Wipes, Paper Towels Among Items Clogging Sewers

Wipe Woes clogging toilets sewer systems
Julio Cortez/AP
Wastewater officials across the country have been trying to spread the message that not just anything can go down the toilet, and it has recently taken aim at wipes.

Vancouver, Wash., has a campaign called "Smart Bunnies" that shows a bespectacled rabbit sitting on a toilet and the tag line: "Smart bunnies flush only toilet tissue ... All wipes and other products will clog the pipes!"

"Many new products, such as wipes, claim to be flushable. However, that doesn't mean they're treatable in our wastewater system," according to the campaign's materials. Among the items it says don't belong in the toilet: cleaning rags, reinforced paper towels, baby diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, and medical bandages, tubing and pads.

A public awareness campaign by the Orange County Sanitation District in California called "What 2 Flush" emphasizes that the toilet is meant only for the three Ps -- pee, poop and toilet paper. It even says facial tissues are too sturdy to be flushed. Among the more unusual items it says people commonly flush that risk causing clogs: cat litter, condoms and dental floss.

A study by the Portland Water District in Maine in 2011 analyzed what was causing clogs in their sewer pipes and came up with this analysis:
  • 42 percent paper products, including paper towels
  • 24 percent baby wipes
  • 17 percent hygiene products, including feminine pads and tampons
  • 8 percent "flushable" wipes
  • Remainder, other items, including household wipes, cosmetic pads and medical materials.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »

Understanding Credit Scores

Credit scores matter -- learn how to improve your score.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

11 Comments

Filter by:
hugh_geenormous

OWS clogging Americas sewers since 2011.

September 24 2013 at 12:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hugh_geenormous

evan barthold clogs his mom's toilet all.the time.

September 24 2013 at 12:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mesager42

Why are people flushing baby wipes. Stick the things in the disposable diaper that is being thrown into the trash.

Some women are too lazy to wrap up their used tampons and place them in the little disposable containers in public restrooms, so they drop them in the toilet, which almost instantly clogs them up so that others can't use those same toilets.

September 23 2013 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gurneyjbushinc

When these items are flushed, it keeps usin business

September 23 2013 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Larry D. Joshway

They for got the hollidays. Thanksgiving and Chrismas. Don\'t pour all your cooking greese and jucies in you kitchen sing. After it cools off it will clog your drain and sewer pipies.

September 23 2013 at 3:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Larry D. Joshway's comment
mesager42

I was also told to not put a bunches of vegetable peelings like those from potatoes, carrots, and others in garbage disposals due to those clogging up the drain lines. I was told that garbage disposals are for those small bits of table scraps from rinsing cooked food off plates once bones are tossed into the trash.

September 23 2013 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bigtwolfman710

Signs are in every public restroom stating what NOT to flush down the toilets. So you would think the message would register with these individuals. I dont think they are lacking common sense I truly believe they are lacking brains! Only a thought.....

September 23 2013 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
flick78

common sense? no one has any common sense anymore

September 23 2013 at 2:13 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
gerbersmail

Common sense says you cannot throw paper towels or wipes down a sink or toilet without creating problems. If you are stupid enough to do that you had better be smart enough to know how to call a plumber. Save that "wipe" to wipe the smile off your face when he hands you the bill.

September 23 2013 at 2:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ssawka427

i work in it every day -mops towels face cloths- underware all kinds of kitchen cleaning wipes tampon sticks -we call them lollypop sticks-tampon plastic aplicators -we call them beach whistels - and condoms lots and lots when i tell you this mix can stop a 50 horsepower pump it,s why they pay me the big bucks..

September 23 2013 at 9:15 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ssawka427's comment
jackenc

your worth every bit and more. my thanks to you

September 23 2013 at 2:06 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply