Sustainability made simple

Can You Flush Condoms?

can you flush condoms
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Anqa

How do you dispose of a condom? Can you flush condoms? We’ll walk you through the reasons why you should NEVER flush a condom down the toilet.

Condoms are a form of contraception that not only prevents pregnancy but also provides protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They are one of the most commonly used methods of birth control and for good reason: they’re easy to use, widely available, and relatively inexpensive.

But when it comes to disposing of condoms, most of us have one burning question – can you flush condoms? In general, the answer is no, you should never flush condoms down your toilet. If you’re in the habit of flushing condoms, you’re not only doing harm to your plumbing system but damaging the environment too.

Are There Any Types of Condoms You Can Flush Down the Toilet?

Latex condoms are the most effective at preventing both pregnancy and STIs.
Latex condoms are the most effective at preventing both pregnancy and STIs. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / kerryank)

Latex Condoms

Condoms come in a variety of sizes, shapes, as well as materials. Latex is a naturally occurring rubber and when used as a condom, is the most effective at preventing both pregnancy and STIs. Besides condoms, latex is the most common material used for items like balloons and surgical gloves due to its high resistance to stress.

However, just because latex is naturally occurring does not mean that it can be flushed! While 100% natural latex is technically biodegradable, it can take anywhere from 6 months to 4 years to fully decompose. The latex used for condoms, on the other hand, is often chemically treated to aid preservation against bacterial decomposition, making it essentially non-biodegradable. Can you flush latex condoms? No.

Polyurethane Condoms

Polyurethane condoms are another type of condom. They are made of thin plastic material and are thinner than latex condoms. They are also effective against pregnancy and STIs, but they cannot be used with oil-based lubricants. Since they are made of plastic they are never biodegradable and cannot be flushed down the toilet.

“Biodegradable” Condoms

Although some condoms claim to be biodegradable, this does not mean you should flush them down the toilet. The conditions for some products to call themselves biodegradable vary. With most plastic alternatives, such as in the case of condoms, very specific environmental conditions must be met such as extreme heat or bacterial levels.

Even biodegradable or “natural” latex condoms are made of a non-water-soluble material flexible and strong enough to survive flushing. Unlike toilet paper and human feces, which are organic and water-soluble, condoms can stay in the sewer for years.

Why Shouldn’t You Flush Condoms?

Can you flush condoms? No, as they cause plumbing problems and harm the environment.
Can you flush condoms? No, as they cause plumbing problems and harm the environment. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / aitoff)

Now that we’ve looked at the different types of condoms, let’s answer the burning question – why exactly shouldn’t you flush condoms? Here are the two main reasons:

  1. They can clog your plumbing system. Condoms are made from materials that don’t break down easily in water. Condoms flushed down the drain can damage your plumbing system, septic tank, and sewer lines.
  2. It pollutes the environment and endangers animals. Even if your condoms make it through your home’s plumbing system, they will eventually end up in a pile of sewage or be released into the ocean. The presence of condoms in the water pollutes it with chemicals and microplastics. For the same reasons that balloons are dangerous to the environment, condoms have the potential to get stuck in an animal’s stomach, or worse, kill marine life.

Disposing of Used Condoms Properly

Throw your used condoms in the garbage. That's the best method of disposal.
Throw your used condoms in the garbage. That’s the best method of disposal. (Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition)

So if you can’t flush condoms, how do you properly dispose of them? The best way to dispose of used condoms is to wrap them in eco-friendly toilet paper and then throw them in the trash. If you’re at a public restroom, you should check the wastebasket to see if there is a designated container for disposing of condoms. Some restrooms have a special trash can with a sign that says “For Condom Disposal Only”.

In a situation where you don’t have easy access to a garbage bin, keep your used condom until you can find a trash can to throw it in. Following these tips will help ensure that condoms are disposed of properly and don’t end up in the environment or the water supply.

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