What Not to Flush

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What should you flush? Only human waste and toilet paper.

Never Flush Medications

Please do not dispose of expired or unused medications in the sink or toilet. Wastewater treatment does not completely remove drugs and traces will end up in the San Francisco Bay. Our community offers many safe disposal options for drugs that protect you, your family, and our waterways.

Remove personal information from container labels or combine pills and capsules and seal in a plastic bag. Leave liquids and creams in their original containers (black out personal information) and seal in a plastic bag.

These locations accept both controlled* and non-controlled drugs (home-generated drugs only):
  • Dublin Police Services, 100 Civic Plaza, Dublin (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), plus semi-annual drug take-back events
  • Pleasanton Police Department, 4833 Bernal Avenue, Pleasanton (24-hour lobby)
  • San Ramon Police Department, 2401 Crow Canyon Road, San Ramon (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste Facilities accept non-controlled drugs only. For information about other Alameda County disposal locations visit Alameda County Environmental Health.

*Controlled drugs include sleeping pills, pain killers, behavioral drugs, cough syrup with codeine, and other drugs with great potential for abuse or addiction (see complete list).

Toilet, text: The toilet is not a trash can!

Never Flush Diapers, or Feminine Hygiene Products

These products do not disintegrate in water as quickly as toilet paper and often cause clogs in public sewer mains. Put these items in the trash, not the toilet.

See the results when Consumer Reports and the Water Environment Federation tested so-called flushable products. If wipes can clog large sewer mains, they can definitely clog your home’s sewer lateral, requiring you to pay a plumber to clear the blockage.

Watch the "Wipes Clog Pipes" video, courtesy of Contra Costa Central Sanitary District.

Learn more: 15 Things You Should Never, Ever Flush Down a Toilet

Never Flush Sharps

photo of hand placing syringe in a red sharps disposal containerTo protect the workers who handle our trash, it is illegal in California to put medical “sharps” in the trash. Never flush sharps because they can injure wastewater workers. Collect syringes, lancets, and Epi-pens in an approved sharps container (sold at pharmacies and available online). Safe disposal options include:

These options are for home-generated sharps only.

Never Flush Hazardous Household Chemicals or Grease

Never dump these hazardous wastes into the trash, sink, toilet, gutter, or storm drain:

  • Batteries, fluorescent lights bulbs and tubes, mercury thermometers, and thermostats
  • Solvent-based glue, paint, strippers, wood preservatives, and nail polish
  • Antifreeze, engine cleaners and degreasers, gasoline, and motor oil
  • Fertilizers and pesticides
  • Pool and spa water and pool chemicals
  • Fats, oil and grease

Many common products contain hazardous chemicals that can pollute our groundwater, creeks, rivers, and bays. Visit the websites below to learn how to safely recycle or dispose of household hazardous waste. 

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