Can You Flush Bandaids Down The Toilet? (Can They Expire?)

A bandaid remains a stable component in most first aid kits. In fact, no matter how stocked your medicine cabinet looks, if you don’t have several adhesive bandages at your disposal, you are yet to get prepared for some of those unfortunate moments.

A bandaid will cover your blood wounds to minimize bleeding, prevent contamination, and catalyze your healing. And for most people,  using this item is a straightforward affair. Even so, the vast majority don’t know the correct way to dispose of it once it has served its purpose.

A typical person will opt to flush it down the toilet. Sure, the toilet is an easy, convenient, and popular way to get rid of household items – and for the majority of them, it works just fine. But just before you toss that bloody bandaid inside your toilet, wait a moment. Is it OK to flush bandaids down the toilet?

Are Bandaids Flushable?

Unfortunately, bandaids aren’t flushable. They may look small, but bandaids can create great trouble for your toilet’s plumbing system when they get down there. That’s why the next time you unwrap one from a wound, find alternative ways of getting rid of it.

It’s normal to think your toilet can safely swallow up something like bandaids. After all, it handles human waste and several other stuff just fine. However, when it comes to bandaids, they can wreak havoc the moment you whoosh them away down your dear toilet.

Bandaids usually come with nonbiodegradable materials. Most of them are made of flexible fabric or plastic and have a cotton adhesive strip. The area covering the wound has a glue-like acrylic substance to make wrapping the piece around a would easy.

What I mean is that bandaids usually come in non-flushable materials. Once these materials get down the toilet, they’ll take a lot of time to decompose, preventing your plumbing system from working efficiently.

Sure, a piece of an adhesive bandage once in a blue moon will likely not cause anything serious to your toilet. But again, if you’ve ever landed yourself in a plumbing emergency, then you know why you should always shy off the slightest risks when it comes to your sewer system.

Any gremlins arising from your toilet’s plumbing system (which is more likely than you probably) will cost you an arm and a leg to get things back to normal – something no homeowner would want.

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Can Bandaids Clog Drains?

Yes, bandaids can clog drains. The adhesive part of the bandaid may stick to other items making clogs very likely. As such, don’t even think of flushing the next bandaid you remove from your wound down the toilet.

Bandaids definitely look harmless when they come from a would. But believe me, they could be the only remaining ingredient your toilet needs to ruin your day – and sometimes several of them!

Most bandaids are 100% waterproof. That’s why the bandage won’t come out when you expose it to water. That’s a plus point, of course, but it can also be the very reason your toilet will clog once you dispose of this bandage in it.

The sticky substance on bandaids will retain its adhesive power even when it goes down there. Hence, it may stick to other items going down the toilet, forming a huge clump of matter that may attract clogs. It gets even worse when the first thing it traps is hair!

Can Bandaids Expire?

Yes, bandaids expire after several years, more often three to five years. When that happens, they lose their adhesiveness and sterility, making them ineffective for their primary job.

It could be that you bought a box of bandaids and noticed that the manufacturer didn’t indicate the expiry date. Well, it happens. In fact, most of the bandaids don’t come with an expiry date.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean the product is safe for use for eternity. No, not at all! Like any other thing in your first aid kit, bandaids can also lose their effectiveness after some time.

Most bandaids are safe for use 3 to 5 years after the date of manufacture. Within this time, bandaids still have their adhesive and sterile properties working well. But after this period elapses, most adhesive bandages tend to lose their stickiness and sterility.

So yes, three to five years is the shelf life for most bandaids. But it’s good to be sure – at least for medical supplies. As such, if you can’t see the expiry date on the box of bandaids you bought, contact the manufacturer to find out.

However, before you go to that extent, ensure that you double-check the packaging for these dates. Sometimes the dates may not be easy to see at first. But with a keen look at the product and box, you should see them if at all they are there.

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Can Bandages Be Reused?

Yes, most bandages are reusable and will work fine for several uses. However, others like bandaids work best with single-use. The adhesive strip in bandaids loses some of its stickiness and may not work as well for the second or third applications as they did the first.

