What you flush down your toilet and rinse down your sink can have a big impact on your home's pipes and our pipes.

Disposing of the wrong things can cause damage to the sewer system and your property, leading to costly repairs as well as harming the environment and the health of our pipe workers.

What not to put down the toilet or sink

It's easy to keep our pipes flowing free, just remember to bin anything that's not water, human waste or toilet paper, including:

  • food scraps, fats and oils
  • wipes – even the ‘flushable’ ones
  • paints and chemicals
  • personal items such as tampons and sanitary items, cotton buds, nappies, razor blades, syringes and condoms.

If in doubt, chuck it out. For paint, pesticides and chemicals, keep them in their original containers and contact your local council or Sustainability Victoria for collection and disposal advice.

The root cause - a growing problem

Tree roots are responsible for lots of Melbourne's sewer and drain blockages. They can also damage buildings, footpaths, fences and pipes.

You can help avoid this by choosing trees carefully and planting them away from sewer pipes. Find out more in this fact sheet.

Top tips for protecting your pipes

  1. Wipe your pots and pans with a paper towel before rinsing to help remove excess grease

  2. Collect cooled oil and put it in the bin

  3. For larger amounts of oil, you can let it cool, pour it into a container and take it to your nearest waste and recycling facility (tip)

  4. Instead of rinsing scraps off your plate, scrape them into the bin or compost

  5. Use a sink strainer to reduce the risk of a blocked sink or sewer

  6. Dispose of syringes by calling DirectLine, the confidential alcohol and drug counselling referral line, to request a disposal container on ‍1800 888 236

English not your first language? Check out our Easy English guide to what you can put in your sink and toilet.


How to prevent blockages

When wastewater is unable to flow away it can come back up from the toilet or sink, giving you a nasty surprise. It's easy to keep our sewers flowing free, just remember to bin anything that's not water, human waste or toilet paper, including:

  • Fats, oils and leftover food that can solidify and clog pipes.

  • Cleaning cloths, sanitary items, cotton buds and all types of wipes – even the ones that say they’re ‘flushable’ 

  • Medicines, pills, paints and chemicals which cause damage to pipes and the environment.


I might have a blocked pipe

Drains not flowing as they should? Find out what to do next.

Plumbing claim form

If your plumber has charged you for costs relating to finding a blockage you may be able to get money back.

Problem still not solved?

Submit an enquiry online. We’ll do our best to get back to you within three business days.

Easy English English ‘What can you put in your sink and toilet?’ information

South East Water has worked with accessible information specialists Scope to translate key information about what you can put in your sink and toilet into Easy English.

We recognise that our customers have diverse abilities and communication needs, and by providing inclusive communications about who we are, all customers regardless of their circumstances will have access to information that is concise and easy to understand.