Can I Flush My Fish? Flushing Restroom Myths Down the Drain

From the five second rule to sticking your tongue on the roof of your mouth to cure brain freeze, we’ve all heard our share of old wives tales. Between word-of-mouth traditions and life hacks online, it’s sometimes hard to know what is real and what is not.

That bathroom plays home to many myths. Some bathroom folk tales are basically fun facts, but others can impact your health and plumbing. Separate the fact from the fiction as we dispel some of the more popular bathroom myths.

Myth #1 You Should Flush Your Fish Down the Toilet

Whether your finned friend recently died or you simply don’t want to take care of it anymore, do not flush your fish down the toilet. Fish carry bacteria and disease that you don’t want to introduce to the water system. While the water cleaning process should take care of any contaminants, it was not designed to handle fish.

While people have flushed fish down toilets for years, the practice became particularly popular after the movie Finding Nemo came out. Many children believed that flushing their fish down the toilets would free them into the ocean, which is simply not true.

Myth #2 Public Bathrooms are the Most Common Place to Catch an Illness

You are more likely to catch an illness in an elevator or a cramped office than a bathroom. Because many contagious diseases spread through the air, poorly ventilated areas are far more dangerous than a bathroom. A coughing stranger standing right next to you in an elevator poses a greater threat than the person who washed their hands in the sink before you did.

Furthermore, custodial staffs clean and disinfect bathrooms far more regularly than other rooms. Mobile phones, desks, and keyboards often have more germs on their surfaces than a toilet.

Myth #3 It is Safer to Flush the Toilet with Your Foot than Your Hand

You may fancy yourself a bit of an acrobat, but don’t try any balancing acts in the bathroom. While toilet handles bear their share of germs, you wash your hands directly after touching the handle. If you still worry, you can use toilet paper to protect your hands when you flush.

You are more likely to slip and fall as you try to balance while you use your foot to flush the toilet than you are to catch a disease from touching the handle.

Myth #4 You Can Flush Feminine Hygiene Products Down the Toilet

Do you want to watch your local plumber pull used tampons and sanitary napkins out of your pipes to fix a clog? If you flush feminine hygiene products down the toilet, this nightmare could become your reality.

Even if the packaging says you can flush the products down the toilet, don’t. Both tampons and pads absorb liquid and expand. Keep your pipes clear and dispose of all such products in the appropriate bins and trash cans.

Myth #5 Men’s Public Restrooms are Dirtier than Women’s Public Restrooms

Anyone who has ever shared a bathroom with a brother, husband, son, or male roommate might beg to differ, but women’s public restrooms usually contain more bacteria than men’s.

Most studies attribute this difference to the fact that women, on average, spend more time in the restroom, and small children typically go to the restroom with their mothers.

The sanitary bins contained the most germs in the bathroom, with women’s floors as a close second.

Myth #6 Baby Wipes are Flushable

Wipes are nothing but baby toilet paper, right? Wrong. Try this test. Take two glasses of water. Put a baby wipe in one glass and a comparable amount of toilet paper in the other. Swish both glasses around. Wait about an hour, swish the glasses around again and note the differences. The toilet paper will already have started to break down, but the wipe will still remain intact.

Baby wipes can cause serious clogs. Throw away used wipes with your diapers.

Myth # 7 You Can Save Money by Putting a Brick in Your Toilet Tank to Displace Water

Nothing should go in your toilet tank but clean water. Your toilet tank was designed to hold exactly enough water to properly flush every time.

Furthermore, you can damage your toilet when you put a brick in the tank. A pricey toilet repair costs far more than the miniscule amount you might save in water.

Myth #8 You Can Flush Prescription Medication

Some people believe you can flush prescription medication down your toilet as a safe disposal method. Once the medication makes it through the water system, it impacts local aquatic life. For example, scientists found male fish exposed to Zoloft to be less anxious and less likely to flee predators.

Additionally, male fish exposed to estrogen-type hormones exhibited more feminine qualities, and while they retained their ability to reproduce, female fish typically stayed away from those males.

Myths will continue to circle the globe as parents pass them to their children and the internet speeds up the process. Keep yourself informed and separate the myths from reality to keep yourself, and your plumbing, healthy.

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