Living or visiting Costa Rica as a foreigner means not having to deal with cold and snow, you can drink the (tap) water without getting sick, phone numbers have an extra digit, you never have to calculate the tip at a restaurant since it’s always done for you (included in the price), dollars are accepted everywhere, and learning to use wastebasket or ‘poop basket’ in the bathroom.
For those you have never been to Costa Rica, of if you have, but have never left the comfort of your luxury hotel room, a typical bathroom in a typical Costa Rica home includes a toilet and a wastebasket.
The purpose of this waste basket is for depositing soiled paper, because…well you never, ever flush the bathroom tissue (called toilet paper in my day). Never.
There are number of reasons for this. Besides culture, the truth is that most drain systems are under capacity, poorly built, even less maintained (until they get clogged).
Flushing toilet paper down the toilet can clog the system real fast. Even the smallest of squares.
Some Tico homes post signs (in Spanish) to remind the user NOT TO FLUSH the paper, USE the basket.
The “no botar papel” is not there for decoration.
It’s a hard habit for us foreigners to break, it just what we grew up doing. But not in Costa Rica.
Oh, by the way, the toilet in Spanish is “INODORO”, just in case.
I’ve compiled a list of other things you should not flush down a Costa Rican toilet.
1. “Flushable” Wipes
Even when they’re advertised as “flushable,” most moist towelettes should never go down the toilet. The wipes don’t disintegrate in water, leading to clogs and backed-up sewer lines.
2. Feminine Hygiene Products
Pads and tampons, which are designed to expand and retain fluids, won’t dissolve after being flushed down the pipes.
3. Paper Towels
Paper towel manufacturers often tout the strength of their products. But there’s a downside to all this durability ecause the paper is meant to stay strong when exposed to liquids, it won’t break down like toilet paper does, making it likely to clog the toilet.
Not even a plumber relishes fishing used condoms out of clogged sewer lines.
5. Cotton Swabs
Resist the urge! Cotton swabs are notorious for getting stuck in drain pipe bends and catching everything else you flush, resulting in a huge clog.
6. Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets don’t dissolve in water, and they’re also loaded with harmful synthetic chemicals that can seep into the water system if flushed.
7. Dental Floss
After completing your dentist-recommended daily flossing, don’t drop the used piece in the commode. Long strands of waxed or unwaxed floss can wrap around other items in the drainage system, quickly turning a little string into a big headache for a plumber. Plus, dental floss isn’t biodegradable.
Those big clumps of hair on your brush belong in the waste receptacle, not the toilet. Another non-dissolver, hair is quick to catch on any projections inside pipes.
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