Thursday, November 09, 2017

To flush or not to flush?

(This is a semi-gross topic. Consider yourself warned.)

One of Rebecca’s classes was canceled this week because the house where she takes it had some plumbing issues. That’s a polite way to say sewage flooded their basement because the pipes from the toilets were clogged.

Team Good News: the remediation people. They showed up right away and cleaned up the sewage so the nastiness in the basement was all gone.

Team Bad News: the plumbers. They told the homeowners the clog was due in large part to tampons that had been flushed down the toilet.

The plumber told the teacher, “Flushing tampons is like flushing cement.”

(And you thought the sewage back-up was the gross part…)

Y’all. I am not one of those women who talks about tampons or periods or other personal things relating to the bathroom. That’s a big no-no for polite conversation. That I’m even writing about it is physically hurting my fingers as I type. But when Rebecca’s teacher told me what happened I knew I had to ask:

Who knew flushing tampons was a bad thing?

I have assumed my whole menstruating life that tampons were made of paper and, just like toilet paper, could be flushed with abandon. Obviously you don’t throw plastic in the toilet, so the applicator goes in the trash, but the actual, used tampon? Flush away!

We’ve all seen signs like this one:

But my thought was always, “I cannot believe they have to hang this up! Who throws things other than paper in the toilet?!” 

Who's to blame for this potential plumbing disaster? My mother never told me you couldn’t flush them. The teacher said her mom didn’t either. But when the teacher asked her sister, she said, “Of course everyone knows not to flush them!” 

Hey, sister - not everyone! Because when I Googled, “Can you flush tampons?” I got 348,000 results in 0.88 seconds. 
Clearly this is a question many have asked, but only to Google, apparently.

Let’s go to the source that’s not the Internet, I decided. I ran upstairs and got my box of Playtex tampons so I could read the instructions. In black and white they clearly state you can flush or place in the trash. Their online instructions are the same. But when the teacher looked up Tampax’s instructions, they clearly state NOT to flush.

Why is there no International Board of Tampon Instructions? I’m usually against that type of thing but in this case, I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be helpful…

So my question to you, dear readers (if any of you are still reading) is did you know this? Is this just some common knowledge that I missed? Do most women talk about tampons? Is this type of conversation really happening anywhere in the world?

I am now on a mission to erase my search history and the text conversation with Rebecca’s teacher. Because if I die today, I do not want anyone opening my laptop and seeing how many times I searched, “Can you flush tampons?” or “Are tampons biodegradable?”

I am seeing the flaw in this as I prepare to publish this on my blog…

Of course, when I finally do publish this, Sean will be so happy, because he has never talked about tampons ever before. And he is ready to never talk about them again.

I bet Rebecca's teacher feels the same.