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Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Suite 1000, Portland, OR 97204

Don't Flush This

When you use your toilet, shower, washing machine or dishwasher, wastewater leaves your home through pipes that connect to the city sewer system. 

Many materials frequently flushed or poured down the drain can harm the pipes that connect to city sewers as well as the city sewer system. Every property owner connected to the city sewer system can be a potential contributor to sewer problems, and a potential victim of those problems. 

Putting the wrong things down the drain can damage the sewer system, cause sewer backups in your home, and sewer releases to the environment. Anyone who uses the city sewer system should be responsible for what they flush or pour down drains.

This video shows a graphic example of what happens when people flush the wrong things.

Want More Evidence?

For more information and to see some research on this topic, watch this video from the Water Environment Federation.

Don't Flush This

Basically, the only thing you should ever flush down a toilet is human waste (urine and feces) and toilet paper. Here is a list of some things to keep out of the toilet. 

  • disposable diapers
  • tampons and tampon applicators
  • sanitary napkins
  • cotton balls and swabs
  • mini or maxi pads
  • condoms
  • cleaning wipes of any kind
  • facial tissue
  • bandages and bandage wrappings
  • Automotive fluids
  • Paint, solvents, sealants and thinners
  • Poisons and hazardous waste

Unused Medications

Do not flush unusued medications down the toilet. You can safely dispose of medications in the garbage, or take medications to an approved prescription drug take-back site or event. 

Get Food and Drug Administration guidance on disposing of unwanted medications. 

See a list of free prescription drug take-back sites in Oregon. 

Get information about drug take-back programs approved by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG)

Grease in sewer pipes causes sewer maintenance problems for property owners and the city. Never pour grease in your sink drain and try to use your garbage disposal less.