You Can't Flush Tampons Down The Toilet -- Mind. Blown.

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

You’re not supposed to flush tampons down the toilet. Does anyone know this?

Up is down. Black is white. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Yesterday I learned you can’t flush tampons down the toilet. Apparently this is common knowledge. It’s written on the instructions on the tampon box. But I’m in my forties, and haven’t needed to look at the instructions on a tampon box in a while. Actually, I’m pretty sure I figured the instructions out on my own, now that I think of it.

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Anyway — back to not flushing tampons. Do you flush your tampons down the toilet? I do. I always have. I’ve also always been diligent about the “no diaper wipes” in the toilet rule. Some in my house may say I’m more than diligent, bordering on “I heard you crazy lady, I won’t flush the wipes. Get away from me.” My mind is absolutely blown that I’ve been doing this wrong for nearly three decades.

I was perusing the web yesterday when an article caught my eye. It was called, “Did anyone else know you can’t flush tampons?” Immediately I yelped, “No! I did not know that!” and began harassing my co-workers. I quickly learned I was not alone in my ignorance, by their responses.

Co-worker 1: “What?!”

Co-worker 2: “What the fuck do you do with it if you’re not supposed to flush it?”

Co-worker 3: “I’ve been flushing tampons ALL MY LIFE.”

Co-worker 4: “So we are supposed to be throwing them in the garbage? That seems so wrong. I’m not doing it.”

Co-worker 5: “I’ve been told this before and always ignore it.”

I needed answers, so I reached out to Kimberly-Clark, makers of Kotex. “Tampons should not be flushed down a toilet,” a rep for Kimberly-Clark answered. “Unlike Kimberly-Clark’s flushable wipes products, the materials used in tampons are not designed to break down in waste water systems.”

Really? I mean, I always knew you weren’t supposed to toss the applicator into the toilet (I’m a genius), but I never realized that “no feminine waste products” sign actually referred to the tampon itself. The instructions on a Kotex box say, “Don’t flush tampons and wrappers down the toilet – you might clog up the plumbing system and it’s bad for the environment. Just wrap it in some toilet paper (or put it in a bag) and place it in the bin or sanitary disposal unit.”

Put it in a bag? What bag?

The Tampax site says, “They are biodegradable in landfills, but flushing is not ideal for tampon disposal. Tampons cannot be processed by wastewater-treatment facilities and they can harm septic systems. Please help us help the environment by disposing of tampons securely in the trash. That way, we can all do our part for the environment.” I haven’t been doing my part for the environment for about 25 years. Yikes.

The Playtex site says, “Flush the used tampon or place in an appropriate waste container.” Tsk, tsk, Playtex.

What the hell else are we all doing wrong? I haven’t felt this lost since the day someone told me Sinbad didn’t actually star in a movie about a genie, called Shazaam! Yes, he did! And no, you don’t wrap tampons in toilet paper and throw them in the trash!

Only no, he didn’t. And yes, you do.

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