Protect your pipes

Are you flushing wipes down the toilet or pouring grease down the sink?

What you pour down the sink or flush down the toilet can be costly. It can lead to blocked pipes in your home, costly plumbing repairs and flood damage from sewage backups in your basement. It can also be costly for municipal wastewater treatment equipment including blocked sewer pipes and buildup on wastewater handling equipment requiring unscheduled maintenance.

Top offenders and how to correctly dispose of household items

The chart below lists the correct disposal method for many household items that are routinely flushed. For a complete list of how to properly dispose of your waste ask the Region of Waterloo Waste Whiz.

Put in the garbage

  • wipes including flushable wipes, disposable wipes, disinfecting wipes and baby wipes
  • bandages and wraps
  • extinguished cigarettes
  • cotton swabs with a plastic rod
  • dental floss
  • disposable diapers and baby wipes
  • disposable toilet brushes and cleaning sponges

Put in the green bin

  • cotton balls, pads and swabs with a rolled paper or wooden rod
  • fat, oils and grease (limit of 1 cup)
  • hair
  • paper towels and napkins

Put wipes, including flushable ones, in the garbage

No wipes - including ones marked "flushable" - should be flushed down the toilet. They don't break apart and block pipes which can overflow, causing health concerns, environmental issues, and property damage for homeowners and wastewater treatment plants. Put wipes, including flushable ones, in the garbage.

Read the information sheet to learn more.

Unscheduled maintenance at wastewater treatment plant from wipes flushed down toilets

For a reusable alternative to wipes, try using "green" cleaning solutions and a reusable rag or make your own using this simple DIY:

1. Combine the below ingredients

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid soap
  • 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol
  • (optional) a few drops of essential oil such as lavender, lemon, eucalyptus

2. Place rags or washcloths into a container

3. Pour liquid solution over rags or washcloths

4. Overtime, you may need to add hot water to reactivate them as they dry out 

Properly dispose of fats, cooking oils and grease

Fat, cooking oil and grease (FOG) should never go down your drains. They can block sewer pipes and cause buildup on wastewater handling equipment. Blocked pipes can overflow causing health concerns, environmental issues and property damage. Ask the Waste Whiz on how to properly dispose of FOG.

Clogged pipe from fat, oil or grease (photo credit: Barry Orr, City of London)

Return unused and expired medications to participating pharmacies

Medicines poured down your sink or flushed down your toilet may end up in our waterways. Return unused and expired medications to a location near you.

Properly dispose of chemicals, oils and paints

Buy only what you need, use it up and dispose of leftovers safely and properly. Consider using green alternatives and natural options whenever possible.

What businesses need to know

Businesses discharging fat, oil and grease must comply with the Region of Waterloo Sewer Use By-law 21-036. Workers, management, facility owners and property owners all must understand and manage the type of materials going down the drain. You can use this online form to apply for a permit under the Sewer Use By-Law.

Read the Fats, oils and grease information sheet to learn more.

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