What are you supposed to do with a condom once used? Do you throw it in the trash or down the toilet? Disposing of them by flushing is actually more dangerous than you think and leads to more than just a clogged toilet.
Can condoms clog toilets? Yes - and then some. Follow this guide as we explore what actually happens when you try to flush one.
The short answer is no. Condoms, by their very design, are meant to retain, ahem, fluids, and don't break down easily. They may be made of plant-based rubber (latex), but that doesn’t mean they’re friendly to the environment.
While they are made from tree-based rubber, they have many artificial chemicals and lubricants added to make them tougher. This means that flushing them isn't just going to get rid of them.
Once flushed down the toilet, condoms can get stuck in the pipes or make their way to a septic tank. They can stick to the side and can even fill up with water if they land in the right position. Imagine now you’ve got a collection of them growing and blocking your waste system. Yuck.
If they make it past your plumbing, they can end up in water systems that will contaminate the supply, or make their way into the ocean, harming the wildlife. They will float in the water until they're cleaned up and can even contribute to a fatberg - a mass of oil, grease, non-disposable items, and, you guessed it, condoms. This clogs up everyone's sewer system.
Unclogging a toilet filled with condoms (or even just one) can get expensive and messy. The backing up of the toilet leads to bacteria and germs making their way into your house, too. Condoms should be disposed of by wrapping them in a tissue and throwing them in the bin.
What exactly does happen to the condoms once you have flushed them, though? What are the possible outcomes of disposing of them through the toilet?
What Happens When You Flush A Condom Down The Toilet?
So, once the condom has been flushed, what will happen to it? For one, it won’t break down as toilet paper does - the condom can withstand a lot of battering. So the first thing that could happen is it makes its way into the ocean. Aquatic life will then try to eat it; they could get tangled or suffocate in it too.
In that vein, they can also wash up onto beaches, which is a breeding ground for bacteria.
You could also find yourself in a nasty situation where the condom gets stuck. If you flush it, the condom could simply stay in your pipes. The condom can stick to existing debris or a part of the plumbing, and block anything else trying to exit the toilet. In this case, you’ll have to remove it yourself.
Over time, if you’re flushing them repeatedly, then multiple condoms will create a pretty big build-up, meaning your toilet water isn't going anywhere when you flush.
Remember that when you flush a condom, someone is going to have to eventually clear it up. Be that you, a plumber, a sewage worker, or environmental cleaners later on down the line. It won’t just disappear; it will become a problem for someone.
What To Do If You Flushed A Condom Down The Toilet?
If you’ve flushed a condom down the toilet, then there are several things you can do in different scenarios.
Fish It Out
If you flush and it doesn’t go away, grab it! It may sound gross, but it’s no more disgusting than what it could cause later down the line. Wrap it in tissue and put it in the bin, and then give your hands a thorough wash.
A flange plunger would work well in this situation. This is a plunger with a rubber suction cup on the top and a sleeve extension. Simply insert the plunger into the bowl, push the handle down firmly and pull back up. Repeat this several times before flushing the toilet. If it still doesn’t move, then the condom may be jammed in there.
A drain snake may work really well here, too. This is a manual clog remover that bores into the blockage to get it moving. Insert the auger (head) of the drain snake until you feel the condom or blockage, and twist the handle back and forth until the water starts to move again. Pull the snake out of the drain, and if the condom is on the auger, dispose of it properly.
Condoms won’t be broken down by chemicals, but by using different solutions, you can lubricate the blockage, so it gets moving. There are two methods here:
Latex isn’t immune to oil - it can break it down pretty quickly. If you find yourself in a dire situation, try some baby oil down the bowl. This will damage the condom and hopefully either break it or damage it enough that it moves on.
Remember: the best way to avoid condom blockages in your toilet is to dispose of them properly - in the trash.
Frequently Asked Flushing Condoms Questions
Will one condom clog a toilet?
One condom shouldn’t block the toilet. But it can get stuck on the side of your plumbing or on the u-bend and either fill with water or cause other debris to stick to it, leading to problems later on.
What other things should not be flushed down the toilet?
You should avoid flushing sanitary products down the toilet. They don't break down in water either and will clog your plumbing. Paper towels are also a big no - when wet, paper towels become heavy and sink to the bottom of your pipes, eventually stopping anything else from coming through.
Do condoms come back up later when you flush them?
If they don’t disappear after you flush them, they might stick to the side of the pipes or in the septic tank. If your toilet is already clogged, then they may come back up.
How should you dispose of condoms properly?
You should wrap them up in a few layers of tissue and throw them into a bin. Do not throw them into recycling or into compost; they won't break down the same, and they cannot be recycled.
Avoid yourself headaches later on down the line - don’t flush your condoms down the toilet. Just one can lead to a magnitude of problems and clogs, which can lead to gross or costly repairs. Make sure you dispose of your condoms responsibly, and keep your toilet free of damage or unnecessary blockages.