Can You Flush Toilet Paper In Bogota?
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I remember first encountering the “no flush” rule of Latin America while visiting Peru. In Cusco, I saw a small sign above the toilet that said, “Please don’t flush; throw away.” I didn’t understand and thought it meant sanitary napkins, not toilet paper. But I soon learned that I was wrong.
You are advised not to flush toilet paper in Bogota, Colombia. The nation has old sanitation systems which clog and corrode quickly. To avoid having issues with your plumbing, it’s usually best to throw your toilet paper in the trash rather than flush.
If you want to know how to properly care for your waste, keep reading! We have all the answers in this article.
Why Can’t You Flush Toilet Paper in Bogota?
The main reason you shouldn’t flush toilet paper down the drain in Colombia is the current state of the sewer systems. Sewer systems are pretty old in Bogota, and there’s little movement to update the current system and expand the pipes.
Since the lines are small and often corroded, toilet paper could clog the drains and cause structural and environmental damage.
Bogota is one of the most industrialized cities in Colombia, with skyscrapers and other indicators of technological advancements. However, the city’s water and sanitation systems are still quite dated.
Since the pipes are old, often rusted, and much smaller than western sewer systems, the paper can cause damage.
Even if the toilet paper does manage to make it most of the way out of your drain pipes, the decaying process leaves behind a black substance that can also cause erosion and clogs in drain pipes.
This happens in the U.S. as well but is less of an issue because of the size of our sewer systems.
Another reason you should avoid flushing toilet paper in Colombia is their hydraulic power is limited. The wastewater sanitation process needs to be updated and more efficient. Much of the water’s debris is flushed back into the streams and rivers in the current system.
Speak of water and streams. Can you drink tap water while in Bogota? We answer that here.
Can You Flush Toilet Paper in Hotels in Bogota?
There’s a vast difference between the kinds of hotels visitors to the city can choose to visit.
The old, structurally suffering hotels built between 1950-1980 have smaller pipes, and you should never flush toilet paper in these hotels.
Some newer hotels have larger piping systems, but you still shouldn’t flush toilet paper because the plumbing connects to the central sewer system.
While some more modern hotels have larger water pipes like those in the U.S., you still shouldn’t flush toilet paper down the drain. These hotels are meant to appeal to Westerners, but unfortunately, you can’t change the whole sewer system.
Everyone, even tourists, should follow the rules. The nice thing is that most hotels have a cleaning staff who will remove the sanitary papers from the bins so that you won’t have to yourself.
Always be respectful, though, and make sure you don’t overfill the container before asking to be cleaned.
Not sure what time of year is best to visit Bogota? There are a few amazing seasons to visit, which I discuss here.
Is it Sanitary to Throw Toilet Paper Away Instead of Flushing it?
It would be best if you were cautious with waste material, but Bogota and the nation of Colombia have a sanitary system in place that’s safe and clean.
Always wear gloves when disposing of your waste material, and ensure you tied the bag shut securely before tossing it into the dumpster.
Lastly, make sure you empty your bins every couple of days to avoid having them overflow.
Most friends from the US find it disgusting when I tell them that you don’t flush toilet paper down the drain in Colombia. I almost always hear some variant of this remark: “How? Isn’t that so unsanitary?” The truth is everything we do in the bathroom can potentially be unsanitary, but we can prevent the spread of germs.
Consider this; we don’t flush sanitary napkins down the drain in the United States. Why is this not gross and unsanitary? Because we wash our hands and handle disposal with care and caution. The same is true in Colombia.
Also, many cultures use water instead of or in addition to using toilet paper and find the American method gross and unsanitary.
I’ve even heard some Colombians ridicule the North American approach because it seemed like it would pollute and clog the waterways. In fact, recent studies indicate that they might be right.
Toilet paper clogs waterways and the decomposition process that passes pollution to the water. Toilet paper also contains some chemicals (especially scented paper) which can further cause harmful pollution.
Basically, yes, the waste baskets can be unsanitary. But you can do a few things to keep your restroom clean.
- Take out the papers before the bin is completely full to prevent spillage
- Always use a can liner or garbage bag
- Wear gloves when removing the bag
- Tie it securely and throw it away right away
- Wash your hands correctly (check out what the CDC says about how to wash your hands correctly)
- Rinse the bin and spray with sanitizer
- Place a new bag into the bin
Last, use scented bags to keep your room smelling fresh and clean!
Will Bogota Update Their Sanitation Systems?
There is some talk in Colombia to update the sanitation systems, but nothing serious. Colombia is still working to improve roadways through the Andes and prevent pollution from agriculture.
While the sanitation systems are essential, apparently, there are more pressing issues the government is working to improve.
Is it Illegal to Flush Toilet Paper in Bogota?
It’s not illegal to flush toilet paper in Bogota, but you can end up having to pay fines or repair costs.
If you clog the pipes in your apartment, the prices of repairs can be very high, especially if you manage to cause water damage.
Some stores, Airbnb, and other hotels may charge you a fine if you discover you’ve been flushing toilet paper down the toilet.
I hope you enjoyed this article on how to handle your waste in Bogota. It might be a slightly uncomfortable topic for most North Americans, but you must understand how to act when visiting other people’s homeland.
Always be respectful, and don’t pollute Colombia’s beautiful environment. Just ensure you throw out the trash regularly and wash your hands properly every time to keep yourself and your home clean.
The Wild Lumens blog offers much about Bogota and other charming cities in Colombia. Check out our Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena content before planning your trip to this gorgeous nation!
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- Cartagena vs. Medellin: Which is the better travel destination?
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