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Society is using more and more convenient, disposable products than ever before.  These products were never meant to be flushed down the toilet and are costing home owners and the Lethbridge Wastewater Treatment Plant thousands of dollars a year to fix. Think before you flush!

1. Fats, oil, and grease

This is a tough one, and everyone has done it at one point, but cooking fats should NEVER go in the drain or garbage disposal. It seems like a liquid when it’s hot, but as soon as this grease hits the drain, it cools and congeals, becoming pipe-clogging wax. Solution- Scrape it into the trash, or, if it’s clean bacon fat, save it in a jar for reuse.


2. Rags, bathroom wipes  and paper towels

These “moist towelettes” nicknamed “adult baby wipes” are becoming an increasingly popular bathroom accessory. Despite the fact that they’re marketed to be flushed like toilet paper, these wipes are creating clogs and backups in sewer systems around the world. Solution-Toss wipes, rags and paper towels in the trash.


3. Feminine Hygiene Products

Many types of feminine hygiene products (tampons, sanitary napkins) expand and have water absorbing chemicals embedded in the product. They expand and clog the pipes resulting in costly repairs for home owners and the Wastewater Treatment PlantSolution-Wrap used feminine hygiene products with toilet paper and toss them in the trash.


4. Hair

Whether it’s human hair or pet fur, never flush hair down the toilet or down the drain. It does not break apart into loose pieces; instead it stays clumped together and forms large masses. Solution- Hair from your brush should always be tossed in the trash. 


5. Chemicals 

Sewage treatment plants and plumbing systems are designed to handle human waste and sewage, not foreign chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Pesticides, herbicides, paint and paint thinners, solvents, nail polish remover, cleaning products, antifreeze, vehicle fuels and liquids, and any flammable or corrosive products should never be flushed down a toilet or down a drain. Solution-Take household chemicals to the Waste and Recycling Centre Household Hazardous Waste

 6. Prescription Medication

Many people feel they are doing the safe thing by flushing prescription medication, but it’s actually very dangerous. These drugs destroy bacteria, contaminate groundwater supplies, and can have terrible effects on wildlife downstream. Solution - Take unused prescription medication back to your pharmacist for proper disposal.


7. Condoms

They probably seem small and insignificant, but these latex prophylactics cause serious problems for septic tanks and sewage treatment plants. Condoms can inflate like balloons and cause destructive obstructions. Solution - Toss it in the trash.

8. Cotton Balls & Swabs

They’re just cotton, right? It might seem like these tiny bathroom tools would just get soggy and eventually break down in the watery pipeline, but they don’t. They eventually gather together in bends of the pipe, causing massive blockages that are difficult to dislodge. Solution - Toss them in the trash.

9. Paper towels

If you do use paper towels, know that they are NOT designed to break down in water like toilet paper. Flushing them can cause BIG problems. Solution - Use reusable rags or toss the paper towel in the trash.

10. Cigarette butts

These little butts are full of toxic chemicals that the Wastewater Treatment Plant cannot manage. The toxins end up in our Oldman River and are harmful to the environment. Also, think of all the water you’re wasting to get rid of ONE tiny butt! Solution - Safely dispose of butts in a metal container.

11. Band-aids

These are made from non-biodegradable plastic, which is terrible for the environment and can cause clogs in the sewage system. Solution - Toss it in the trash.

12. Dental floss

Dental floss is not biodegradable. Once flushed, it loves to wrap itself around other objects in the pipeline, making tiny clogs bigger.  Solution - Toss it in the trash.

13. Cat litter

Cat litter is made from clay and sand, two things that you should NEVER put down a toilet. Not to mention that cat waste contains toxins and parasites. Solution - Toss it in the trash.

14. Disposable diapers

Just because there’s poop and pee in it, doesn’t mean it belongs in the toilet. Diapers are made from toxic plastic that is designed to expand when it comes in contact with water. Disposable diapers cause massive clogs in sewer pipes and a huge cost to the homeowner to fix. Solution - Toss the diaper in the trash.

15. Razers - Syringes -Needles

None of these are biodegradable or safe to flush. They are dangerous to have in septic or sewer systems and pose a real danger to wastewater treatment plant workers. Solution- Use Sharps Containers


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More Information 






For more information

Online: Submit a service request
Phone: 311 or 403-320-3111 (if outside of Lethbridge)
Address:  City Hall, 910 4 Avenue South, Lethbridge, Alberta, T1J 0P6