Don’t Rinse Pads – Trust Me and My Expensive Plumbing Bill

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When I read an article (on this same site!) A few years ago sharing the mind-boggling news that we shouldn’t throw tampons down the toilet, I categorized this information as “Meh, whatever” .

It’s not that I didn’t believe this advice was true and precise; it’s just that I couldn’t understand this reality. I mean, I had been throwing tampons in the toilet for 25 years without a problem. All of those horror stories about clogged pipes and expensive plumbing bills must be in old houses with old plumbing. Surely that couldn’t be true for everyone. Could he?

For a few months after learning this new – and frankly, life-changing – information, I felt a little guilty every time I changed a tampon. I kept rinsing the tampons, but now I was doing it by crossing my fingers and praying a little that it wouldn’t come back. I mean, come on. If I didn’t empty it, what was I supposed to do with it? Put it in the trash? No thanks.

Sure, I saw the signs in the public restrooms and on the back of the box telling us not to rinse the tampons, but they were talking about the applicator, right? Of course, I never rinsed them. But that fucking stump that you pulled out of your body that could be emptied, right? This is surely the only option that makes sense.

Fast forward a few years and I have now reclassified “don’t rinse tampons” to “Lessons Learned the Hard Way” category. Also, a shower curtain bar is not strong enough to support the weight of a teenager. #True story

A few weeks ago, we started to notice a funky smell in one of our bathrooms. Like rotten eggs. Uh, it’s strange, I was thinking. Then my son complained that the tub would not drain. Like at all. Then the toilet completely stopped flushing and no diving did the trick.

Sigh. I think we need to call a plumber, I told my husband.

Well you can guess where this story is going… $ 800 and a finger “stop rinsing feminine products” from the plumber later and the problem was solved. In fact, he didn’t tell me once, not twice, but thrice, that he had released “a lot of feminine products”. (And yes, he kept saying “feminine products” like a high school health teacher in the 80s.)

Now that I’ve had time to recover from the hefty price tag, my answer is: WTAF ?! Did the tampons cause this? I still don’t believe it. I mean, I’ve been rinsing tampons for over 30 years without a problem. I would love to say that I have learned my lesson and will never rinse another tampon again, but I am a down-to-earth person and old habits die hard.

Part of me still thinks the problem was caused by the two paper towels my son threw away and I was too lazy to get out of the toilet. It was just bad timing for it to coincide with my period. Law? LAW!?!?!

But let’s just say it’s true – that the flushed pads were the cause of this expensive plumbing debacle – what the hell are we supposed to do with it? Are we really supposed to put that damn cotton ball in the trash?

Life just got so much harder.

My period is due in a few days and I have to say I’m freaking out a bit about it. How am I supposed to break this 30 year old habit of rinsing tampons? Am I going to take out the trash four times a day? Should I just switch to a menstrual cup? It all sounds terrible, if you ask me. Kind of like the time a string of tampon hung from my swimsuit at a high school swim competition and everyone had a view when I leaned over the starting blocks. For God Sake.

Menopause doesn’t look so bad right now.


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