James's Cabinet Fiasco

Things You Should Never Flush Down Into Your Septic System--And What You Should Do With Them Instead

Your septic system relies on a delicate balance of waste water, scum, solids and helpful bacteria in order to function properly. When the solids build up too quickly or when the bacteria is killed in the tank, your septic system can malfunction. This balance can be disrupted when the wrong things are flushed down your household toilets and sink drains. The following items should never be flushed down your septic tank.


Old medications can kill helpful bacteria in your septic tank. Rather than flushing your medications, contact your community's health department to find out where the nearest medication disposal center is located. 

Food Scraps

Food scraps can clog your pipes and unnecessarily contribute to a fast buildup of solids in your septic system. To dispose of solid food on your property, start a compost pile in your back yard. 

Hazardous Chemicals

You may be tempted to flush a variety of hazardous household chemicals including gasoline, paint thinner and cleaning products down into your septic tank. Depending on the product, these chemicals can kill helpful bacteria, corrode your pipes and contaminate your ground water. Contact your community's sanitation department to find out where the nearest hazardous chemical recycling or disposal center is located. 

Additives that Contain Sulfuric Acid

Septic additives are products that are marketed to improve the efficiency of your septic system. Never flush an additive that includes sulfuric acid or similar caustic chemicals. Sulfuric acid can do damage to your pipes and your septic tank. Sulfuric acid also kills important microbes in your septic tank. 

Products Labeled as "Flushable"

The only truly flushable product on the market today is toilet paper. However, there are a variety of other products that may be marketed as flushable. These items include:

  • Tampons
  • Kitty litter
  • Adult/baby wipes
  • Diaper liners
  • Dental floss

All of these items can clog your pipes. Of those items that successfully make it to your septic system, large items can take a very long time to break down and smaller items can find their way into your septic system's leachfield. 

Fish and other Small Pets

Unfortunately, your septic tank is not an appropriate final resting place for pets. Depending on your area's laws, you may be allowed to bury your pet in your yard, if you own the property. If laws in your community forbid pet burial on private land, contact a veterinarian to find out about pet cremation or pet cemeteries in your area. 

For more information about what you should and should not flush down into your septic tank, seek advice from the expert from a company like Hemley's Septic Tank Cleaning during your next septic tank cleaning.