What You Can (and Can't) Flush

Learn what you can safely flush down the toilet into the City sewer system.
There are only three things you can safely flush down the toilet into the sewer system —pee, poo and (toilet) paper. Just remember those three as the three Ps that you can flush. And don't forget, "flushable" wipes are not really flushable.
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Flushing the wrong things down the toilet can: 

  • Clog your toilet or your pipes. 
  • Cause a sewer backup into your home or building. 
  • Damage the sewer system. 
  • Create blockages that release sewage into the environment. 

Sewer backups into your home, business, or neighborhood are not only gross, they can be hazardous to your health and costly to clean up. 

Do Flush This 

The list of items you can flush down the toilet  is short. Just remember the three Ps: 

  1. Pee
  2. Poo 
  3. (Toilet) paper 

Don't Flush This 

Anything other than toilet paper and human waste—including cleaning or baby wipes that are marketed as "flushable"—can block your pipes or the City’s sewer system. Watch this video to see how wipes can pile up in the sewer pipes connecting a home to the sewer. 

Never flush the following items down the toilet or pour them down a drain:

  • Automotive fluids*
  • Bandages and bandage wrappings 
  • Cleaning wipes of any kind 
  • Condoms 
  • Contact lenses 
  • Cotton balls and swabs 
  • Dental floss 
  • Disposable diapers 
  • Disposable gloves 
  • Facial tissue 
  • Face masks 
  • Fertilizers, weed killers and other yard chemicals* 
  • Mini or maxi pads 
  • Paint, solvents, sealants and thinners* 
  • Paper towels 
  • Pet poop (including "flushable" cat litter) 
  • Poisons and hazardous waste* 
  • Sanitary napkins 
  • Tampons and tampon applicators 
  • Unused medications* 

*Hazardous waste

Don't Flush Hazardous Waste or Medications

Never flush unused medications or other chemicals down the toilet or pour them down a drain.

Portland’s wastewater treatment plants are great at taking the bacteria and human waste out of flushed water, but they are not specially designed to filter out chemicals found in things like medications, paint, or motor oil. Flushing those types of substances into the sewer system could harm City workers, the treatment plant, and our rivers and streams.

Take unused medications to an approved prescription drug take-back site or event. Visit the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for more information about how to manage unwanted medications or find a take-back site near you.

Dispose of unwanted paint, yard chemicals or solvents at a Metro station near you.

Wipes Clog Pipes 

Flushing wipes or other items not meant to be flushed could block the sewer and cause a backup. Watch this video from the Water Environment Federation to see what really happens to so-called "flushable" material.