Can You Flush Paper Towels?

Do we have such doubts as whether it is permissible to throw a paper towel used somewhere into a toilet bowl?

Perhaps you were using the public toilet to dry your hands after spilling something. Paper towels do not specifically decompose in water as toilet paper does. Can you flush them, then? 

A lot of people have a query can you flush paper towels down the toilet? 

The answer is not because the wrong items block your pipes and possibly harm them when flushed down the toilet. In the worst situation, your home has a sewage backup.  

Sewage Backup

Why You Should Not Flush Paper Towels?

Even though much of this can be solved by simply washing paper towels in the toilet, it has the following grave consequences:

  • Clogged Pipes
  • Sewer System Strain 
  • Septic Tank Trouble 
  • Environmental Impact 

Clogged Pipes: 

Paper towels are general purpose and maintain their structural integrity while toilet paper is meant to be scattered and biodegradable. This is because they can quickly block the pipes that run through your home and cause backups and costly repairs.

Sewer System Strain: 

Regardless of whether they pass through your pipes, the remains of flushed paper towels may be causing blockages in municipal sewage systems.

These clogs are capable of interfering with the processes of wastewater treatment and result in the formation of overflows.

Septic Tank Trouble: 

But when you are using a septic tank, then you had better beware of paper towels.

However, they are not easily decomposed in the tank, which results in the accumulation of ‘solids’ that ultimately interfere with the proper running of the system.

Environmental Impact: 

Using the flush to dispose of anything but toilet paper puts pressure on WWTPs, which is unnecessary. This can, in turn, contribute to increased energy consumption or, in some cases, even pose a threat to the environment. 

One thing you must keep in mind is that it not depends on the length and size of paper towels. Paper towels of any quality or length cannot be flushed down the toilet.

However, you can read our how long is a paper towel roll guide to find the ideal paper towels for household use.

Despite all these consequences, there are always better ways of disposing of the used paper towel.

The Differences Between Toilet Paper and Paper Towels

Let us compare the composition of toilet paper and paper towels and the problems that you can face when you flush paper towels. 

At the end of it all, you will get to know whether it is appropriate to discard such paper towels in the toilet.

Material Composition
Purpose Cleaning
Toilet Papers
Short, disintegrable fibers
Designed for toilets and sewage systems
Breaks down quickly in water
Paper Towels
Longer, stronger fibers
Designed for wiping
Disintegrates slower than toilet paper
No (can clog pipes)

Potential Consequences of Flushing Paper Towels

Paper towel flushing results in several unpleasant and costly side effects: 

1. Clogged Toilets

A blocked toilet is one of the most noticeable and significant issues, impacting not only the health of residents in their homes or companies but also the convenience of those who will use such facilities.

Clogged Toilet

2. Plumbing costs

The cost of employing a plumber to unclog pipes might be considerable. Prolonged difficulties may require expensive plumbing repair, such as replacing pipes. 

3. Sewer Backups 

Sewer backups brought on by significant obstructions result in water damage to your house or place of business. 

4. Environmental Impact

Paper towels wind up in natural water bodies, adding to pollution and endangering animals if they get past the filtering systems of water treatment facilities. 

Proper Disposal Methods for Paper Towels

It’s critical to dispose of paper towels properly because of the possible issues with flushing them. Here are a few suggested techniques:


Think about composting your paper towels if you use non-toxic, unbleached ones. This is a sustainable choice that will improve your soil.

composting paper towels in bin

Recycling (if applicable): 

Typical paper towels cannot be recycled because of their fiber composition and the possible contamination with food waste and other substances. 

Paper towel kinds that may be recycled vary depending on the recycling regulations in your area. Consult your local trash management authorities beforehand.

recycling symbol for paper towels

Expert Opinions on Flushing Paper Towels

Experts agree that flushing paper towels is harmful to both the environment and plumbing infrastructure. The following are some opinions of experts that give you a better answer to the question “Can you flush paper towels”:


According to the majority of plumbers, paper towel-related obstructions are a common source of service calls. They stress that paper towels are not appropriate for flushing because of their durability. 


Waste management authorities frequently draw attention to the burden that paper towels and other non-flushable products have on sewage systems. They support public awareness initiatives that instruct locals on safe disposal practices. 

Environmental Scientists: 

Environmental scientists discourage flushing paper towels because it can contaminate water and harm aquatic habitats. 

scientist discouraging paper towels

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can Be Flushed Down the Toilet?

Some products can be flushed down the toilet like packs of wet wipes that are specially designed to be flushed. 

Since not all flushable wipes are created equal, therefore, to confirm they can effectively be flushed, what one needs to do is to read the label and follow the instructions given by the manufacturer.

What should happen if Paper Towels are flushed?

If you flush paper towels by accident, search for signs of blockage in your plumbing in the form of slow draining or the production of unusual sounds.

To clear a clog, there may be a requirement to use a plunger or call a plumber.

What Are Some Good Ways to Teach People About Not Flushing Paper Towels?

Raising awareness is crucial. Make it a point to let all your friends, relatives, and even your workplace acquaintances know about the dangers and the right manner of disposing of the said product.

You may also campaign for better signages, especially in ownership for women and Men, and partake in environmental campaigns within your region or community.


This is not a good idea, especially if you flush paper towels down the toilet. As you’ve already seen, toilet paper dissolves quickly in water; however, paper towels are designed to be absorbent, which is why they must be thick.

This is because flushing it down the drain can soon block the pipes, resulting in a sewage backup, the need for a new drain and pipe system, and environmental damage.

To avoid these issues, dispose of the paper towel after usage. If you are concerned about the environment, seek paper towels that are biodegradable or recycled.

By adhering to the simple guidelines of using the plumbing system stated above, you guarantee that the plumbing system remains healthy and the environment is protected.

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