent is discharged into local waterways, such as lakes and streams.

When items other than human waste, water and toilet paper are flushed, they can cause flooding in your home or business, as well as blockages and backups in our sewer system, all of which are costly to repair.

Other Resources