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Sinks and Toilets are NOT Trash Cans: How to Properly Dispose of Waste

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

My grandmother used to say, anything can go down the drain with enough water...but should anything, really be anything?

Managing properties, and learning about the care, maintenance, and replacement of pipes, I quickly learned as emergency calls started occurring, that not everything can be flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink. Moreover, as some communities were responsible for pipe maintenance and replacement, what is flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink can easily create a significant (and often unbudgeted) expense for the Community Association. As a homeowner, I quickly took notes, because I didn't want to create damage to my own plumbing, either.

What Do People Flush that Create Problems?

Female products have always created an issue while flushing and need to be properly disposed of in the trash. One of my first plumbers used to say that tampons were his greatest friend: People flush. Clogs happen. He gets called.

Diapers are more confusing. I never understood why a person would flush a diaper down a toilet. High powered toilets can pull and flush almost anything - which is one of many reasons that retail, commercial, and public community bathrooms are switching to low flow and low volume toilets. Low flow and low volume toilets reduce the water volume being used while flushing, and the chance of creating a large clog.

Paper towels are another culprit. This is more noticeable in a public area bathroom at a theme park, retail facility, or restaurant have an overflowing trash can. They are often a cause for problems in a common area community room that is being rented for a party by a resident, as well. Many facilities are replacing paper towel dispensers with hand dryers to help reduce the waste of paper product and the amount of clogging that occurs.

So, What Can Be Flushed?

Believe it or not, this is pretty simple. Two items should be flushed:

- Human Waste

- Toilet Paper

Everything else needs to be placed into the trash can for proper disposal.

So What About the Sink?

Garbage disposals are not your friend, and are often discouraged by Community Associations and local municipalities. Having a garbage disposal indicates to a person that you can place things down the drain that are not intended for your pipes or the waste water lines. I remember my first, and last gargabe disposal. I thought potato peels would grind up if I used enough water and flush down the drain. Instead, I clogged 150' of plumbing....

When possible, avoid garbage disposal usage and installation.

Things You Should Never Rinse Down a Sink:

If the item you are disposing of is a solid, or semi-solid at room temperature, you should throw it in the trash instead of pouring it down the sink.

Need to add water to it to get it to go down the sink? Stop, and scrape it into the trash instead.

These items should never be rinsed down your drain:

- coffee grounds

- meats and poultry

- eggs or egg shells

- pasta, grains, bread

- cooking oil

- grease

- fats

- mayonnaise

- salad dressings

- ice cream

- candy, including gum

- food residue (Scrape into the trash!)

- hair

- napkins and paper towels

- wipes (even if they say flushable - don't flush!)

- cat litter (flushable, isn't!)

- first aid supplies (band-aids, gloves, q-tips)

- chemicals and toxins

- anything that says it is flushable, don't flush, unless it is toilet paper or human waste.

Helpful Tips to Reduce Clogs:

- Only flush toilet paper and human waste down a toilet.

- Use enough soap for cleaning only; too much soap isn't good for the drains.

- Install mesh drain covers in the sink and showers to help catch food particles and hair. (Clean these mesh drain covers at least once a week).

- Instead of a garbage disposal, see if your community would sponsor a compost bin!

- Educate family members on what to flush and rinse down the drain, and the damages to the house, community, and environment for failing to do so.

- Remember that your drains and toilet are not a trash can. Place trash in the trash.


Bricck Property Management is a boutique property management firm, offering best-in-class property management services to Condominiums, Homeowner's Associations, Planned Communities, Active Adult Communities, Lifestyle Communities, Apartments (Multi-Family living), and Offices.

We are located in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and serve the Greater Philadelphia Area, Delaware Valley Region, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Contact us today for a proposal for your property management needs.

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