The toilet: your best friend in the morning, refuge after a heaping bowl of your favorite chili, your non-responsive confidant after a night of drinking, and your sanctuary far away from everything else in the world. Whether you admit it or not, toilets are modern contraptions that none of us can actually live without. Not to over exaggerate, but 90 percent of human civilization would probably go crazy and start a war if toilets mysteriously vanished off the face of the world.

The sad truth about toilets
Although it’s regarded as one of the most essential appliances needed in most types of homes, we tend to take the toilet for granted no matter how much we use it, especially when we do something that’s absolutely terrible for the grand throne’s health: we throw almost anything and everything in it. You may deny it now, but the truth is that most, if not all people throw any item they want to discard and flush it down the toilet bowl. While you might think that your worries are gone once the sound of a flush comes along, you’re actually sadly mistaken. There’s a storm a-brewing and it’s most likely going to be a broken toilet.

Unlike most appliances in your home, the need for your toilet encompasses seasons and times of day in terms of when you need it. No matter what hour of the day it is, or what day of the year it is, you’ll always need to use your toilet every day unless you’re away. This is, coincidentally, exactly why you shouldn’t flush just anything in it.

What you shouldn’t be flushing down your toilet
Unless it’s a number 1 or 2, nothing else should be flushed down your toilet, and that’s a fact. While you might be unaware of what you actually flush out through the trust bathroom appliance, ignorance is no excuse for what should be followed (or in this case, toilet law). Therefore, it’s important to know what or what not to flush when using your toilet.

The reason why it’s so important to not flush anything else down the toilet is that the presence of unnecessary items may cause it to clog, not function properly, and eventually break (along with your home’s pipes, in most cases). In order to keep your toilet working properly and your life at home sewage overflow-free, here are a few common items that should never be flushed down the toilet:

1. Paper towels, wipes, tampons, cotton, bandages, and other sanitary items
This product category is usually governed by a certain unspoken rule: “if you’ve used it on your skin, then it should not go in [the toilet.]” As some of the most common toilet cloggers and causes for toilet breakage, paper towels, wipes, tampons, bandages, cotton, and other hygienic materials are not prone to decay whatsoever, which can cause the problem of clogging to become much more severe because of the fact that these materials don’t break down very easily. It’s important to know that you should be throwing your sanitary items in the bin instead, which is where they’re supposed to be designated anyway.

2. Oil and grease
Contrary to the common misconception that “liquid will mix with liquid” (which is commonly used as a justification for putting oil and grease down the toilet), flushing grease and oil down your toilet will actually cause it to clog in a very devastating fashion. The science behind oil and grease causing major clogs is that they don’t degrade or mix with water, and over time, these two substances can harden in colder temperatures and eventually solidify into one whole chunk that will block your toilet and eventually break it.

3. Cigarettes
Now, before you go flushing your cigarette butts down the drain, it’s important to know that the damage doesn’t just stop with your lungs. It also carries onto the water as well. When cigarettes or cigarette butts are flushed down the toilet, their non-biodegradable nature will make your toilet bowl’s pathways prone to blockage. This can contaminate the body of water it ends up in with carcinogens and other nasty cancer-causing substances. While throwing your finished cigarette down the toilet bowl and forgetting the guilt with the push of a plunger might seem like an easy solution for disposal, it’s important to consider the implications of forcing your bad habits down the literal drain.

4. Chewing gum
Although they might seem biodegradable because you well, chew them, pieces of gum aren’t degradable. They can certainly clog up your toilet when you least expect it. Aside from acting as an actual blockage itself, chewing gum can also cause smaller non-biodegradable items that you flush down the drain onto it, speeding up the process of blocking your toilet even more.

5. Dead animals
While most of you reading this might recall a scene from any movie where a little girl flushes their dead goldfish down the toilet, the fact that flushing dead animals down the toilet can cause serious blockage might could probably be unbeknownst to you. Although it may seem like the general consensus on the best way to get rid of dead pets (such as fish, snakes, chicks, etc.) is to flush them onto the afterlife, the truth is these animal carcasses will block off the passage that your toilet uses to dispose of waste. In addition, flushing dead animals down the toilet can lead to pipes bursting and your toilet breaking altogether due to the terrible mix of water pressure and the size of the animal causing the blockage.