Defend your drains! Many products don't belong in your drains (meaning your kitchen drain, toilet drain, bathtub drain, or any other household drain). These products range from wipes to dental floss and medicines to cleaning products. Wipes, paper towels, and other items that don't break down in water can clog your pipes, resulting in sewer backups and expensive repairs. Fats, oils, and grease can solidify, which can cause clogs. Putting items such as paint or large amounts of cleaning chemicals down the drain can also damage your pipes and negatively impact our water quality. Defend your drains, defend your pipes, and defend your environment by using proper disposal methods.
Wipes and cleaning cloths, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, and personal care items—these common household items don't break down in the sewer pipes of your home or on the way to the wastewater treatment plant. So what happens when you flush them down the toilet or drain? Since they don't break down, they can tangle and clump together. This can clog pipes and cause sewage to back up into your home or neighborhood. Even items labeled "flushable" can clog sewer pipes. Defend your drains by disposing of these products in the trash (where they belong) before they cause unpleasant and expensive problems.
Wipes and cleaning cloths are designed to be stronger than facial tissue or toilet tissue, so they don't break down in water. This includes baby wipes, bathroom wipes, facial or cosmetic wipes, personal hygiene wipes, disinfecting wipes, floor cleaning or dusting wipes, and toilet bowl scrub pads. Even products labeled "flushable" can clog your sewer line because their plastic fibers don't break down quickly.
Defend Your Drains: Wipes should always be thrown into the trash.
Paper towels are designed to be absorbent and strong, and specifically to not break down in water. They are not intended to be flushed down the toilet.
Defend Your Drains: Throw used paper towels in the trash – or switch to cloth, which can be washed and reused.
Feminine hygiene products, such as sanitary napkins and tampons, are made of fibers like cotton and rayon. They are designed to absorb liquids instead of breaking down like toilet paper. Flushing these products can easily result in a clogged sewer line.
Defend Your Drains: Wrap used products in toilet tissue, then put them in the trash.
While it's possible to flush things like dental floss, hair, cotton swabs, cotton balls, and condoms down the toilet, it's a bad idea. These items do not break down in water, and they can tangle with other items and block your sewer line. Just because something is used or dirty doesn't mean it should go down the toilet.
Defend Your Drains: Toss these items in the trash.
Medicines. Large amounts of cleaning products. Paint and pesticides. Fats, oils, and grease. While all these things shouldn't go down the drain, they also shouldn't be put in the trash. Why? Some of these products can pose a hazard to water quality, and others can be turned into something beneficial. Defend your drains by disposing of these products as described to help prevent plumbing problems and to protect the quality of our lakes, rivers, and streams.
Check out this map to find your nearest household hazardous waste collection center or grease drop-off location.
Find out more about your city's collection services.
Fats, oils, and grease will harden in your pipes or the city sewer lines. This could cause a sewer backup in either your home or neighborhood. Fats, oils, and grease come from meats, butter, lard, food scraps, sauces, dressings, dairy products, and cooking oil. And, yes, gravy can cause problems too. Even hot, soapy water won't move these substances very far through the pipes before they start to solidify.
Defend Your Drains:
If you put medicines such as prescription pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications (for example, antibiotics, antidepressants, vitamins, cough syrup, or pain medications) down the drain or into the toilet, they end up in the water supply because water treatment processes can't completely remove them.
Defend Your Drains:
While it's OK for small amounts of household chemicals to go down the drain – no more than about a cup – large amounts of these chemicals should not be disposed by way of your household plumbing. Bleach, disinfectants, and other household cleaners are difficult to extract from water, and chemicals can be harmful to workers and the environment.
Defend Your Drains: When getting rid of these products, take them to a hazardous waste collection center for proper disposal. (Check with your city to find out if they offer other services, such as curbside pickup.)
Leftover paint, insecticides, herbicides, fertilizer, and paint remover can be hazardous, and they should not be disposed of by way of your household plumbing. These chemicals are difficult and expensive to remove from the water and could damage your home.
Defend Your Drains:
This website highlights the most common products that cause plumbing problems, but a product not listed may still cause problems. Not sure how to dispose of something? Consult your city.
The Defend Your Drains North Texas campaign is an educational effort that encourages residents to properly dispose of items that can harm a home's plumbing system, the region's wastewater treatment systems, and water quality. It is supported by the Wastewater And Treatment Education Roundtable (WATER), an educational partnership between the North Central Texas Council of Governments, municipalities, and water utilities in the North Texas region. Special thanks to Dallas Water Utilities for sharing the Defend Your Drains campaign with the North Texas region.
The Wastewater And Treatment Education Roundtable is a program of the North Central Texas Council of Governments.