Know your unflushables: Save money while helping the environment
When you use your toilet, wash your dishes or shower, the water leaves your home through your pipes and flows into the sewer system.
Putting the wrong thing down the drain can create backups in your home, cause problems in the sewer system and harm the environment.
To take care of your pipes, save money and protect the environment, follow these simple rules:
- Flush only toilet paper
- Do not flush:
- Human or animal hair
- Hygiene products (wipes, facial tissues/pads)
- Dental floss
- Do not put paper towels down the drain
- Do not put grease down the sinks or toilet
- Scrape all food scraps – especially coffee grounds, tea bags and cooked rice – into the trash
- Use the trash for non-dispersible items, such as rags, hair, later, personal hygiene products, facial tissues and cleaning wipes
- Encourage friends and family to be aware of what they flush down the drains
Expired or unused medications also SHOULD NOT be flushed down the toilet or household drains.
Sewer systems cannot clean medicines from the water, which eventually flows to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay carrying any pollutants with it.
What are considered to be “medications”?
- Prescription drugs such as hormones (birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapy, etc.); antidepressants; antibiotics; and any veterinary/pet medicines
- Over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) and prescription narcotic painkillers; cold and flu remedies; and antiseptics (germ-killing liquids)
Need to dispose of expired or unused medications?
- The U.S. Food & Drug Administration offers guidance about the proper disposal of medications
- The City of Alexandria provides information on how to dispose of household hazardous waste