The days are getting longer, and the temperature is getting hotter. Soon family and friends will get together for barbecues and backyard gatherings filled with laughter and good food. Here at the Responsible Flushing Alliance, we’re excited for you to fill your social calendar with summer fun, but your pipes shouldn’t suffer for it!  You’d be surprised at what inadvertently ends up down the drain at family gatherings and backyard barbecues. We’re here to help you understand the real deal behind risky flushing habits.

Whether it’s the kid next door, your significant other or some flirtatious stranger your cousin brought to hang out, sending non-flushable items down the drain can cause dangerous clogs that leave the bathroom out of order when you need it most. Even if the wrong product (think chicken bones, paper towels or bacon fat) makes it past the toilet, clogs can cause chaos in municipal sewer systems, leading to burst pipes, contaminated water, and overflowing sewers. Yuck.

They Flushed What???

Our concerns aren’t just hypothetical. Did you know that clogs contribute to 850 billion gallons raw sewage being dumped into waterways each year? The result is damaged waterfront communities, hurt wildlife, and polluted drinking water.

A recent RFA survey of wastewater organizations in California found that in addition to non-flushable wipes and home-care products, some wild and wacky things are ending up in city sewer systems, including hundreds of hotdogs, casino chips, and rags. Many of those items could have very well come from your Family BBQ! While we’re all for family members joining in on a fun night of games and summer snacks, we want to keep the festivities in the backyard and out of the bathroom.

We love having these essential items at a barbecue, but there’s no reason to flush them.   The next time you’re serving up your best brisket and ribs to your friends and family, remember the following to ensure you keep your home and community clog free.

Do Not Flush:

  • Plastic chip bags
  • Paper plates and napkins
  • Plastic silverware
  • Disposable tablecloths and place mats
  • Sanitizing or hand wipes
  • Cloth bandanas

Additionally, these items do NOT belong down the drain of your kitchen sink:

  • Cooking oil
  • Bacon fat
  • Hamburger grease
  • Lighter fluid
  • Candle wax
  • Food waste

This BBQ season, take a moment to talk to your family, friends, and house guests about what should and should not be flushed to protect your home and community from costly, dangerous clogs.

#RFA Tip: You can let the little ones know; improper flushing might just wake up the clog monster!

What Not to Flush

Summer months or not, everyday use household products are ending up in sewers and creating headaches for communities like yours. Other non-flushable items to be aware of keeping out of pipes year-round include:

  • Baby Wipes or Household Cleaning Wipes
    • Paper Towels, Facial Tissue, Makeup Wipes
    • Fats, Oils, and Grease
    • Food, Trash, Plastic Bags
    • Rags, Cloth, Disposable Gloves
    • Cotton Balls, Cotton Swabs, Dental Floss
    • Feminine Hygiene Products
    • Hair/Hair Weaves
    • Medications/Syringes

The Responsible Flushing Alliance is leading the way with its #FlushSmart consumer education campaign. RFA is dedicated to keeping homes and communities healthy through proper flushing practices. This includes supporting clear and prominent labeling of all items that should not be flushed, including promotion of the “Do Not Flush” symbol on non-flushable wipes.

For more information, go to or @flushsmart on Twitter or Facebook.

How Can You Help?

The most effective way to cut down on clogs and keep non-flushable items out of your pipes is to communicate with guests about the flushing rules in your home. This can be done in person, or by making a small sign to be displayed in your bathroom illustrating for guests what should and should not be flushed.

Another great option is to ensure appropriate trash receptacles are easily accessible and visible where your guests gather. There’s no need to flush a potato chip bag if a clearly marked trash bin is close by! Clearly communicating that your family prioritizes protecting the environment and community water infrastructure will help guide guest flushing habits AND inspire smart flushing in their own homes as well!