More and more bathroom stall doors in public bathrooms have signs that read:
“Do NOT flush tampons down the toilet!”
Unfortunately, many menstruators aren’t aware of what happens when you flush tampons down the toilet and how to dispose of a used tampon in a way that’s safe for public health, bathroom plumbing and the environment.
Equally as unfortunate, many public bathrooms don’t provide hygienic and convenient options for the disposal of menstrual waste. They simply put signs up expecting a different outcome in their washroom plumbing.
Yet, the good news is flowing: in this article we’re providing the information, tips and resources everyone needs to stop flushing tampons down the toilet once and for all!
Can you flush a tampon down the toilet?
The short answer is: no – absolutely not. Tampons should not be flushed down the toilet for a number of reasons, mainly due to the fact that they are designed to absorb large volumes of fluid.
Sanitary napkins, also known as pads or feminine hygiene products, should also never be flushed down the toilet.
How should you throw out a used tampon? Dispose of your used tampons in a menstrual hygiene waste disposal unit.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires menstrual waste – including used tampons – to be disposed of in lined containers specifically designed for menstrual waste to prevent cross-contamination of blood-borne pathogens.
What happens when you flush a tampon down the toilet?
When you flush a used tampon down the toilet you risk clogging up pipes and drains potentially leading to backed up toilets and flooding.
Used tampons are made to absorb liquid, meaning they won’t break down like toilet paper does as they travel through sewer treatment systems, wreaking havoc on our water treatment facilities and waterways.
The purpose of a tampon is to expand.
The average tampon is designed to absorb between 3 – 15 millilitres of fluid, depending on the brand and make of the tampon (eg. “light” tampons hold less, whereas super/overnight tampons hold more).
When a tampon is fully submerged in liquid for long periods of time, the materials may expand beyond their intended absorption.
Blockages in pipes caused by used tampons that have been flushed down the toilet can cause serious and expensive plumbing issues.
Menstrual hygiene products that are deemed “biodegradable” are designed to break down over a long period of time – in a waste treatment facility.
Even “eco-friendly” tampon brands can cause plumbing blockages and pipe breaks.
How to dispose of a used tampon
Throwing out a used tampon should be straight forward.
You should be able to simply dispose of your tampon in a touchless hygienic menstrual care disposal system.
However, many public bathroom stalls still don’t have the adequate menstrual care provisions. For those already living with period poverty, creating a period positive space can go a long way socially, and for your business.
If you visit a public bathroom when you’re on your period and there are no menstrual waste disposal units inside the stall, you may panic a little.
The number one reason why menstruators flush their used tampons down the toilet is that there is not an in-cubicle waste disposal option.
The second reason why menstruators flush their used tampons down the toilet is thatthe menstrual waste disposal options provided are unhygienic and outdated – such as the metal wall box.
The thought of carrying bloody cargo out into the main washroom area in search of a garbage bin leaves many menstruators looking for the least embarrassing solution – flush.
But there are better options – and menstruators deserve better menstrual waste disposal options.
Menstruators can’t pause their periods in order to dispose of menstrual waste products at a convenient moment.
Menstrual hygiene waste disposal units
Protect businesses from waste accumulation AND plumbing issues by hiring a team of professionals specifically trained to manage menstrual waste disposal in a way that guards against public health concerns.
In order to spare your washroom visitors’ embarrassment – and protect your pipes from tampon disposal – every washroom should be equipped with a menstrual waste disposal unit located very near the toilet for ease of use.
Advocate for better menstrual waste disposal options
If you visit a public bathroom and see that there are no waste bins or menstrual waste disposal units within each of the bathroom stalls – or visible at all – advocate for change.
Speak to the facilities manager or the business manager about investing in hygienic solutions for washroom visitors.
Tampon disposal and the environment
Around 20% of women routinely flush tampons down the toilet when away from home.
Some women and menstruators might be thinking that it’s the most hygienic solution to tampon disposal if they can’t see a better menstrual waste disposal unit in immediate reach.
Some may think that because tampons are small, they won’t do any damage to the plumbing, or to the environment.
In fact, tampons are incredibly harmful to the environment.
An estimated 2.5 million tampons are flushed down the toilet every day.
Some of those are stopped by the pipes, some are stopped by waste management facilities.
But there are many more being pumped straight into our waterways that wreak havoc on aquatic wildlife and befoul our drinking waters.
How to safely dispose of menstrual waste
Citron Hygiene was created to elevate the washroom experience – with a specific focus on creating more period positive spaces.
Eco-friendly, hygienic menstrual disposal solutions are completely maintained by our professional team of waste disposal experts.
As part of our suite of menstrual waste disposal solutions, we provide:
- Menstrual hygiene disposal units (including touch-free units to keep them clean)
- Menstrual hygiene waste disposal services (we take it right out of the building for you)
- Eco-friendly management of menstrual hygiene products
- Regular maintenance and disinfection services
Keep your washrooms clean, your waste removal efficient, and protect your pipes with the Citron Hygiene suite of hygiene solutions.
Book your free consultation today!