Ladies, ladies, ladies… I know this can potentially be a sensitive subject. Hear me out, woman to woman, because I have great advice for you on how to properly manage our feminie hygiene products. Just because a label reads that it’s “flushable” doesn’t always mean that’s the case. This is a weird subject for me to talk and write about, however most ladies don’t know that they shouldn’t actually flush their products down the line. As a woman myself that owns a plumbing company, I’m happy to get uncomfortable for a minute in hopes that this information helps you!
Yes, a feminine item like a tampon can get through your toilet; the concern, however, is what happens after passing through the toilet that you need to be aware of. I can tell you from professional experience that plumbers don’t give a second thought about what they pull back when they are clearing a drain. After we pull back these products from our female client’s main line, I commonly hear how embarrassed they are. I want to save you from dying of embarrassment; we pull back feminine products daily that create stoppages in these main lines. Other big culprits include baby wipes, makeup remover wipes, and even paper towels. Most of us don’t think a second thought about something we flush, it goes down and doesn’t seem to come back up– so we’re free to go on about our business, right? Not necessarily, but it’s universally understood that our time of the month is inconvenient, messy, and unenjoyable– the last thing we want to be concerned with is the flushing of our feminine products.
Why shouldn’t we flush feminine products even though manufacturers say we can? Well, the manufacturer is right– their product is flushable and will go through the toilet. What the manufacturer doesn’t take into consideration is the condition of your drain and sewer lines. A new sewer line has a perfect grade with a smooth pipe that is mathematically lined to flow perfectly, not too fast and not too slow, to take solids and fluids out to the city sewer system or your septic system. Sewer lines, unlike wine and ourselves, do not get better with age. Sewer lines decay over time, settle, crack, and may even become textured. Basically, it isn’t a good idea to flush feminine products of any kind!
Feminine products, by design, are absorbent and do not dissolve. This is a bad combination for a sewer line that has settled, has bellies, has roots, or has texture from grease build up or age, and feminine products will inevitably become an issue. The feminine products, along with other things down the line, will eventually settle into the bellies and collect over time; they can stick the sides of your sewer line like velcro. A cast iron line and cement pipes end up having an interior texture like heavy grit sandpaper; they are magnets for items such as wipes and paper towels. Sewer lines made from Orangeburg often lose shape over time and, rather than being round, become an oval-like shape that doesn’t easily allow a large mass to pass through. Clay sewer lines don’t have glued fittings; these lines are often compromised by tree roots that make a net rather than a clear passageway which catches everything, including feminine products like tampons and other materials that don’t instantly dissolve in water.
Your sewer line is typically 3-4” in diameter, so when you consider the build-up of grease, sludge, and other unmentionables your sewer line can quickly diminish to 2” or less in some areas; this makes it hard for bulk feminine products to make it through. Rather than passing through the line, they slowly build up a dam inside your plumbing system which is always a recipe for a stoppage; this stoppage almost always results in us ladies wanting to die of embarrassment, and this is especially true of a household full of younger women. Recently, we had a client whose entire house flooded due to a stoppage from feminine products from their teenage girls. The toilet was running and resulted in a massive flood from upstairs to downstairs.
Our professional recommendation, don’t flush baby wipes, makeup wipes, or feminine products– dispose of these items and similar items in the trash and avoid a potential stoppage!