Dear Ladies: Dirty tampons DO NOT belong in the toilet

Ok, so for the 4th time in 6th months, our main sewage drain out of my work has been clogged up by dirty tampons. I work at a bar, a place that mainly caters to anyone 21 and up.

You’ve all had at least 7+ years to realize that a tampon is NOT BIODEGRADABLE (at age 21). You SHOULD wrap it up in some TP and put it in the waste basket next to the toilet. Every toilet has a trash can in it. You would think that this would sink in by age 21+.

But lo and behold, no, apparently everyone feels free to flush a tampon when they have a little buzz on and it’s not their toilet to clean up.

No, instead they decide to drop it into the toilet, flush, and slowly but surely it makes its’ trip down about 40 feet into the main sewer line before the string latches onto some god-awful object that’s been stuck to the side of the sewage pipe. It lodges there, and refuses to move. Meanwhile, another 50+ people come in behind you and flush their urine, shit, and perhaps another used tampon or two, and when it all comes to a head there’s shit, poo, TP, urine, and blood-speckled tampons coming back up through ALL of the toilets.

Which leads to the whole point of my rant. We bar’s don’t have too many extra employees to call up for these awful janitorial purposes. We have a cook or two, a bartender, and a server or two.

The servers are going to laugh in your face when you tell them to clean up sewage @ $2.75/hour. The bartender’s going to be too busy making drinks to have time to be cleaning up a bathroom. That leaves one of the cooks, who’s wage kinda justifies dealing with feces and urine. (In other words, pays better than minimum wage.)

When I went to work today, I was expecting a perfectly normal day. Two of us cooks, a bartender, and 2 servers. Around 8:00 all the toilets start to over flow, there’s shit/urine/water/TP/god knows what flowing up through all of our sewage outlets, and mayhem ensues because it’s still dinner rush and everyone’s 100% busy just doing normal shit, let alone the sewage spewing in the bathrooms.

2 hours, a plumber, 2 mop buckets of sewage, and everything is finally straightened out by 8:30. Thankfully, I was able to pull senior rank and send the rookie in for the shit-mopping duty today, my shoes stayed nice and clean.

But SERIOUSLY, in the past six months we’ve had 4 used tampons clog our main drainage lines (and 1 pair of panties… I’m not gonna bring that up in this rant though). STOP FLUSHING THAT SHIT. Sooner or later, SOMEBODY’S gonna have to clean up that time-bomb you just dropped in the toilet, just wrap it in some TP and plop it next to the toilet.

I promise, there’s not some weirdo Private Investigator following you waiting for you to drop a DNA tampon, just don’t fucking put it into the sewage system

You can’t blame people too much when the tampon box actually says they are flushable and most people have flushed them for all of those 7+ years in their homes and never had a problem. Did you put signs up in the stalls?

Errmmm…can you put a tampon disposal box (one of them only opens one way, contain smells thingys from the bio disposal people) actually IN the stall?

…or I have parsed your OP wrongly?

Seconding the ‘post a sign’ idea. I’ve been taught all my life that tampons are flushable, and I’m guessing most of my peers have too.

It says on the instructions in the box that you can flush them. For realsies. For years I never flushed, but my roommate swore and by gum, it sure says you can.

Now, are your idiot patrons flushing the APPLICATORS? Because that would be stupid and clog your drain.

I just pulled out the instructions right now, it says:

Which certainly seems to imply it’s ok to flush.

Read the instructions on a tampon box: you’re supposed to flush them.

However, it appears that your plumbing isn’t up to the job; quite common in older buildings. Therefore, put a courteous sign in every stall requesting the ladies use the container that you provide–in every stall. You could install these or just use little plastic cans–covered, if possible.

And don’t run out of toilet paper!

I would also guess that part of the problem is with the plumbing. Another part, of course, is with the tampon manufacturers for instructing women to flush the tampons. To the best of my knowledge, panties never come with instructions to flush them. I have no idea what the panty flusher was thinking, or if she was thinking.

I would suggest making sure that the waste baskets are large enough to hold several tampons/pads, highly visible, empty, and clean on the outside. I would also suggest signs, saying that your plumbing system just can’t handle another tampon, so please use the waste baskets that are provided. Further, make sure the bathroom gets cleaned and restocked regularly, and by regularly I mean several times a shift. Some bars and restaurants have nice, clean bathrooms just about all the time. Others have bathrooms that look like WWII was staged in there, and nothing has been cleaned since. Finally, please, please, PLEASE stock decent toilet paper. Don’t stock the stuff that’s like very thin waxed paper, only rougher and less absorbent. I have quit going to a couple of restaurants because they have such terrible toilet paper. I’m not asking for first quality paper, I just want something that will remove the waste without removing my skin/mucous membranes at the same time.

On a bathroom related note, I personally prefer to hang my purse on one of those door hooks, rather than put it on the floor. I don’t care HOW clean the potty looks and smells, I’d really rather not put my purse on the floor.

Yeah, this is a problem with your inadequate plumbing.

And you could go for a permanent solution, rather than putting up signs asking your customers to compensate for your problems (which half of them will ignore anyway): fix the plumbing!

