Can Paper Towels Be Flushed? A Comprehensive Guide to Their Impact & Disposal

Have you ever wondered what happens when you flush paper towels down the toilet? It’s a question that many of us may not think about until faced with a clogged plumbing system or environmental consequences. In this article, we will explore the composition of paper towels, the potential repercussions of flushing them, and safe disposal methods.

If you’ve ever wondered whether or not paper towels can be flushed, this article is for you. And here’s an intriguing fact: Did you know that paper towels are not designed to break down in water like toilet paper? So let’s dive in and uncover the truth about flushing paper towels.

Step into the realm of the mundane and witness the extraordinary. For within the realm of paper towels lies a hidden world of fascination. At first glance, they may appear unremarkable, but delve deeper and unravel the secrets they hold.

A delicate dance of wood pulp and water gives birth to a formidable creation, a material both sturdy and absorbent. But that’s not all. These unassuming paper towels may also harbor secret ingredients, additives that enhance their cleaning prowess.

So, the next time you reach for a paper towel , let it be known that you hold in your hand not just a simple piece of paper, but a meticulously crafted tool , a companion on your quest for convenience .

The Facts at a Glance

  • Paper towels are made of cellulose fibers and are different from toilet paper in terms of composition.
  • Flushing paper towels is not recommended as it can cause plumbing issues and has negative environmental implications.
  • Proper disposal methods for paper towels include recycling, composting, and using reusable alternatives like cloth towels or biodegradable bathroom tissues.

can paper towels be flushed

1/12 How Paper Towels are Different from Toilet Paper

In the realm of tidying up spills and mishaps, it may seem that paper towels and toilet paper possess similarities, but they actually possess distinct qualities. Paper towels excel in their ability to absorb and endure, making them ideal for cleaning and wiping. Conversely, toilet paper is specifically crafted for personal hygiene , designed to dissolve effortlessly when flushed .

It is crucial to select the appropriate paper product for each task and refrain from flushing paper towels down the toilet to evade plumbing complications and obstructions.

2/12 Why You Might Think Flushing Paper Towels is Okay

Flushing paper towels down the toilet is far from harmless. Unlike toilet paper, they don’t break down easily, which can cause blockages in pipes. To avoid expensive repairs and harm to septic systems, it’s crucial to remember that only toilet paper should be flushed.

Dispose of paper towels in the trash instead, protecting both your plumbing and the environment.

3/12 The Truth About Flushing Paper Towels

Disposing of paper towels properly is crucial for both our plumbing systems and the environment. Flushing them down the toilet can lead to blockages and expensive repairs, while also harming aquatic life and contributing to waste and pollution in landfills. Instead, consider recycling or composting paper towels, which not only reduces waste but also enriches soil health.

By making these small changes, we can protect our plumbing and the planet simultaneously.

Why Flushing Paper Towels is a Costly Plumbing Mistake

  • Paper towels are typically made from wood pulp, water, and additives such as bleach and chemicals to increase absorbency.
  • Unlike toilet paper, paper towels are designed to be more durable and absorbent, making them suitable for cleaning up spills and messes.
  • Flushing paper towels down the toilet is not recommended because they are not designed to break down easily in water like toilet paper.
  • When flushed, paper towels can clog your plumbing system, leading to costly repairs and potential damage to your pipes.

4/12 Impact on Your Plumbing System

The Perils of Flushing Paper Towels In the realm of plumbing, a seemingly innocuous act can unleash chaos. Flushing paper towels, though trivial at first glance, possesses the power to wreak havoc upon your delicate pipes. These nonchalant culprits, unlike their toilet paper counterparts, possess an uncanny resilience in water.

Consequently, they stubbornly cling to your plumbing system, birthing blockages that demand exorbitant repairs. The crux of the issue lies in the durability of paper towels. Unlike toilet paper, which rapidly disintegrates upon contact with water, these relentless adversaries retain their strength.

This unfortunate trait renders them susceptible to becoming lodged in your plumbing system , impeding the graceful flow of water and causing unsettling backups . Alas, the troubles do not end with mere clogs. Flushing paper towels poses a grave threat to septic systems as well.

These systems depend on the natural decomposition of waste, a task that eludes paper towels. As these insidious intruders amass within the septic tank, they disrupt the delicate equilibrium of essential bacteria, plunging you into the abyss of costly repairs or necessitating an entirely new septic system. To avert these plumbing nightmares, one must embark upon the noble quest of disposing of paper towels properly.

