To Flush or Not To Flush
That is the question! Blockages in sewer pipes are on the rise, and repairs to fix the lines are costing the utilities and their stakeholders a lot of money. Personal cleaning wipes and kitty litter manufactures are labeling their products as “flushable”, and have created a large misconception that these items can simply be tossed into the toilet. The utility industry is very concerned, especially since the wipes industry is catering to a high demand for these convenient personal and household cleaning products. As the demand increases, so does the potential for expensive sewer line repairs.
The unfortunate practice of flushing these items, as well as many other things people commonly throw into the toilet can be harmful to the infrastructure of the community.
Even though manufacturers may label items as “flushable” and claim that they break down as they are agitated within the sewer system, these items can still clog household pipes and sewer lines.
Best practice is to toss them into the trash and not flush them!
Other harmful items that are commonly tossed into the toilet are:
- Paper towels
- Cleaning rags and household wipes
- Medical bandages
- Dental floss
- Feminine hygiene products
In 2011, the Portland Water District in Maine analyzed what items caused the most clogs in their sewer pipes. Their findings were:
- 42% paper products, including paper towels
- 24% baby wipes
- 17% hygiene products, including feminine pads and tampons
- 8% “flushable” wipes
- Remainder items – household wipes, cosmetic pads and medical materials
Wastewater officials across the nation are trying to educate the public on how flushing these items can cause blockages in the lines. Several agencies have invested in educational campaigns whose goal is to inform their local communities that the toilet is not a trash can, and items claiming to be flushable should not always be flushed as they could cause expensive and potentially dangerous blockages.