Menstrual Products

Q&A: Some people think that tampons will clog your toilet if you flush them. I don't believe it, but I'd like to be sure. Can flushing tampons be dangerous?

In the words of a very wise plumber who once fixed my toilet when it was clogged: “There is nothing worse for your pipes than a tampon. Don’t flush ‘em – ever.” So while I don’t pretend to be a plumbing expert, I do know there is nothing I like less than having to deal with a backed-up, overflowing toilet. And while I wish I could just flush tampons away, it is easy enough to wrap them in toilet paper and throw them in the trash. I suggest you do the same – and promise you that whoever owns the toilet you’re using will appreciate it!

I’m always amazed when I walk into an office building or a high school and see that all-too-common sign instructing women to use the trash receptacle instead flushing sanitary products. I guess I assume everyone’s mother or plumber told them flushing is bad for plumbing, but apparently each new generation needs to be reminded. Plumbing systems — old or new — are not equipped for an onslaught of extremely absorbent materials. In my office building — which is over 60 years old — we’ve frequently had issues with the plumbing, and every single time a plumber comes in to fix it, he (yes, it’s always a guy) has to uncomfortably explain that the problem was due to a wadded mass of tampons. So, save the horror of a backup or the expense of a plumber and simply avoid flushing them entirely.

Toilets and plumbing systems are mysterious beasts, and many people don't think much about what happens to the things they flush. But plumbers and the people who run city sewer systems are pretty clear on this: we really shouldn't be flushing tampons. So it's best to throw your tampon in the garbage (pro tip: get one with a lid or keep the bathroom door closed if you have a curious dog!) instead of flushing it.