Flush Toilet Paper in Peru?

by Lin

Not a plugged toilet in the place - Casares, Nicaragua

Not a plugged toilet in the place - Casares, Nicaragua

I just came across this statement on the internet, "Because of the unsophisticated plumbing in Peru, used toilet paper is not flushed down the toilet but is placed in a separate bin next to the toilet. This was a hard concept for me to grasp. Like, gross!"

It is typical of statements you are likely to hear when traveling in South America. Here it is attributed to "unsophisticated plumbing." Others will tell you it is because there is "not enough pressure."

Don't believe it. Both statements are totally false. Toilet paper can and should be flushed and won't clog the Peruvian or any other toilet.

These are, once again, the type of old wives' tales that are accepted as fact without bothering to even reason on it. Think about it:

1 - Have I ever caused a toilet to become plugged in my country?

Answer - Yes. Was it the toilet paper? No. What was it? A large and solid bunch of you know what. Or something else that was not meant to be flushed, like a sock or a teddy bear. It was NOT the toilet paper.

Conclusion - Other stuff clogs the toilet.

2 - Is the plumbing in Peru unsophisticated?

Answer - Possibly. But so is an outhouse. If toilet paper will plug the plumbing, it certainly is unsophisticated. But as shown above, toilet paper is one of the least likely things to plug a toilet.

Conclusion - If the plumbing is unsophisticated to that degree, just about anything will plug it (including YKW) quicker than toilet paper.

3 - How about "There's not enough pressure in Peruvian (Ecuadorian, Bolivian, etc) toilets to flush properly"?

Answer - Wrong. Absolutely no water pressure is used to flush a standard toilet anywhere in the world. Ask a plumber. Or try it yourself. Turn off the water pipe to your toilet. There is now zero pressure. Do your thing. Flush the toilet. It works normally. The weight of the water in the tank is what flushes the toilet, not water pressure from the pipes. A bucket of water in the bowl will do the same thing.

Conclusion - No water pressure is necessary to flush anything down a toilet.


So, the TRUTH is that toilet paper will not clog the toilet because of unsophisticated plumbing or lack of water pressure.


Like most old wives' tales, however, there is a BASIS behind the false belief. HERE IT IS:

And this applies to your home country too... in past years. What did we use before flush toilets? Outhouses. What did we wipe with? Anything, like old Sears catalogs or newspaper.

FACT - Old Sears catalog paper and newspaper WILL CLOG A FLUSH TOILET. This is precisely because that kind of paper is DESIGNED to resist deterioration from moisture. Toilet paper, however, is designed to DETERIORATE in moisture. Like fall completely apart, dissolve!

So - The practice of not flushing magazine pages or newspaper down the toilet is STILL AN EXCELLENT PRACTICE. Don't try it in my house.

However, that practice falsely has been carried over into South America to apply to toilet paper and is a useless belief.

So just smile and flush the toilet paper behind closed doors.

Fact - After 20 years of living and flushing in Latin America I have never had a problem with clogging a toilet with toilet paper.


Now, I hope this explanation has not been TOO long. I feel that this subject is top priority in the world and really must be taught and understood before one can find true enjoyment in life!

Live Happy, Flush Happy!

Comments for Flush Toilet Paper in Peru?

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No flush in Punta Arenas
by: Anonymous

We had booked into a hostel with shared bathroom in Punta Arenas, Chile for 5 nights.

We were so grossed out by the overflowing bins next to the toilets that after one night we left and found a hotel where we could happily flush...

That - so far - was our only experience of being told not to flush TP.

Hi Anon,

That was a good decision.

A hotel must be responsible for maintaining good hygiene for their guests.

Again, Lin and I have lived in America Latina ( I was born in Lima, Peru and we have lived in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua), now in Peru again, and we have never found the cause of plumbing problems to be toilet paper. And we have lived in dwellings far more basic than most of y'all.

If the hotel has problems with their plumbing, the hotel needs to fix it.

If you use real toilet paper, not the cheap kind, it will not be the toilet paper that causes problems.

Again, with many years of living in all kinds of situations (well, the outhouses were the best as far as being plumbing free) we have never once had a problem because of flushing toillet paper.

If the hotel says you cannot flush toilet paper, find another hotel or go ahead and flush. Don't be contributing to unsanitary conditions.

Remember, as far back as 1,000 BC, the Israelites were given a law that they must bury their excrement. Yet here in the modern world we are told that excrement on toilet paper can be left out in an open bin for the flies to carry disease openly?

Comment by David at Inside-Peru.com

From Inside-Peru.com
by: David

I'm bringing my comments up to date on this subject.

It is true that if the plumbing is not correctly installed, you may have problems - not only in Peru but in the USA, Europe, etc.

To say you can't flush degradable toilet paper in the plumbing in Peru (or wherever) because of one or two experiences is like saying you can't ride in a car because of car accidents.

Again, I was born here in Peru and raised in here, in the USA, and we've lived for several years in each of the following countries: Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, the USA.

Latin America living has totalled over 30 years.

We have never paid more than 200 dollars a month in rent (in other words, some pretty poor conditions) but all with flush toilets.

During the 30 years, we have flushed our toilet paper in every single place we have lived (approximately 35 different dwellings).

