Can I dump tampon in toilet?

Quick Answer

It is generally not recommended to flush tampons down the toilet. Most manufacturers advise against flushing tampons because they do not break down easily and can clog pipes. However, some modern tampons that are specifically designed to be flushable may be okay to flush in small quantities. The best practice is to wrap used tampons in toilet paper and dispose of them in a trash can.

Can You Flush Tampons Down the Toilet?

Many people wonder if it is okay to flush tampons down the toilet. The short answer is no. Flushing tampons is not recommended and can cause plumbing issues in your home’s sewer or septic system.

Most tampon manufacturers advise against flushing their products. Tampons are designed to absorb fluid and expand in size. When flushed, they do not dissolve easily like toilet paper and can get stuck in pipes.

Over time, flushing tampons can cause a range of problems:

  • They can snag on pipes or get caught in drainage systems, causing clogs.
  • Build-up of tampons can narrow pipes, restricting water flow.
  • Sewage systems can get backed up, leading to flooding.
  • Toxic shock syndrome bacteria on used tampons can be released into waterways if sewage overflows occur.

For these reasons, most wastewater management organizations strongly discourage flushing tampons or other non-flushable items down toilets.

Are Any Tampons Flushable?

Although conventional tampons should not be flushed, some newer tampon varieties are marketed as flushable. These are typically made with natural fibers that break down more rapidly in water.

A few examples of flushable tampon brands include:

  • Natracare
  • o.b. ProComfort
  • Seventh Generation
  • Tampax Pure
  • Uby Kotex

The tampons are designed to dissolve in water within a few hours, compared to regular tampons that can take days or weeks to break down.

While these flushable tampons may reduce the risk of clogs, it is still best to avoid flushing more than 1-2 at a time. Flushing too many, even if they are flushable, can overwhelm home plumbing or septic systems.

Why You Should Not Flush Tampons

There are a few key reasons why flushing tampons is problematic:

They Don’t Break Down Easily

Tampons are typically made of materials like rayon, cotton, or a blend of both. These materials do not disintegrate rapidly in water. Cotton may break down faster than rayon but can still take several weeks to decompose.

When flushed down the toilet, tampons maintain their shape and size. They can easily snag on small gaps or imperfections in pipes.

They Can Clog Pipes

The expansion of tampons when wet and their resistance to decomposition means they can get lodged in household drainage pipes. Over time, repeatedly flushing tampons down your toilet can cause major clogs.

Clogs may happen in the toilet itself, downstream in main sewer lines, or at the connection to the municipal sewage system. Tree roots growing into pipes can also catch tampons and cause backup.

Partial clogs can limit water flow and drainage. Complete blockages can lead to sewage backing up into your home, which will require expensive plumbing repairs.

They Strain Wastewater Treatment Systems

Any solids that get through home pipes will continue on to municipal wastewater treatment plants. These facilities are not designed to process solid items like tampons.

Tampons can overburden the screening, filtering, and sedimentation tanks used to clean wastewater. This leads to inefficiency and higher operational costs.

From there, tampons can end up in waterways where they pollute and harm wildlife.

They Contain Toxic Shock Syndrome Bacteria

Used tampons may contain trace amounts of toxic shock syndrome bacteria. This rare but dangerous bacteria is linked to improperly used tampons.

If a used tampon entered waterways, the bacteria could potentially infect others and lead to toxic shock syndrome, although likelihood is extremely low.

Alternatives to Flushing Tampons

Rather than flushing tampons, there are a few easy and discreet ways to dispose of them:

Trash Can

The recommended method is to simply wrap used tampons in toilet paper or their wrapper and toss them in the garbage. This prevents any risk of clogged pipes or plumbing damage.

For odor control, use a small trash can with a tight fitting lid specifically for used feminine products. Take it out frequently.

Tampon Disposal Bags

Small disposable bags designed for used feminine products, similar in concept to dog waste bags, are another handy option. Slip the tampon inside the bag, seal it up, and put it in your wastebasket.

Disposal Bins in Public Restrooms

Many public restrooms provide small disposal bins on the wall inside each toilet stall for tampon and pad disposal while out in public spaces.

