Can you flush tampons?

Posted on August 13th, by The Period Blog in FAQ, Period Tips, Tampons. 31 comments

Lots of girls have been asking about this issue especially after this story about a girl’s tampon not flushing was posted.

On some tampon inserts you’ll probably see that it says it is in fact safe to flush used tampons but for homeowners and public washrooms, this is clearly not the case.

Tampons don’t break up in water. They’re made of cotton, rayon, and other fibers and these materials aren’t going to disintegrate in water like toilet paper. Toilet paper is safe to flush because it easily breaks up in water and won’t clog your toilet.

Can I flush my tampon if I have a septic tank?

Okay, I’m no expert at plumbing but I did my own little research for this question and the answer is no.

Tampons don’t biodegrade in septic tanks. They just accumulate at the bottom and can attribute to septic tank problems… which of course can be very expensive to fix.

I don’t have a septic tank. I’ve flushed my tampon before and it went down okay. So it’s fine right?

If you’re going to flush a tampon, chances are, it will go through a properly functioning sewage system.

But there is a good chance that in the course of traveling through the pipes, your tampons can get caught or lodged in the pipes before they ever reach the sewer.Then your toilet will get backed up and you’ll have to call a plumber. This can be a very very expensive fix.

You will then find out that you basically just paid your plumber to tell you to don’t flush your tampons… so I will tell you for free: Don’t flush your tampons!

Okay… so what should I do instead?

Properly dispose of the applicator and used tampon in the trash bin or feminine hygiene disposal bin in your stall.

If you can’t fit your used tampon back inside the wrapper, wrap it up in toilet paper first. If you’re in a public washroom, please remember that someone else is cleaning up after you. Be respectful and dispose of your used tampons properly.

If you’re looking for tampons with resealable wrappers for disposal, try the Tampax Radiant tampons.

TL;DR: No, you shouldn’t flush tampons.

Personally, I don’t flush tampons and never have. It’s pretty easy to just wrap it up and throw it away with my applicator.

Do you flush your tampons?


31 thoughts on “Can you flush tampons?

  1. Just to add…

    As you say tampons are made from cotton, rayon and other fibres so do not break-down in the toilet as toilet paper does, in fact they expand. This means not only do you risk blocking your own toilet and pipes, but also pipes further up the system – this costs water authorities BILLIONS per year to fix, money they could be better spent elsewhere – plus sone poor soul has the job of going down into the sewers to unclog those used tampons (yuck).

    Tapons may not block any pipes, instead making it through to the sewage treatment plants…great, only even modern processing plants cannot always catch all this debris, as such tampons can find their way into waterways and in turn washed up on beaches (double yuck)

    Tampon copnies say their tampons are flushable to seem more convenient – they are self-regulated so make their own rules, in this case the industry standard is that to be considered flushable the tampon must pass the Brunelle Flushability test. This test is done within a laboratory with a brand new modern toilet, if the tampon passes the u bend it can be called ‘flushable’…even if it won’t flush in all toilets, all systems, or the huge amount of damage it can do urther up the system or to the environment.

    Womens Environmental Network has a good briefing on this –

  2. This is honestly the first I’ve ever heard that it is unsafe to flush tampons in non-septic tank systems. Interesting, especially since I have a plumber in the family. This makes is even more awkward too, seeing as we don’t have any waste baskets (or room for any) in our bathroom and the nearest one is on the other side of the house.

  3. Since it is unsafe to Flush your Tampon. Knowing that it could cause problems to your septic tank and toilet. What is the safest way to dispose of a used Tampon?

  4. I think just to throw it in a bin trust me I am no expert, i often put mine in the toilet and nothing happens but just to be sure I will start putting it in the bin thanks

  5. I save envelopes from junk mail and use them to wrap used feminine products. I always keep a stack of envelopes next to the pads/tampons inside the bathroom cabinet.

  6. Had sewage flowing up from my drains this morning; Low and behold, there were many many tampons. I have the feeling one of the neighbors in the rental unit is flushing them and no doubt contributing to the problem.