If it’s happened to you 4 times in the past 6 months, and each time takes 2 hours of a plumbers time at emergency-nighttime rates, you will soon have paid for the re-plumbing just by avoiding these calls. Besides keeping your customers (and employees) happier.

I’m surprised the local health inspector hasn’t forced you to fix your plumbing. Probably only because he hasn’t heard about this. And of all people, you pick one of the cooks – the food preparer – to clean up the overflowing toilet? I’n glad I don’t eat at your business!

I really think signs would help, if you can’t afford to re-do the whole system. No one wants to cause a toilet to overflow. Really. But most modern plumbing systems can handle tampons, so women will assume yours can, too, unless you tell them otherwise.

I don’t use tampons but my mother did and she flushed them with no probs. Is there some new thing?

Admittedly it’s hard to catch a slick used tampon before it drops in the drink! But it can be done…

Our sewer system serves a lake community, and only the lake people pay for it, it is 30 plus years old and prone to failures. Most of those failures had to do with stuff besides shit piss paper and water going down the pipe. Undies, dental floss, hair, diapers, rags and more weird stuff woudl put a lift station into shut down mode.

Now all sewer users are instructed NOT to put any feminine hygiene products, floss, hair, etc etc down the sewer. It’s a rule we can live with since no one likes sewer backing up into their house or the lake.

Water softener discharge is another hassle since the salts and stuff accumulate in the fields when the effluent is released from the lagoons. This threatens the groundwater quality.

No longer can we flush and forget about it!

I flushed for 15 years in my home and we have a septic system. Never EVER had a problem. It’s not them; it’s you. (YOU the OP…not you kushiel)

I work in rental property management. We include a clause in our leases that anyone who flushes tampons, snitary napkins, paper towels, wet naps, baby wipes, or disposal diapers pays for the repairs.

My father-in-law has managed a huge apartment complex for some 30-odd years now, and has extensive experience with the things people think are flushable. Many years ago he gave me a list of things that it’s ok to flush, and I’ve never had any problem with a toilet since:

  1. Bodily waste
  2. Toilet paper

That’s it…if a product’s packaging says it’s flushable, that’s nice. Don’t do it. Johnson & Johnson aren’t going to come snake your toilet.

Think it’s fine to toss a tissue in there? Try this – take two glasses of water. Put a tissue in one of them, and a handful of TP in the other. Wait a few hours and see what’s left in each glass.

There are four toilets in the three-year-old office building I work in, and all four have been clogged at one time or another by TP. Not even ridiculous quantities- just one deuce’s worth.

I was always taught not to flush tampons. My friend’s dad runs the local sewer district and says that they cause major problems.

It’s not that hard to wrap them up and toss them, is it? I mean, on the off chance that the plumbing you’re using can’t handle flushable 'poons, why not err on the side of caution?

Another one for “Either fix your plumbing, or put up a sign.”

There’s a bar close to here in an old building that instructs us not to flush our lady things in a polite and nominally amusing way.

See the thing about ‘just wrap it in some tp and put it into the can’ is that it doesn’t acknowledge the fact that once exposed to the air, used tampons start to stink almost immediately.


Especially in warm weather, in an hour or two the reek of decaying blood can turn your stomach.

In addition, just try wrapping a soaked tampon in toilet paper without getting blood on your hands. Okay, in a ‘normal’ bathroom you have the sink handy and can rinse off. In a commercial bathroom stall? Nope. There you are with bloody hands, and you still have to take care of reinserting a new one. (For the males who might not know: if you use non-applicator types of tampons, having your hands even damp can cause the tampon to start swelling prematurely – which can make inserting anything from awkward through painful to impossible.)

Even worse, then you have to deal with getting your undies back in place, maybe panty hose, then your outer clothing … WITHOUT getting blood smears all over everything.

Not easy.
And, maybe I’m squeamish, but AFAIAC, used tampons ARE bodily waste and I don’t want to handle them. Would you ask us to wrap up our feces and deposit them in a can?
So. Tampons have been used for over half a century now. Women flush them. That’s how it is.

If seems to me that the plumbing industry needs to suck it up and design their systems to, er, suck them down reliably.

Wrap them up?

Someone at work apparently doesn’t believe in wrapping them up. Every now and then (I don’t know, a few times per month, maybe) I’m greeted by a nice, cheery, rosy pad sitting gleefully atop the trash.

It really is a matter of having adequate (clean, frequently emptied, ideally with a closed top) trash cans. If a woman is balancing above the toilet seat in heels, slightly drunk with her skirt hiked up a new tampon in her teeth, she’ll likely take the easiest route (flushing). A sign should improve things a tad. If you don’t have a trash can at all in a public or even private bathroom, frankly you are asking for trouble. Even the kindest, most sober lady doesn’t want to wander the halls, wrapped tampon in hand, looking for somewhere to dispose it.

I’ve been taught not to flush them and really I think it’s best to always err on the side of caution (i.e. not staring in horror as the toilet overflows) – unless you’re somewhere with an open wastebasket and a dog. The two do not mix.