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Don't flush trash

Use a trash can instead of the toilet to dispose of used wipes, hygiene products and other items that don’t break down like toilet paper.

Even if the label says “flushable”, wipes and other trash can build up in the sewer system and cause overflows that might damage property, hurt the environment, or make people sick.

Last year, King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division spent over $120,000 just to take the wipes, tampons, and other trash that came into our treatment plants to a landfill. That’s enough trash to fill two semi-trucks every week! Plus, there’s the increased cost for system operation and maintenance.

Wipes, trash and debris are a costly problem for cities and local sewer agencies, too. Putting the wrong things down sinks and toilets might also cause expensive plumbing problems in your home or business.

A pile of tampon applicators, condoms and trash cleaned out of the system by our operators at the West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle.
A pile of tampon applicators, condoms and trash cleaned out of the system by our operators at the West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle.

Don't flush grease

  • Use screens to keep hair, fruit stickers and other stuff out of drains and pipes.
  • Scrape out greasy bowls, pots, and pans before washing.
  • Keep fatty foods and meats out of the garbage disposal, and put cooled, solidified grease in the trash.

What happens when grease is washed down the drain?

When grease is washed down the drain, it sticks to the inside of sewer pipes (both on your property and in the streets). Over time, it builds up and can block an entire pipe.

Garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the pipes, they only shred it into smaller pieces. Commercial additives, including detergents that claim to dissolve grease, may pass it down the line and cause problems away from the source.

The results of a grease-blocked sewer pipe can be:

  • Sewage overflows in your home or your neighbor's home
  • Expensive and unpleasant cleanup that often must be paid for by the property owner. The average cleanup cost is about $3,000 which does not include replacing carpets and repairing walls.
  • Possible contact with disease-causing organisms
  • An increase in operation and maintenance costs by the local sewer district and King County's regional treatment system, which causes higher sewer bills for customers.

Visit King County Solid Waste's What do I do with...? website for information about safely disposing of fats, oils, and grease.

Grease in sewer
Grease going down the drain can cause serious problems in our sewers and your house drains and side sewer.

Don't flush medications or chemicals

Don’t put unwanted medications down the toilet or sink. Worried about keeping discarded meds away from kids or pets? Many pharmacies across King County now take back expired or unwanted medications for safe disposal.

Got paint, pesticides and other household chemicals you no longer need or want? King County’s Wastemobile and Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Sites are a much safer alternative to putting these things down the drain or in the trash.

Human waste and toilet paper are the only things to flush. Nothing else belongs in the toilet!