Use these bins when needed rather than attempting to flush tampons in public toilets.

Septic Systems and Tampons

Homes on septic systems need to be especially cautious about flushing tampons or other non-flushable items.

Septic tanks are not connected to municipal sewer lines. All wastewater drains into an on-site underground tank where solids settle out. Liquid then drains to a leach field for treatment in the soil.

Flushing tampons into septic systems is problematic because the tampons do not break down and can clog the small pipes, baffles, and pumps used to move wastewater through the system.

Over time, enough accumulation of solids can cause septic system failure. Repairing or replacing a septic system is very costly.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explicitly warns against flushing tampons or non-degradable items into septic systems.

Water and Sewer Pipe Materials

Some homeowners think pipes made from modern plastic materials like PVC are less prone to clogs from flushing tampons. However, this is not the case.

Tampons can get stuck or snagged in any type of drainage pipe material. Common materials used include:

  • Plastic pipes: Including PVC, ABS, and CPVC. Lightweight, durable, and cost-effective. Can have small gaps at joints where tampons get caught.
  • Copper pipes: Smooth interior resists buildup of sludge but joints and elbows can still catch debris. Corrosion prone.
  • Cast iron pipes: Heavy, durable material but seams and joints provide obstructions. Can corrode over time.
  • Concrete or clay pipes: Used in some municipal sewer mains but vulnerable to roots entering through cracks.

Tampons can clog any of these pipe types. The composition of the pipes themselves makes little difference on tampon flushability.

Are Baby Wipes Flushable?

Many people also wonder if baby wipes are flushable. The short answer is no, they are not flushable either.

Baby wipes marketed as “flushable” may go down the toilet but they do not break down. They can causes clogs and plumbing issues just like conventional tampons.

Baby wipes are designed to withstand liquid absorption without tearing. As a result, they will maintain their structure after flushing.

No matter what they are branded as, baby wipes should be disposed of in the trash rather than flushed.

Products That Are Flushable

These types of products can be flushed with minimal issues:

  • Toilet paper
  • Human waste (feces, urine, vomit)
  • Facial tissue
  • Washcloths or small hand towels

The key factors that make these flushable are that they are septic-safe, rapidly dissolving, and disposable. They break down quickly in water.

Use common sense when deciding what to flush. A good rule of thumb is to only flush products that are sewage system compatible and designed to dissolve rapidly in water.

Why Are Tampons Not Labeled As Non-Flushable?

While most tampon packaging recommends not flushing, some people wonder why they are not clearly labeled as non-flushable.

There are a few reasons tampon companies tend not to prominently display “do not flush” warnings:

  • They want to maintain a discreet, delicate branding image.
  • Warning labels would be at odds with marketing tampons as clean and modern.
  • Labels about flushing could raise concerns or doubts in customers.
  • Some modern “flushable” style tampons are starting to enter the market.

However, the lack of prominent warnings does not mean flushing regular tampons is okay. All major plumbing and wastewater organizations caution against flushing tampons.

Tampon Flushability FAQs

Are applicator tampons flushable?

No, plastic applicators should never be flushed. The applicator does not decompose and poses an even greater clog risk than the tampon itself.

What about tampon wrappers?

Tampon wrappers should go in the trash, not down the toilet. The slick plastic can easily slide down pipes. When wet, wrappers will cling to surfaces and clog drains.

Can I flush tampons if I have a grinder pump?

No, a grinder pump system is not designed to process non-flushable items. The tampon fibers can jam the grinder mechanism.

Are organic tampons flushable?

No, organic cotton tampons made of natural materials still take too long to decompose when flushed to avoid potential clogs.

What about just the string / removing the string?

It’s not just the absorbent material that clogs pipes – the string and stabilizing parts of a tampon also contribute to clogs. Removing the string does not make a tampon flushable.


Flushing tampons, conventional or organic, is widely discouraged. While a few specific “flushable” varieties now exist, most tampons should still be disposed of in the trash. They do not break down quickly in water and can easily get snagged in plumbing leading to clogs.

Baby wipes are also not flushable, even when labeled as such. Always put tampons, baby wipes, and other non-flushable items in the garbage, not down the toilet.

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