It wasn’t me! United Utilities reveals toilet confessions

11 March 2016

A whole beetroot, a Ninja Turtle, love letters, E-cigarettes and underpants are just a few of the items that toilet-goers have owned up to flushing down the drain when asked by United Utilities for their toilet confessions.

Bizarrely, some of these items were flushed in someone else’s loo. When asked to ‘fess up about their flushing faux paus, almost one in ten people said they’d blocked a toilet that wasn’t theirs by putting things down it they shouldn’t have.

Picture of flushing statistics

Other items flushed in someone else’s house include a dead bird, wallets, toothbrushes and plates of food. Only half the guilty culprits admitted their bad bathroom behaviour – almost one in ten blamed someone else! Those aged 16-24 are most likely to flush, run and point the finger elsewhere.  

Other oddities people have flushed down their own toilets include snake poo in Preston, false teeth in Warrington, a bagel in Burnley, knickers in Liverpool and a whole cake in Manchester.

Each year across the North West United Utilities tackles 25,000 blockages, costing around £10 million. While unusual items don’t help, by far the biggest culprits are wipes and food waste.

Tony Griffiths, from United Utilities, said: “We do get some strange things in our sewers – it can be like an episode of the X-Files down there. But while unusual things may grab attention, it’s more mundane items that cause the most problems such as baby wipes, make-up wipes and left over fats, grease and oil from cooking.”

Almost three quarters of people living in the North West admit flushing items like these down the toilet, and with frequency. When quizzed by United Utilities, a quarter of its customers said they flush baby wipes down the toilet, a third of which do so more than once a week.

“Finding oddities in the sewers, like false teeth or a Ninja Turtle may be amusing”, said Tony, “but when wipes, fats and grease solidify and form giant fatbergs it’s definitely not a laughing matter. Flushing only the three Ps – pee, poo and paper (toilet) keeps pipes flowing smoothly and ensures we can dedicate resource to improving other areas of the network.”

While most people flush items in error or without thinking about whether they really are ‘flushable’ or not, the United Utilities toilet confessional also revealed that some flushers have very peculiar motives.

• 1 in 15 have flushed food and pretended they’ve eaten it
• 1 in 20 flush cigarettes to hide the fact they smoke from a partner
• 1 in 20 have flushed “an item” they didn’t want to be caught with
• 1 in 100 have flushed gifts/jewellery on purpose after a row


Tony said: “We never expected there to be such drama in the bathroom. One person even said they had blocked their loo on purpose because they fancied their plumber! There have to be easier ways to get a date.”