The only problem we had with the plumbing was in Ecuador over 20 years ago in a very basic dwelling on the beach (because of the instability of the currency at the time, we paid the equivalent of 25 coca-colas monthly).

The owner insisted we had clogged the plumbing because we were flushing toilet paper.

Low and behold, when the plumbing was dug up, there was a break in the pipe and it had filled with sand. No toilet paper.

Again, just because there has been an incident of TP clogging the plumbing does NOT mean that YOU cannot flush toilet paper.

Using the bin or waste basket is highly unsanitary and contributes to the spread of disease.

Flush it.

too gross to be true
by: Anonymous

it is just soooooo gross when you go to a friend's place where you (do not mean to and dont want to) glanced the yellow paper with a hair in the bin, and you know whose hair is it.....

I cannot do this to myself and anyone who is going to visit me. Yes, I am a toilet paper flusher.

Proper Toilet Paper
by: Anonymous

I haven't seen any comments around the type of toilet paper being used.

In North America and most of Europe toilet paper is designed to disintegrate in water for both environmental and sewage treatment.

These countries no longer use scented or coloured toilet paper as that prevents the paper breaking down in the sewage systems and is not environmentally friendly.

Having traveled in Mexico & Central America the most toilet paper has powdered scent in it thus not breaking down properly.

Presently we live on an acreage with a septic system and it is an absolute no-no to use scented or colored toilet paper which is not available anyway.

Absolutely no problems.

ummm - "unsophisticated plumbing" and paper in "the bins."
by: Sandshoes

Ummm, I have just encountered these exact words on a web page for a B & B in Lima, about "unsophisticated plumbing" and paper in "the bins."

In Santiago de Chile they also have bins for t.paper in hostels and backpacker hotels.

However, one nice hostel, near Santa Maria Park, seemed to have no problems and had full flush loos which swooshed all YKW away.

I'm a bit queasy about the bins...not sure why.

It's as close as I come to a cleanliness obsession.

So, now I'm wondering whether to take flushable toilet papers to put in the bins to make my tummy settle.

Any suggestions?

I'm trying to replace the phobic thoughts with ones like: it's like a bush toilet stop...on the other hand, do Peruvians know if there are any small BNBs or hotels with flush loos?

Plumbing can be an issue in most buildings
by: Anonymous

In a recent mission trip to Latin America, we were tasked with building a youth camp.

Since most of the visitors would be coming from the USA, we wanted to try and resolve the issue.

Unfortunately, when we arrived the plumbing had already been installed (I use the term lightly).

The main issue is that there are no vent pipes to allow air to escape as the toilet is flushed.

That means that there isn't enough suction to force the feces and paper to be carried throughout the plumbing system.

The paper essentially sat somewhere in the middle of the pipe, and we knew that it would be a matter of time before there would be a major issue.

The way that they mounted the pipe joints was also a problem, causing uneven surfaces within the pipe allowing things to get hung up..

Additionally, they had a bad habit of interchanging brass with PVC which caused leaks all over the place.

Needless to say, all of the bathrooms had the little waste baskets for paper.

I didn't believe it either...until I moved here
by: Lima Resident

Yes, we were skeptical for all the same reasons you are.

We've lived in the U.S. and Western Europe all of our lives and never encountered problems flushing toilet paper down the toilet.

Everyone in Peru told us we had to, but we felt it was very gross.

So naturally, we thought it was a old wive's tale and flushed toilet paper (though not much) when using the toilet.

Within a week, the entire plumbing in our apartment (including the bathtub) backed up with sewage.

Among the yucky backed up sewage was the soggy toilet paper we had been flushing down the toilet.

THIS was far grosser than what became our new habit of always putting used toilet paper in baskets by the toilet as all Peruvians do. (BTW, you will find bins for used t.p. in all men's and women's toilets in Peru).

This episode was a classic example of hypothetical reasoning losing out to experimental testing.

It didn't seem in our minds to be true, as it doesn't seem to be true in your mind - but it is true.

You must dispose of used toilet paper in bins and NOT in toilets in Peru!

Side note: There are exceptions, e.g., first class hotels and the very newest construction.

But the problem appears to be the plumbing infrastructure that is common to many communities has very antiquated and small diameter drain pipes.

Again, you can find hypothetical reasons this must not be true, but trust us...IT IS!

So Interesting
by: Kristin

My family and I just arrived here in Cusco a couple days ago and are still trying to wrap our heads around the concept of not putting the toilet paper in the toilet.

This post may very well turn us into secret toilet paper flushers!

Thanks for the reassurance!
by: Jess

What a great article! I feel much better about all the secret flushing I do here in Ecuador! And I also have never plugged a toilet in Ecuador with toilet paper.

I was recently at a hotel in Quito that had a notice on the bathroom door promising to sue you for any damages caused by flushing the toilet paper. So far they haven´t contacted me.

Another hotel in Baños said that no "solid materials" were to be flushed down the toilet. Seems a little too drastic.

Thanks for the great info.

Partially true
by: Anonymous

I was given the explanation at one hotel in Lima that it is not a problem with flushing.

Instead the poor quality of the toilet paper used in Peru does not break down in water as higher quality toilet paper is designed to do.

This causes a problem at the waste treatment facility and not with the local plumbing.

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