    • Yup… flushing tampons doesn’t cause problems immediately but it definitely builds up to a very expensive problem down the road! Good luck!

  7. I always flushed tampons down the toilet. My mom did it and got me doing it. The thing is my toilet clogged a few days ago. The maintenance guy in my building told me not to throw them in the toilet. That’s the first I heard of it. Now I can’t throw them in the toilet, not even the ones that are fully saturated.

    • Thank you!! Lots of girls will insist that it is okay but the problems don’t arise immediately. They build up with each tampon you flush and by that time it is very very expensive to fix this problem!

  8. I have a septic. How do I tell my daughters friends or any company that may be over to not flush tampons down the toilet? Without embarrassing anyone!

    • Just put up a sign or provide them with a waste bin with a lid. Some of my guy friend’s parents put up signs too!

      Good luck :)!

  9. Pingback: Tampon Problems. Is this normal? | AskSth

  10. I’ve been flushing them for years with no problem…but NEVER AGAIN! The plumber has been here for over an hour trying to fix the pipes. OH! The humiliation of having him show me a handful of used tampons he just pulled out with the snake. Apparently there are more. He needs to go on the roof with the jumbo snake now. It’s going to cost a small fortune. Guess I will need to buy a little trashcan with a lid. I should send the tampon company the bill! I never would have been flushing them if I hadn’t read that it was ok. I never flushed the applicators because it said not to.

  11. I agree with enigmagirl–I always flushed them, for years, because I heard they’re biodegradable!!! This summer, we had sewage coming out of our thing in the yard, and flowing down the street. The plumber came and worked for hours….we had lots of tree roots that caused a lot of the problem, but the plumber first pulled tons of old tampons out, and said “never flush these!!!” So….after a $350 plumbing bill, I never will flush them again!!! :(

    • Well, the plumber charged $245 yesterday to snake 60 feet of sewer line. He thought the recovered material was baby wipes (another no-no) which we don’t use, but after drying a bit overnight, clearly they are tampons. To prove that flushing tampons is a bad idea, put a new one in a jar with water and shake it up. You will see that it does not break down. Now, I am searching the internet to learn how to dissolve any remnants before they dislodge and clog us again.

      • Thanks for sharing Tom! You’re completely right on this one! Tampons aren’t meant to break up in water, they’re meant to expand and absorb!

  12. Me too, just dropped $311 for a plumber to come out and clear out the line from my house to the septic tank. he said it was completely clogged with tampons.

  13. I also have been flushing them for over 20 years, and never had a stuffed bowl. I think it is pretty gross to have to wrap a tampon, thus the reason for using them vs. pads. My husband is a plumber, and agrees it is fine to flush them.

    • THANK YOU for this reply!! I’m 46 and have been ‘flushing’ since I ‘started’ (–I’ve had a hysterectomy now so I’m done). I have two teen aged daughters now and a BRAND NEW HOUSE. It came with a “grinder” in the basement. After 6 yrs, it had to be replaced at FULL cost (–all other neighbors in the neighborhood have had problems too.) Now, 4 months later, it broke again and they’re telling me THIS time, it’s tampons!! I’ve lived all over the world (Military) and have had some pretty old plumbing(–MOSTLY in base housing), and I’ve NEVER had problems till NOW. Also, let’s be technical: some STOOLS are more dense than a ‘fully engorged’ tampon and I’m pretty sure THEY can clog up bad pipes!! What do they suggest THEN?–wrapping up dense stools and throwing THEM away??!! I don’t think so! I think those plumbers who have the “don’t flush” rule are just complaining because it’s a FEMALE product so they don’t want to have to deal with the issues they cause, with FAULTY PLUMBING SYSTEMS that can’t handle their purpose–which is to carry away WASTE–which INLCUDES TAMPONS.

      • Thank you. We had a pissed off plumber tell our office that these are being flushed and this is not okay. Truth is, they were stuck behind other things already clogged and this guy was just pissed, but this led to a lot of awkward humor. I always read this was okay..

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