How should you dispose of used tampons?
Basically, it’s best to wrap a used tampon in either toilet paper or facial tissue and drop it into the garbage. There are also small bags sold for wrapping used menstrual products before disposal.
In the office area or workplace, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) expects used menstrual products, including tampons, to be discarded into lined waste containers so the container doesn’t come in contact with the contents.
The proper handling of this waste by disposing it in the outgoing trash shouldn’t result in people coming in contact with blood.
Generally, OSHA doesn’t consider discarded menstrual products regulated waste. It also doesn’t consider the presence of discarded tampons and other menstrual products, under normal circumstances, to trigger the Bloodborne Pathogens standard.
Why shouldn’t you flush tampons?
Tampons and other menstrual products are basically made of very absorptive materials. When flushed, these products become tangled in the plumbing pipes and/or get saturated with liquid, swollen, and lodged in your plumbing.
This can cause blockages that could result in sewage backflow into your home — a serious health hazard — and costly repairs.
If they make it past your home plumbing, they can clog your hometown’s sewer system, possibly resulting in sewage spilling into streets, basements, and local waterways.
How about toilet paper?
Toilet paper is manufactured to almost immediately break down in the sewer system. Tampons aren’t made to break down like this.
Be aware that facial tissues don’t break down in water like toilet paper. Used tissues should go in the wastebasket, not the toilet.
Also, make sure that all wipes end up in the trash and not the plumbing. Even those labeled as flushable are much stronger than toilet paper and don’t break down.
What to flush and what not to flush
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spends about $19 million every year to clean clogged sewers, dispose of materials causing the clogs, and repair damaged machinery.
Household plumbing damaged by clogs can cost a property owner more than $10,000 to repair.
DEP has issued guidelines of what should and shouldn’t be flushed. Since plumbing and sewer systems are similar around the country, the following rules should be applicable to your hometown as well:
- Only flush human waste (poop, pee, and vomit) and toilet paper.
- Never flush wipes, even if the box is labeled as flushable.
- Never pour grease down kitchen sink drains or into toilets. Instead, seal grease in nonrecyclable containers and discard it with the regular garbage.
- Always put trash in the garbage. This includes:
- all wipes (baby, makeup, cleaning wipes, etc.)
- paper towels
- facial tissues
- menstrual pads
- disposable diapers
- cotton swabs
Should you flush tampons? No. Tampons can cause plumbing blockages that can lead to sewage backflow, which can result in a health hazard and expensive repairs. Only flush human waste and toilet paper.
Commonly, used tampons are wrapped in a facial tissue or toilet paper and put into the garbage.