What happens to ‘it’ after you flush?

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Flushing the toilet after using it is like deleting a file on your computer. You know it goes somewhere but you don’t know where exactly that ‘somewhere’ is.

Many people assume that flushing medications, condoms, sanitary towels, hair and baby wipes down the toilet is permissible despite some of these items clearly stipulating a ‘Do not flush down the toilet’ warning on their packaging.

It is important to know what happens after you flush the toilet. This helps us understand that the foreign objects we throw down the toilet have a life after your bathroom and this journey may cause blockages elsewhere.

The journey of excretion, after being flushed out of your home is a complicated one so here is a summary to break it down:

What really happens when you flush the toilet?

In South Africa, we have two drainage systems. One system allows for cleaner water (such as: water from your laundry, washing the dishes, rain water dripping from your roof, etc.) to pass through. The other drainage system allows waste that comes from your bathroom, i.e. water from taking a shower, flushing the toilet, having a bath, etc. to pass through.

Cleaner water can be recycled and in most cases, it is. According to Biosystems SA, the management of this wastewater is split into two separate divisions:

Conveyance: This allows for sewage to be transported from your house to The Wastewater Treatment Works. This journey can take place over a period three days or more.

Processing: Waste water is processed and recycled.  After all impurities have been removed from the water by the wastewater treatment plant, the water finds its way to the nearest lakes and rivers.

It is important to remember that heavy-duty machinery is used to break down and sterilise dirty water and that adding foreign objects to your drains and toilets may affect this process.

Ensure that you always use a good multipurpose bleach product when you clean and disinfect your toilet.