Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You Flushed WHAT down the toilet?!

My brother and I were schooled at an early age not to flush random things down the toilet. Among those random things? Lego men, pennies, Kleenex . . . anything other than a moderate amount of toilet paper and your business was a strict no-no. 

 Photo Credit
A couple of months ago, I read a blog post where the author admitted she judged people when she discovered they used generic toilet paper. While I wholeheartedly agree that name brand T.P. is pretty cushy, in this neck of the woods, something like Charmin is an unheard of luxury.

Around here, you're going to have to deal with "cheap", thin toilet paper. For one thing, I'd hate to be using more trees than necessary just so the world can have quilted T.P. For another, the thicker the T.P. the more likely it is to clog up the all important septic system.

In northern Minnesota, it seems we talk about septic systems an awful lot. That's because septic systems are expensive and bothersome. And contrary to popular belief, the toilet isn't a magic vortex ready to wrestle whatever gets flushed down it. (Oh the horror this poor heart of mine experienced when I heard tell of people flushing paper towels down their toilet!) Treat your septic system with care and it will treat you well in return.

Please don't judge me by my toilet paper. Judge me by my wonderful working septic system.

My dear friend Sarah was up for a visit this past week. She lives in the big city now and sometimes I forget that she's a northern girl like me, albeit, from the western part of the state. She's well-versed in septic system etiquette and coming from a family whose cabin has a holding tank, she knows the more waste water you dump down the drains, the harder your septic tank works and the faster it fills up.

The whole time she was up, she kept asking questions like:  "Is it okay if I dump the dirty dish water down the drain?" or  "Is it okay if I flush the toilet?"

One morning I heard the water running in the bathroom. After a couple minutes the water shut off and Sarah came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her head.

"Did you just take a shower?" I asked.

"Yeah, up at our cabin, we can only take 5 minute showers."

"You know, you can take a shower that's longer than that if you want," I said. "We have a full blown septic system."

"Nah, it's fine."

Good friends know you can't flush just anything down the toilet.


  1. On the one hand, I'm grossed out by thinking about a septic system, on the other, when it runs well, I definitely appreciate it.

    I had a house in the middle of nowhere once, and it was horrible, because the septic system started going awry. So much money just to figure out what was wrong with it, not to mention the gross-out factor.

  2. That's really interesting in an icky sort of way haha! I also didn't know that they're "rated" for different amounts of people.

  3. Learned a lot this morning - before breakfast. Not sure whether I ever ever will flush a toilet without thinking of a septic system... and you ;-))))

  4. I think everyone should have to experience a septic system in their lifetime. Being a city girl, most of my experience with them is from vacations at the lake - but it's enough to fully regard toilets with a sense of reverence.

  5. This post brought back memories of when we had to have our septic system repaired when I was little...can you imagine a more disgusting job? Oh, the smell. I don't have a septic system in my house now, but I do have three little kids. My toilets have seen it all!

  6. Ahhh, at least she knew the rules! I'm not a septic guru or anything but we went to a B&B in Hawaii and there were notes posted everywhere about what you could/could not do because of the septic. It was totally foreign to me but I know now! I know septic etiquette!!!! I should get a medal or some kind of award :)

  7. We are also on septic over here and the first time I had to by Scott single ply, I almost had to choke back the tears! But it's better than sewage backing up into my kitchen sink, so I bit the bullet :)

  8. This post has me giggling. Confession: I know nothing about septic systems- or I didn't until I read this post!!! This is one of the reasons I adore you Ada: while we have very different life experiences, you write in a way that is utterly relatable and makes me feel like I know you personally!

  9. I'm on septic but haven't given up my Charmin 2-ply! It is funny, though, we're on septic and use Charmin at our house, but Zack's sister and brother both prefer Scott's 1-ply at their house, and neither are on septic.

  10. i love this! i had a septic system growing up, and always had to use the thin TP. it's now a MAJOR luxury when BF brings "the good stuff" home. seriously-- it's like a treat!

  11. Oh man, I'm pretty sure I'd be the idiot to screw things up. I sort of have this idea that EVERYTHING should just get flushed. At the same time, though, we are firm believers of "if its yellow let it mellow."

  12. Twenty years at our little house out in the sticks and I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about septic systems. Ours habitually acts up when we have house guests. Ugh! I guess it's not rated to handle more than three people. ;)

  13. I only had to deal with septic systems in one house and it was not my favorite...

  14. Lol. That's kind of funny. Being a city girl, I never would've considered all this! ;) Thank you for enlightening us.

  15. Awesome!! I grew up with a septic system and even down here in Texas - septic systems are revered and respected. We learned early on to be really careful about what is flushed and how often it's flushed. I have to admit - now that I'm on a city sewer system, I take special delight in flushing all kinds of things ;-)

    Thanks for participating in the Tuesday Train ~ hope to see you back again soon!

  16. One of my best friend's septic tank overflowed tonight; she's NOT in a happy place right now, as you might can imagine.

    Septic tanks can be friendly to you, if you're friendly to them...yeah, no fancy TP in this house either!



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