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Can You Flush Condoms?

Nobody wants a trash can full of semen, but is the toilet really the answer?

It’s easy to see why people do it.

Once the moment is over, a used condom is a fairly unpleasant thing, a floppy little damp sack of effluent. If you put it in the regular trash it’ll stay there until, what, you empty the trash can in the bathroom? It sometimes takes a really long time for the trash in the bathroom to fill up — by the time that bag o’jizz leaves your house, three weeks might have passed since the nut was busted. It’s a pretty unsavory thought. Far easier to just flush it.

You might also feel uncomfortable with the idea of someone else seeing a condom in the trash. It could get you in trouble if, say, you were having sex with someone you shouldn’t have, or are a rebellious monk. A smoking gun is often used as an expression for totally incontrovertible evidence of guilt, but a spunky dunky can be just as incriminating.

But don’t put it down the toilet. It’s bad for the toilet, bad for the environment and a bad idea overall. 

It’s remarkably easy for a flushed condom to get snagged in a pipe — within your toilet, somewhere on the way toward the sewer, anywhere. And, given that the whole point of a condom is to block fluids from traveling, clogged pipes are a very real possibility. Flush one condom too many and you could end up with a toilet that sprays human shit all over your home. That’s not sexy. And do you really want to pay a plumber to stick their arm down your toilet and triumphantly pull out a full jimmy hat?

If it makes it as far as the sewer, there’s plenty more stuff for it to get snagged on and, over time, build up into a bigger and bigger blockage as other things gets stuck on it. A combination of condoms, wet wipes and fat that people have poured down the drain is a recipe for a fatberg — a giant, disgusting, sewer-destroying blockade of awfulness. Earlier this year, London sewer workers spent two weeks attacking a monster fatberg, and in 2018, a fatberg weighing 130 tons was unearthed.

Whenever possible, you should only flush the three Ps: poo, pee and [toilet] paper. Condoms, tampons, sanitary towels, cotton buds — everything else needs to go into the trash. Wet wipes that claim to be flushable often aren’t. Or as Tim Haapala, operations manager for the Charleston Sanitary Board, told the New York Times, “flushable” doesn’t really mean anything. “A golf ball is flushable, but it’s not a good idea,” he lamented.

A Thames Water worker once told the Guardian: “I’ve been down the sewers in central London and seen what appear to be fish on the surface. They’re actually condoms filled with air, bobbing around. It’s pretty grim.” And if they don’t get snagged on anything, they’ll end up in the sea, where they can be swallowed by marine animals.

People hopefully aren’t doing it too much. A British survey in 2013 found participants to flush used condoms about 3 percent of the time. That’s not a lot, but it’s also the kind of thing people lie about — you know you’re not meant to do it. And even if the 3 percent figure is right, more than 5 billion condoms are used each year, so that’s 150 million love-gloves clogging up sewers and poisoning the seas.

So again — don’t do it. If you’re embarrassed someone might see your jism when throwing something else out, fold two squares of toilet paper around it and you’re done. If the thought of a canful of festering semen in your bathroom grosses you out, empty it more often. 

Just make sure it does go in the trash. Condoms discarded in the street or thrown into the wilderness can end up being eaten by animals or picked up by kids, and nobody needs that. Also, if you’ve ever been walking down the street and stepped on one with a knot tied in it, causing the end to explode like a water balloon and covering your other shoe in anonymous week-old jizz, you’ll know it’s a real day-ruiner.

For the last time then: Poo in the potty, rubbers in the rubbish.