Should You Flush a Tampon Down the Toilet?
Is it okay to flush a tampon down the toilet? It’s a question you may have been thinking about while packing one up and throwing it in the trash instead. Although it can appear harmless (and would theoretically save you a few sheets of toilet paper), flushing your tampon down the toilet is generally not a good idea.
For starters, it’s a possible recipe for plumbing problems. Popular tampon brands such as Lola, Tampax, Kotex and Natracare all note that you should not flush tampons down the toilet as this can result in a clogged or overflowing toilet or a blockage in the plumbing or septic system. Even if you haven’t tackled this problem at home, there’s a chance you’ve seen the unfortunate result of a tampon lump in a public restroom.
It’s not just tampon brands that urge you to throw away your tampons instead of flushing them. As Wasteline, the City of Omaha’s solid waste program, explains: toilet paper can easily degrade when exposed to water, but other items such as tampons, pads, and wipes cannot, increasing your chances of a blockage. As a rule of thumb, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection recommends only flushing what is called “the four Ps“: pee, poop, vomit and toilet paper.
What’s much more going on than uncomfortable plumbing accidents? In an article about the untenability of tampons, National Geographic reported that the menstrual product has the potency pollute the ocean when sewer systems fail.
So how do you properly dispose of a tampon? Allison Rodgers, MD, an ob-gyn based in Chicago, went to TikTok to share her recommended technique, which consists of wrap the used tampon in toilet paper and put it in a trash can.
According to Tampax, the wrapper and applicator should also be disposed of in the trash. While many tampon applicators are plastic, they are not considered recyclable because they have been in contact with blood.
If you want to minimize your plastic consumption and waste, consider switching to a tampon brand that uses biodegradable applicators or opt for a reusable period product such as menstrual underwear or a menstrual cup. Don’t flush those either!