Instead of recklessly flushing them, a simple act of tossing them into the trash can safeguard the sanctity of your plumbing system, sparing you from unnecessary expenses. Recall, dear reader, that while paper towels may serve as faithful allies in the battle against spills, they were never meant to be flushed. By exercising mindfulness in their disposal, you shall shield yourself from the perils of blockages, the financial burden of repairs, and the desolation of a damaged septic system.

can paper towels be flushed

5/12 Environmental Implications

The Unseen Consequences of Paper Towels In our daily routines, we often overlook the hidden environmental effects of something as seemingly innocuous as paper towels. These convenient household items, while convenient, actually contribute to the growing problem of waste and pollution in our landfills. The truth is, every time we casually toss a paper towel in the trash, it takes an astonishingly long time to decompose in these overflowing landfills.

But the impact doesn’t stop there. Surprisingly, flushing paper towels down the toilet can have dire consequences for aquatic life and delicate ecosystems. Unlike toilet paper, paper towels do not break down easily in water.

This means they can easily clog pipes and end up polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans, posing a significant threat to marine life. So, what can we do to lessen the environmental burden caused by paper towels? The answer lies in proper disposal .

Instead of thoughtlessly flushing or tossing them in the trash, we should consider recycling them. Recycling paper towels not only helps reduce waste but also conserves valuable resources like water and energy. Another eco-friendly option is composting .

By composting paper towels, we can transform them into nutrient-rich soil that acts as a natural fertilizer. This not only significantly reduces waste but also improves the health of our soils. Lastly, let’s explore alternatives to paper towels.

Reusable cloth towels are an excellent choice. They can be easily washed and reused multiple times, saving us money and significantly reducing waste in the long run. Additionally, using biodegradable bathroom tissues can also play a vital role in minimizing our environmental footprint.

By taking the time to be mindful of how we dispose of paper towels and embracing eco-friendly alternatives, we can make a positive impact on our planet and protect our precious ecosystems. Let’s take these small steps together and work towards creating a greener, more sustainable future for all.

can paper towels be flushed

The Dos and Donts of Flushing Paper Towels: How to Dispose of Them Properly

  1. Dispose of paper towels in a proper waste bin, rather than flushing them down the toilet.
  2. If you prefer to recycle paper towels, check if your local recycling program accepts them and follow their guidelines for recycling.
  3. Consider composting paper towels if they are made from natural materials and have not been contaminated by chemicals or cleaning products.
  4. Never flush paper towels down the toilet, as they can cause blockages and damage to your plumbing system.
  5. Remember that paper towels are not designed to break down like toilet paper, so flushing them can lead to clogs and costly repairs.
  6. Be mindful of the environmental impact of flushing paper towels, as they can contribute to pollution and harm aquatic life.
  7. Use reusable cloth towels as an alternative to paper towels, reducing waste and saving money in the long run.
  8. If you prefer disposable options, choose biodegradable bathroom tissues that are specifically designed to break down in water.

6/12 Recycling Paper Towels

The Power of Recycling Paper Towels: A Small Step with a Big Impact In the quest to protect our planet, there is a simple yet profound action we can all take: recycling paper towels. This seemingly small act holds the power to make a significant difference. The true beauty of recycling paper towels lies in its ability to minimize waste and curb landfill pollution.

Instead of allowing them to languish in a desolate landfill for countless years, we have the opportunity to breathe new life into them. By sending them to specialized recycling centers , these absorbent wonders can be transformed into fresh, innovative products. This not only preserves precious landfill space but also lessens the demand for virgin materials in paper production .

To embark on this eco-friendly journey, it is essential to ensure that the paper towels are clean and dry. Remove any remnants of food or contaminants before placing them in the recycling bin. Additionally, it is prudent to check with your local recycling facility to ascertain whether they accept paper towels.

Some locales may have specific guidelines for separating them from other recyclables. The possibilities for recycled paper towels are myriad. They can be reborn as tissue paper or sturdy cardboard, finding new purpose and utility.

Alternatively, they can be employed in composting, enriching the soil with wholesome organic matter. This is particularly advantageous for those with green thumbs, nurturing gardens and sustaining farms. By embracing the practice of recycling paper towels, we can reduce waste, conserve resources, and safeguard our environment.

So, the next time you reach for a paper towel, remember the profound impact you can make by granting it a second chance. Let us unite in our efforts and create a better future, one paper towel at a time.

7/12 Composting Paper Towels

Transform Your Garden’s Health with Composted Paper Towels Revitalize your garden and minimize waste by composting paper towels. Rather than discarding them into landfills, repurpose paper towels into nutrient-dense compost, providing your garden with a natural and beneficial boost. As paper towels decompose within the compost pile, they release organic matter that enriches the soil with vital nutrients.

This fosters healthier plant growth and enhances water retention capabilities. To effectively compost paper towels, follow these straightforward steps. Tear used paper towels into smaller pieces to expedite the decomposition process.

Layer them alongside other compostable materials such as fruit and vegetable scraps, yard waste, and coffee grounds. Striking a proper balance between carbon-rich (paper towels) and nitrogen-rich (food waste) materials is essential for optimal composting . Once the composting process is complete, utilize the composted paper towels as a natural fertilizer in your garden.

