One in four adults admit to regularly flushing items down the toilet which can cause blockages in the wastewater network and affect our marine environment 

This Saturday, March 5 and 6 the Think Before You Flush campaign will be at the RDS Future Beauty Show urging attendees to make small changes in their beauty routines. Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water. The campaign addresses the issue of flushing unsuitable items down the toilet and highlights the consequences of doing so, such as blockages in our wastewater network and treatment plants, surface water overflows and sewage related litter on our beaches and in our oceans, damaging our marine environment. 

Beauty and dental items, such as wet wipes, cotton pads and dental floss, are part of the ‘Dirty Dozen’, which are the top 12 items that are incorrectly flushed down the toilet in Ireland. Other items include hair; paper towels; medicine; tampons; food items; contact lenses; condoms; cigarette butts; and cotton bud sticks. 

There is no denying these items are incredibly useful. Many people love the convenience of disposable makeup remover wipes, facial pads and dental floss but are unaware of the problems associated with these items when inappropriately flushed down the toilet. Research has found that one in four adults (24%) regularly admit to flushing items down the toilet that are known to cause blockages, causing detrimental effects on the wastewater network and the marine environment. Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to disintegrate quickly in our pipes and sewage systems, other items don’t break down easily. 

Future Beauty is a one-of-a-kind immersive event and beauty show taking place in the RDS on March 5 and 6. The jam-packed weekend promises to give you all the trustworthy information you need about the very latest in cosmetic treatments and procedures. The Think Before You Flush campaign will host a talk on the demo stage at 12pm on Sunday 6 and will be at stand 51 all weekend – come by for some free resources and more information! 

Speaking about the campaign, Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager, Clean Coasts said: “We are delighted to be at the Future Beauty Show this year asking people to re-evaluate their flushing behaviour when using beauty and dental items. Our message is simple yet powerful and one that everyone can engage with to make a positive impact on our natural environment: only flush the 3 P’s – pee, paper and poo – down the loo, and pop all other items into the bin.” 

Tom Cuddy, Irish Water’s Head of Operations added: “The Think Before You Flush campaign, through education and awareness, aims to prevent items from our home beauty and dental routines such as wipes, cotton buds/ wool/ pads as well as hair and dental floss causing wastewater blockages and overflows onto Ireland’s spectacular beaches and inland waterways. While we have seen a positive improvement in the nation’s flushing behaviour since 2018, one in four adults still admit to regularly flushing unsuitable items down the toilet. By making small changes in our flushing behaviour, we can prevent the harm caused by sewage related litter in our marine environment.” 

What can you do? 

  1. Put a bin in your bathroom. You can also download some of our Think Before You Flush printable resources and stick them up as a reminder. 
  1. Switch to reusable options – items like facial cloths and reusable cotton pads are great alternatives. 

Join the campaign at and follow @CleanCoasts on social media.