Can You Flush Food Down the Toilet?

By Thornton Plumbing and Heating

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Living in Salt Lake City, Utah and wondering if you can flush food down your toilet? The short answer is no.



Because the pipes that empty the toilet bowl are too narrow for food scraps. This means food can clog your sewer line, causing a back-up of raw sewage spilling into your home.

Here’s the thing about food. It doesn’t break down as easily and quickly as human waste and toilet paper (which is specifically designed to break down). That’s why those are the only two things that should ever go down the loo.

That said, flushing a bite here and there is unlikely to cause a huge amount of trouble. But don’t make it a habit – you could be contributing to a growing backlog of food in your sewer.

We’ve established that you shouldn’t flush any food down the toilet. But these are the key culprits of sewer blockages:

  • Oils and fats: You know how when you leave your bacon fat and used oil out, it solidifies? It does the same thing if you chuck it down your drain, causing a blockage and constricting sewage flow. As cooking fats gather and harden inside sewers, they collect other bits of debris down the line and form fatbergs that can affect entire communities. In fact, these giant fatbergs can actually affect the sewage system of a whole city.
  • Hard food scraps: You might think that small food scraps, like animal bones, corn cobs, and apple cores, won’t block your drain. However, because they take such a long time to decompose, if they get lodged in place, they’ll harbor fatbergs. These food scraps can even disrupt all of Salt Lake City’s wastewater treatment process. To protect your own home and others’, we recommend just throwing your hard food scraps n the bin.
  • Grains – Rice, oats, and other grains swell when they absorb water. When you flush a bowl of oatmeal, the oats can keep expanding and create a blockage in your sewer line.
  • Starchy foods – Think about the consistency of mashed potatoes or bread, now imagine adding a few gallons of water. If you flush a big glob of spuds, the gelatinous obstruction can easily slow the flow of your sewer pipe.

So Where Should I Throw My Food Away

Instead of flushing food down the toilet when you have food waste to get rid of, consider all your other options.

  • Keep your leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Pour old oil into its original bottle, leave to harden, then toss in the trash.
  • Nearly all of your food scraps can be composted, so sign up to Salt Lake City’s compost program, and separate your compostable scraps for this purpose. If you prefer to go it alone, make your own compost pile.
  • Put your smelliest food scraps (fish skins, soggy meat wrappers, etc.) in a plastic bag and store in the freezer until trash day, when it’s time to add it to your bin. The freezer will help to contain the smelly fumes and stop the growth of mold and bacteria.

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