Toilet Paper Alternatives That Are Safe for Your Plumbing

The toilet, while seldom celebrated, is arguably the greatest invention of all time. Without it, the good people of the greater Sioux Falls area (whom PrairieSons proudly serves for all their HVAC and plumbing needs) would have a horrible time finding places to do … that. It’s simply too cold here.

While you may spend little time expressing gratitude toward your commode, you should try as hard as you’re able not to clog it. This includes avoiding the use of toilet paper which dissolves slowly, as that may accumulate into a nasty blockage inside your toilet or its plumbing.

Avoiding slow-dissolving toilet paper may not be enough to ward off a clog. Low-flow toilets, which utilize less water by nature, are more inclined to clog up. Pipes that have become rough from age or partially obstructed by tree branches also pose a higher risk of clogging.

All the same, selecting toilet paper which breaks down quickly is one of the best ways to avoid disaster. But that begs the question: What if you want to flush something other than toilet paper? Are there toilet paper alternatives that are safe for your plumbing? There are a few, but before we recommend any let’s cover some of the things which you shouldn’t flush.

Don’t Flush: Flushable Wipes

“Flushable” is a weasel word. Although “flushable” wipes do in fact flush down the toilet, their synthetic composition makes most of them virtually incapable of breaking down in any reasonable amount of time. Large deposits of accumulated flushable wipes can easily damage a homeowner’s plumbing, and even jeopardize a municipal sewage system!

Don’t Flush: Paper Towels

As Thurgood Stubbs once said: “How many times have I told you you don’t flush paper towels down the toilet?” While they may be made of paper, tightly woven paper towels are specifically designed not to break down quickly. In other words, the very quality which makes them so useful for mopping up spills also makes paper towels disastrous to a sewer system!

Don’t Flush: Napkins

Blaming Millennials’ buying habits for killing off certain industries is a favorite pastime among journalists. But maybe Millennials are actually smart for not buying paper napkins, seeing as how they cannot be safely flushed down the toilet. Like paper towels, paper napkins break down too slowly to safely pass through plumbing!

Don’t Flush: Newspapers

Newspapers are something else Millennials aren’t buying these days. How they stay up to date on the latest Garfield comics is beyond us, but that also puts Millennials at lower risk of flushing newspapers. This is good because newspapers don’t break down easily and may quickly clog up a toilet pipe.

Don’t Flush: Coffee Filters

While coffee filters may seem close enough to toilet paper to use during an emergency, they too are specifically designed not to break down when they come into contact with water: the opposite of what toilet paper is supposed to do!

Don’t Flush: Things That You Obviously Shouldn’t Flush

We think you’re sensing a pattern here. You really shouldn’t flush anything water-insoluble down the toilet. These include:

  • Cotton

  • Grease

  • Diapers

  • Kitty litter

  • Dental floss

  • Prophylactics

  • Chewing gum

  • Cigarette butts

  • Menstrual products

Toilet Paper Alternatives

Before we continue, let us go on the record saying we’re not officially recommending the use of toilet paper alternatives that are safe for your plumbing. Our main objection to them is this: They are typically safe for your plumbing because you don’t flush them at all.

In other words, you could use old, cut-up towels or a washcloth in lieu of toilet paper, but then you’ll have an immediate disposal situation to attend to. Similarly, you could order a case of flannel toilet paper online right now, but you may lose interest once you learn it’s machine washable.

There is one toilet paper alternative that we do love, and that is the bidet. Popular in Europe and Japan, the bidet directs a gentle upward beam of water at the user to leave them sparkling clean. A bidet can be built into a toilet or stand as its own fixture, but either way, a bidet means more plumbing – something PrairieSons is always in favor of.

Alternative Toilet Papers

Maybe you want to stop using toilet paper out of a desire to be eco-friendly. That’s reasonable, as approximately 27,000 trees are cut down daily to make toilet paper. (Of course, those trees were almost all grown and raised solely to make toilet paper.)

There are eco-friendly toilet papers available. These are usually made of bamboo, recycled paper, or some blend of the two fibers, and they are safe for plumbing and septic tanks. Even though companies like No.2 and Reel are still technically making toilet paper, they’re the best alternatives at your disposal unless you take the plunge and get a bidet.