Spread the nutrient-rich compost around your plants to enhance soil structure, retain moisture, and promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms. Composting paper towels not only reduces waste but also establishes a sustainable cycle within your garden. By transforming waste into valuable resources, you actively contribute to a healthier environment while enjoying the benefits of flourishing, nutrient-rich soil.

So, instead of discarding that paper towel, consider composting it and nourishing your garden’s vitality.

If you’re dealing with a clogged toilet caused by paper towels, check out our article “How to Unclog a Toilet Clogged with Paper Towels” to learn effective methods to resolve the issue and prevent it from happening again.

can paper towels be flushed

Paper Towel Types and Disposal Methods Tabelle

Type of Paper Towel Flushable or Non-Flushable? Composition/Construction of the Paper Towel Recommended Disposal Method
Regular Paper Towels Non-Flushable Made of wood pulp fibers, often with added chemicals for absorbency Dispose of in the trash
Recycled Paper Towels Non-Flushable Made from recycled paper, may contain chemicals for absorbency Dispose of in the trash
Flushable Paper Towels Flushable Specifically designed to break down in water, made from biodegradable materials Can be flushed down the toilet
Bamboo Paper Towels Non-Flushable Made from bamboo fibers, a sustainable and renewable resource Dispose of in the trash
Microfiber Cloth Non-Flushable Constructed from synthetic fibers such as polyester or nylon Wash and reuse, dispose of in the trash if damaged
Compostable Paper Towels Non-Flushable Made from compostable materials like bamboo, hemp, or sugarcane fibers Dispose of in a compost bin or designated composting facility

8/12 Other Environmentally Friendly Disposal Methods

When it comes to being eco-conscious, there are several alternatives to paper towels that are worth exploring. Bidets, for instance, offer a hygienic and sustainable solution for post-restroom cleanup, replacing paper towels with water. Easy to install and available in various styles, bidets cater to individual preferences.

Another eco-friendly option is to opt for hand dryers instead of paper towels for drying hands. By utilizing warm air, hand dryers reduce waste and preserve trees. Additionally, many hand dryers incorporate energy-saving features, further enhancing their sustainability.

For food storage, reusable silicone bags present a fantastic alternative to paper towels. These bags are not only durable and leak-proof but also contribute to waste reduction . Instead of relying on disposable paper towels to wrap or cover food, one can simply place it in a reusable silicone bag.

These bags can be washed and reused, offering both convenience and eco-friendliness. By embracing these environmentally friendly alternatives , we can diminish our reliance on paper towels and make a positive impact on the environment. So why not give bidets, hand dryers, and reusable silicone bags a try?

Together, through small changes, we have the power to create a significant difference.

9/12 Safe-to-Flush Items

Knowing what can and cannot be flushed down the toilet is essential. While most things should not be flushed, there are a few exceptions. Biodegradable wet wipes, for instance, are safe to flush as they break down in water.

Just be sure to check for the appropriate labeling. Some brands of toilet paper are also designed to be flushable. Look for those that are specifically labeled as such, as they are designed to easily break down in water.

This helps to prevent any potential plumbing issues. Another safe option is bamboo toilet paper. Not only is it made from renewable resources, but its fibers are also biodegradable.

Just make sure to check the packaging to ensure it can be safely flushed. By being mindful of what you flush, you can protect both your plumbing system and the environment. Stick to these safe options and you’ll have peace of mind.

If you’ve ever wondered whether it’s safe to flush paper towels down the toilet, check out our article “Can I Flush Paper Towels?” for all the answers and tips on proper toilet maintenance.

can paper towels be flushed

Did you know that paper towels are made from wood pulp?


My name is Warren and I am a professional plumber licensed and insured in the State of California. I have been in the business for over 10 years and have undertaken small and large projects including bathroom renovation, toilets, garbage disposals, faucets, sinks and kitchen plumbing jobs. This site is based on my experience with toilets. I have installed the best brands and models in all sizes and shapes. I hope this helps you with the unbiased information that you need to make the right decision.


10/12 Items to Avoid Flushing

When it comes to the delicate dance between your toilet and the items you choose to discard, there are certain treasures that should never make their way into the swirling abyss. Wet wipes and sanitary products, though they may appear innocuous, possess a hidden power to wreak havoc upon your plumbing. It is wiser to cast these mischievous culprits into the humble embrace of the trash.

And let us not forget the treacherous path of disposable diapers . These absorbent fiends, crafted to withstand the forces of liquid, harbor a secret agenda to obstruct your pipes and undermine the sanctity of your septic system. A nefarious plot indeed, for their resistance to the gentle caress of water renders them impervious to its attempts at dissolution.