Bandaids work with bloody wounds and use adhesives to stick to the target area of application. As such, when you peel it off, you likely will notice some bloodstains on it. That’s why it’s generally not a good idea to return it. In addition, some of the bandaid’s stickiness goes with the first application, making it somewhat weak and risky to use for a second time.

However, when speaking of other types of bandages, for instance, the self-adherent variety, they are safe for reuse after washing. Unlike their counterparts, these bandages do not rely on an adhesive to stick around your arm. That’s why you can unwind the bandage and reapply it if you don’t get it correctly on the first try.

10 Common Items That You Should Not Flush Down The Toilet

Although bandaids will cause trouble in your toilet’s plumbing system, they are just one of the things that may attract issues. We have several other household items that should neither go down your toilet. They include;

1. Baby Wipes

While it may share lots of its uses with tissue, baby wipes shouldn’t follow the same route as tissue when it comes to disposal. Unlike tissue that readily dissolves in water, baby wipes retain their shape even after they sink through your toilet opening – and that includes the “flushable” types. As such, baby wipes may clog or cause several issues to the septic system.

2. Fats Oil and Grease (FOGs)

The next time you prepare a delicious meal and have some oil residue in the pan, find an alternative way to get rid of it other than tossing it in your toilet. FOGs congeal after they cool down and may build up on the inside walls of your toilet’s plumbing system. That will block material from passing, which may cause clogs.

3. Hair

While it may look harmless, the hair you clean from your hairbrush can be dangerous after going down the toilet. Hair may tangle and catch other objects using the same path, causing clogs and other plumbing issues you may not want to face.

4. Feminine Products

Feminine products often find themselves inside the toilet sewer system. However, that’s not the right place for them. Their high absorbency can absorb a great deal of moisture, making them stand in the way of other materials. In addition, the majority have polyethylene elements in them, which is an environmentally harmful plastic.

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5. Feline Litter

No, your waste and that of your feline aren’t the same – and your toilet knows that! Unlike human waste, your pet’s droppings contain clay and sand, two dangerous elements to go down the drainage system. In addition, cat litter may carry some parasites which can be potentially harmful to sea otters and seals.

6. Cigarette Butts

A cigarette isn’t just bad for your lungs. It’s also harmful to your toilet, especially the butts. Much like bandaids and baby wipes, the material used for cigarette butts doesn’t break down quickly. Cigarette butts also contain several chemicals that can be dangerous to some sea creatures.

7. Medication

While it looks like a brilliant way of getting rid of unused pills, flushing old prescription medication is generally not recommended. Those old drugs in your medicine cabinet can be toxic to living creatures when they get into the water. It applies to both tablets and liquid drugs contained in vial bottles.

8. Paper Towels

Unlike tissue that dissolves in water, paper towels absorb moisture. That may cause them to expand when they come into contact with the water inside your toilet’s drainage system. As such, paper towels will trap anything you flush afterward, causing drainage issues.

9. Dental Floss

Dental floss is neither safe for disposal through your toilet pipeline. The nylon or Teflon material won’t break down easily in water, and that will cause issues in your drainage system. In fact, the floss may even wrap around other items passing going through the plumbing system and cause clogs. So yes, once you use dental floss, toss it inside your garbage can.

10. Cotton Balls and Swabs

If you thought that bandage was the only thing from your first aid kit that shouldn’t go into your toilet, think again! Cotton balls and swabs are also a no-no for your toilet’s piping system – and for the very reason, feminine products and paper towels are:  they’ll absorb water and make clogs likely.

Final Verdict

Although they don’t look like it, bandaids can cause costly issues to your sewer system. That’s why you should never flush bandaids down your toilet.

The same applies to other common items like medications, dental floss, baby wipes, FOGs, and others discussed in this article. Once you use bandaid, the safest way to dispose of it is to wrap it with tissue and toss it in the trash.

About Sarah Walker

Sarah is a homemaker and is passionate about fixing little things in and around her house. She loves to do DIY hacks and keeps on writing about those things in her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her twins Cathy and Mickey.