Of course you wouldn’t. But some of the things that people flush can be just as bad – and they can cause a stink for you, your community and the environment too.
Now, although we have left behind a difficult year in 2020 and hope that 2021 is a better year for us all, our principles still remain the same.
Here is what you need to know about what is safe to flush and how we’re working around the clock to prevent blockages and flooding.
Beware the unflushables!
OK, so you wouldn’t flush a plastic bag, but what about wet wipes, cotton wool and sanitary products? If they’re flushed down the loo, they can stick together and block your drains. You might think, ‘out of sight out of mind!’ But it is not that simple…
If wastewater has nowhere else to go, it can back-up into your toilets and sinks and flood local homes and businesses. The mess is horrible, your favourite things could be ruined and repairs can be costly. Plus, the pipes are all connected so if you cause a blockage, your neighbour could be the one who pays the price.
Sadly, 300,000 homes suffer from sewer flooding every year. Yet, most of these are preventable and are caused by people putting the wrong things down their drains. That’s why things like wipes, condoms and nappies are known as unflushables.
Flushing the wrong things can harm the environment too. Many unflushables contain plastic which can take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Did you know most wipes are 90 per cent plastic? And one sanitary pad contains as much plastic as four carrier bags.
If sewers become blocked, wastewater can escape through manholes into the environment. Your unflushables could even end up in our rivers or seas where plastic pollution already kills 100 million marine animals a year.
Remember the three P’s
Luckily, there’s one easy rule to remember:
Only ever flush the three Ps. That’s pee, poo and paper.
Everything else goes in the bin. Even wipes marked ‘flushable’ can block sewers, as they take a long time to break up.
What about fatbergs?
FOG stands for fat, oil and grease – which can cause sewer blockages too. If they’re washed down the kitchen sink they can build-up and, over time, they can harden like concrete and cause fatbergs to form.
Luckily, you can use some simple kitchen hacks to help keep fatbergs away:
Scrape leftover food into your bin
Use kitchen towel to wipe cooled FOG from your kitchenware before you wash up
Use an empty butter tub or jam jar to collect cooled fat and oil, then put it in your bin.
Thanks for doing your bit!
If you put those tips into action and only flush the three Ps, you will be doing your bit to prevent blockages and floods. That is good news for you, your neighbours and the environment – everyone’s a winner.
For more information and tips, visit: southernwater.co.uk/keep-it-clear.
Water stories – find out more about how our teams keep blockages at bay
Southern Water’s dedicated FOG and Unflushables team investigate sewer blockages and share tips to keep drains flowing.
Find out about their work at a local university campus as part our work to protect your community from floods.
Steve Handley-Greaves looks after everything between your toilet and the treatment works – the pipes, pumps, screens and more.
Hear more from Steve about his role to keeping waste flowing.