Don't flush it!

Things like paper towel, tissues, napkins, nappies, cotton buds, sanitary items and wipes belong in the bin.

They should not be flushed down the toilet, because they don’t break down like toilet paper and can cause blockages and smelly overflows. Yuck!

Not only do blockages wreak havoc with our sewerage systems, customers can be left with expensive plumbing and repair bills.

You can help to keep the sewerage system and our environment clean by putting a rubbish bin next to your toilet and talking to your families about what can and cannot be flushed.

Products may include a ‘do-not-flush’ (top) or ‘flushable’ (bottom) label. If there is no label, assume the product isn’t flushable. Figure 4.1 from AS/NZS 5328:2022. © Standards Australia Limited/Standards New Zealand 2022.

The 3 Ps

Only the 3 Ps should be flushed down the toilet – that is poo, pee and (toilet) paper.

There is a standard (AS/NZS 5328, Flushable Products) for testing and labelling ‘flushable’ products, but be aware that some products may carry a similar looking symbol and not meet the standard.

Avoid flushing wipes and other rubbish and use the bin instead – you’ll save water as well as help prevent blockages.

Cooking fats and oils

Avoid putting cooking oils, fats and milk down the sink. Fats solidify on cooling and are a common cause of sewer blockages.

  • Wipe your pots and pans down with a paper towel and put the paper in the bin.
  • Instead of pouring oils, fats and milk down the sink, drain them into a container and put them in the bin.
  • Always make sure you let the oils and fats cool to a safe temperature before handling.

Food scraps and labels

Individually, small scraps of food and other waste might not seem a problem, but they clump together in the sewerage system.

  • Vegetable peelings and food scraps belong in the compost or the bin. Some councils provide food organics, garden organics (FOGO) bins for this.
  • Use a sink strainer and empty the strainer into the bin or compost heap.
  • Before rinsing fruit, remove the label. These small, sticky labels are non-biodegradable.

Paints, pesticides and hazardous chemicals

Hazardous chemicals used for home and garden maintenance, such as paints and pesticides, can corrode pipes and damage the environment. They also pose a health threat to our maintenance staff working on sewers.

Contact you local council for safe disposal options.

You can drop off household chemicals at Sustainability Victoria’s Detox Your Home events.

If you use oil-based paints, rollers and brushes should be cleaned in turpentine and the paint/turps mixture allowed to evaporate down to a sludge for disposal in the bin.

For water-based paints, paint out brushes or rollers on scrap material and rinse them over the garden.

Hygiene products

Never flush nappies, sanitary napkins, tampons, incontinence pads, bandages, cotton buds or condoms down the toilet. These products commonly cause sewer blockages.

All these items should be put in the rubbish bin.


More than 400 tonnes of medicines are thrown out each year in Australia and one of the most common means of disposal is down the sink or toilet.

Return expired or unused medicines to any community pharmacy that participates in the Return Unwanted Medicines project.


The average household uses three times more detergent than the manufacturers recommend.

Many washing powders contain sodium salts as bulking agents; some powders are 20% salt and reduce the quality of recycled water.

  • Reduce the amount of detergent and laundry powder you use.
  • Choose phosphate-free products.
  • Select laundry products low in sodium; either liquid concentrates or powdered products that use potassium salts.

Pet poo

For pet owners with access to an outdoor space, we recommend you dispose of your pet’s waste in a pet poo composter. Simply scoop the poo into the composter, and the worms will return it to soil. The compost can be used on ornamental plants, but NEVER on vegetable gardens or fruit trees due to the risk of disease spread. Note that compostable or biodegradable bags should not be used.

If you don’t have access to outdoor space, or would prefer not to compost, please check with your local council about how best to dispose of pet waste.

Please don’t flush the waste down the toilet, especially not with any kitty litter or bags. This will minimise the risk of disease transmission and sewer blockages.