Items you should never flush: the culprits of blocked drains


Toilets and plumbing were designed to carry waste away from your home, not to become a secondary garbage bin. With this in mind, there are only three things you should flush down your toilet – the three P’s: pee, poo and paper.

In this day and age, residents are still flushing items which do not break down, which not only wreaks havoc on your drainage system, but can also be harmful to the environment. 


Baby Wipes and cosmetic wipes – yes, even the

“flushable” ones


This year, Ryerson University released a report outlining the flushability of 101 single-use wipes, of which 23 were labelled “flushable” by the manufacturer. 

The staggering results showed not one single wipe disintegrated or safely dispersed through the sewer system test – which means bad news for your household plumbing, municipal sewage infrastructure and the environment.  

Of all the foreign items which can be flushed down the toilet, Gold Coast plumber Nathan Foster rated wipes of any kind as the most damaging.

“Flushable wipes are made from the same material as your baby or disinfectant wipes, so even though they say they are flushable, they still build up over time,” he said. 

 “When we remove them, it is like pulling out one big long towel from your pipe. They clump together and are probably the worst thing you can put down your pipes.”


Paper towel


Paper towel is another item which should never find its way into the toilet bowl, as once flushed, it becomes heavy and difficult for your system to remove. 

“Paper towel is too heavy and it soaks up a lot of water,” professional plumber Nathan said, “it is not light like toilet paper, so it just sinks and the grade in the pipework won’t cater for paper towel to slide down and be removed.”

Although it may seem similar to toilet paper, paper towel does not have the same ability to break down. As such, constantly flushing this material can lead to build ups and blockages which are difficult to remove, leading to a blocked sewer. 


Sanitary items


Sanitary napkins can also wreak havoc on your drains, as they contain superabsorbent polymer, which causes them to expand once in contact with moisture. 

“Once again they become heavy and don’t move down the pipe, they just sit. Once they get stuck or get caught on the end of something, it builds up and festers over time until you have a blockage,” Nathan said.  




Condoms are non-biodegradable, so while it may seem like it is “out of sight, out of mind” for you, these unsanitary objects will soon find their way into public waterways. 

While this is clearly an issue for the environment (and the unsuspecting passer-by), latex also causes problems in the sewer network. Be mindful and take those extra few steps to place condoms into the bin. 


Kitty Litter


While attending Gold Coast blocked drains, the Fosters Plumbing team have had clients enquire about whether it was safe to dispose of kitty litter down the toilet – of which the answer is a resounding no. 

“What happens with kitty litter is that when a cat goes to the toilet, the kitty litter forms a solid mass around the excrement,” Nathan said. 

“So if you put that down the toilet, it is going to work in the same way – it will build up and create a blockage.”


Cooking grease and oil


Cooking grease and oil is often a by-product of your nightly dinner preparations which eventually finds its way down the sink. However, what you may not know is the problems it may cause to your plumbing.

Local plumber Nathan said the issue stems from pouring liquified hot oil or grease into cold water. 

“The hot oil hits the cold water and solidifies, which is what causes a fat blockage,” he said. 

“Fat blockages can become difficult because they get increasingly bigger and build up to the size of the pipe. 

“I have had call outs where the fat comes out like toothpaste. Because they are so hard, they form a crust which you have to break through.”

Nathan said the only way to combat a fat blockage without professional equipment, such as a water jetter, is to break a hole through the fat and run boiling water. 

He has no hesitation in recommending customers to regularly flush their kitchen pipes with boiling water, especially at the same time as disposing of grease/oils down the drain, as it may help to keep plumbing emergencies at bay. 

Alternatively, wait for the oil to cool and throw it into the garbage with paper towels or other absorbent materials. 




Hair differs from the other foreign objects on our list, as it is not always a conscious decision to dispose of hair through your homes drainage. 

You cannot stop your hair from making its way down the shower drain, because it is a natural and somewhat unavoidable part of life.

However, hair can still be disruptive to your pipes as strands may get caught and in turn catch more strands or other items over time.

“After a month or six months, the problem compounds to get bigger and bigger and suddenly it is like the pipe has grown a head of hair.”


Resolve your blockage problems with help from our

expert team


Fosters Plumbing provides a complete range of plumbing service in the Gold Coast area, from blocked drains to water leaks and burst pipes to gas fitting.

Having seen it all before, Fosters Gold Coast Emergency Plumbers pride themselves on their fast turn around and extensive knowledge of plumbing maintenance. 

Our highly recommended team loves the challenge of identifying the problem and providing the most cost-effective solution.
If you have noticed any of the tell-tale signs pointing to a blocked drain, which can also be the result of tree roots, broken pipes and water flow issues, call our team today on 0415 169 603.