Yet, there exists one final adversary that must be vanquished from your plumbing realm – the insidious duo of grease and oils. These cunning infiltrators possess the power to solidify within the depths of your pipes, erecting an impenetrable fortress of blockages. Fear not, for there is a simple solution to this conundrum.

Gather them within a heat-resistant vessel, and once cooled, dispose of their treacherous presence within the welcoming confines of the trash. Let this be etched into the annals of plumbing wisdom: cling steadfastly to the embrace of toilet paper and the gentle touch of biodegradable products deemed flushable. By evading the clutches of these forbidden items and casting them aside with proper care, you shall not only safeguard the sanctity of your plumbing system but also protect the very fabric of our precious environment.

11/12 Reusable Cloth Towels

The Power of Reusable Cloth Towels: A Sustainable Solution In a world where sustainability is key, reusable cloth towels emerge as a game-changer in the battle against waste. Offering a multitude of benefits, they are a smart choice for any household. What sets reusable cloth towels apart is their remarkable ability to be washed and reused.

By simply tossing them in the laundry, their lifespan is extended, reducing the need for single-use paper towels. This not only saves money but also minimizes waste. With their exceptional absorbency and durability, reusable cloth towels are up to any task.

Whether tackling spills or wiping down surfaces, these towels excel. Crafted from top-quality materials, they are built to withstand repeated use and boast incredible absorption power. Opting for reusable cloth towels also contributes to a healthier environment.

By decreasing the demand for paper towels, we conserve vital resources and reduce landfill waste. Moreover, the production of cloth towels has a significantly lower environmental impact compared to the manufacturing process of their paper counterparts. So, if you seek a sustainable and practical alternative, look no further than reusable cloth towels.

Embrace their absorbency and durability while simultaneously reducing waste . It’s a win-win scenario for your household and our beloved planet.

If you’re curious about the consequences of flushing paper towels down the toilet, check out our article “Flushing Paper Towels” to learn more about the potential issues it can cause.

can paper towels be flushed

Paper towels are a common household item, but can they be flushed down the toilet? In this video, we explore the consequences of flushing paper towels and what happens when they enter your plumbing system. Stay tuned to find out the answer!

YouTube video

12/12 Biodegradable Bathroom Tissues

Embarking on the path of eco-consciousness, choosing biodegradable bathroom tissues is a small yet meaningful step. Crafted from recycled materials, these tissues safeguard the delicate balance of forests and their inhabitants. Unlike conventional toilet paper, they are produced with non-toxic components and sustainable methods, safeguarding our well-being and the planet’s.

Moreover, biodegradable tissues swiftly decompose, curbing landfill waste. By embracing this switch, you champion sustainability and shrink your carbon footprint, paving the way for a verdant tomorrow.


In conclusion, it is important to understand that paper towels should not be flushed down the toilet. While it may be tempting to do so for convenience, flushing paper towels can cause significant damage to your plumbing system and have negative environmental implications. Paper towels are made of stronger fibers than toilet paper, making them less likely to dissolve in water and more likely to clog pipes.

Additionally, flushing paper towels contributes to unnecessary waste and can harm water treatment facilities. It is crucial to properly dispose of paper towels by either recycling or composting them. Alternatively, consider using reusable cloth towels or biodegradable bathroom tissues as more sustainable alternatives.

By following proper toilet etiquette and being mindful of what can and cannot be flushed, we can protect our plumbing systems and the environment. Thank you for reading and be sure to check out our other articles for more helpful tips and information.

If you’re dealing with the hassle of flushing paper towel down the toilet, be sure to check out our informative article on “The Dangers of Flushing Paper Towel Down the Toilet” to learn about the potential consequences and how to avoid this plumbing nightmare.


What happens if you flush a paper towel?

Paper towels do not break down in the sewer system, regardless of their location. One important characteristic of paper towels is that they expand when they become wet. This expansion occurs when they are introduced into the sewer system, causing them to reach their maximum absorption size and remain in that state. This poses a significant risk for potential blockages in both the sewer service line and the main sewer.

Is it OK to flush one paper towel?

Please avoid flushing paper towels, wipes, or facial tissues down the toilet as they can cause blockages in your plumbing system and put a strain on our sewage pumps.

Will paper towel dissolve in toilet?

When you flush paper towels down the toilet, they do not break apart like toilet paper. Instead, they can build up in your pipes over time. This can cause the paper towels to become stuck in the narrow pipes, causing a blockage. As a result, you may experience sewage backups and encounter other serious plumbing problems. Fixing these issues can be expensive. Therefore, it is important to avoid flushing paper towels to prevent such costly plumbing emergencies.

Does paper towel dissolve in septic tank?

Parry cautions against flushing paper towels in the septic system, emphasizing that although they may appear flushable, they do not break down effectively.

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