What you flush matters
Sewer backups into your home, business, or neighborhood are not only gross, they can be hazardous to your health and expensive to clean up.
Flushing the wrong things down the toilet can:
- Clog your toilet or pipes and cause a sewage backup into your home or building.
- Cause sewer blockages that result in sewage flowing into a street or the environment.
- Harm people, fish, or wildlife.
- Damage the sewer system and wastewater treatment plant.
Flush only the three Ps – pee, poop, and (toilet) paper.
Wipes clog pipes!
Wipes of all kinds — cleaning, antibacterial, facial, baby, whatever type — can block your pipes. Even wipes that are marketed as "flushable" aren’t flushable and can clog the sewer. Watch this video on the Water Environment Federation's channel to see how these materials don’t breakdown when flushed.
This video shows how wipes can pile up over time in the pipe connecting a home to the sewer, slowly creating a blockage that will eventually cause a sewage backup.
Avoid Blockages: Don't flush these items
Never flush the following items down the toilet or pour them down a drain because they can block sewer pipes and cause sewer backups to your home or the street.
- Baby wipes or other types of wipes—even if labeled or marketed as “flushable”
- Paper towels
- Mini or maxi pads, panty liners, or any sanitary napkin
- Tampons and tampon applicators
- Disposable diapers
- Fats, oils, or grease from cooking. Learn what to do with kitchen FOG.
- Bandages and bandage wrappings
- Cotton balls and swabs
- Dental floss and dental picks
- Disposable gloves
- Facial tissue
- Face masks
- Pet poop in a plastic bag
- Cat litter— even if labeled or marketed as “flushable”
Prevent Pollution: Don't flush medications or hazardous waste
Never flush unused medications or other chemicals down the toilet or pour them down a drain.
These items can’t be treated and pass through the treatment system and into our rivers:
- Contact lenses
- Automotive fluids
- Fertilizers, weed killers, and other yard chemicals
- Paint, solvents, sealants, and thinners
- Poisons and hazardous waste
Portland’s wastewater treatment plants remove bacteria and human waste from wastewater, but they are not designed to remove plastic from contact lenses or other small items, or chemicals found in things like medications, paint, or motor oil. When these types of substances enter the sewer system, they can harm City workers, treatment plant processes, and our rivers and streams. Pollutants in our waterways harm public health, water quality, fish, and wildlife.
How to dispose of medications
Drop off unused medications at an approved prescription drug take-back site, take-back event, or mail-back service.
- Find a drop-off location near you (Safe Drug Disposal)
- Request mail-back supplies (Safe Drug Disposal)
- Find a take-back event (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration)
Learn more on the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s website about how to manage unwanted medications
How to dispose of common auto, home, or yard products
When doing painting projects, check out Metro’s guidance on clean up and managing paint waste.