Please don't flush disinfecting wipes, paper towels in the toilet

Please don’t flush disinfecting wipes, paper towels in the toilet

in Community/Featured/Headline

Please don’t throw disinfecting wipes in the toilet. They belong in the trash.

That’s the message from local and state officials this week as citizens increase their use of disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Wastewater treatment facilities around the state are reporting issues with their sewer management collection system due to the problem of wipes, paper towels and similar products being flushed down the toilet, according to the California State Water Resources Control Board. Even wipes labeled “flushable” can clog sewers and cause backups and overflows at wastewater treatment facilities, officials said. This could create “an additional public health risk in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,” the Water Board said.

Earlier this week, the City of Redwood offered this useful statement: “Only the 3 Ps should go down the toilet (pee, poo and tP), everything else should be thrown in the trash can.”

The City of San Mateo shared a similar message today on social media, adding that some anti-bacterial sanitizers have harmful chemicals that can “hurt our water” when flushed rather than discarded in the trash.

Wipes, the leading cause of sewer system backups, along with paper towel don’t break down like toilet paper and clog systems quickly. Backups cause spills that end up in lakes, rivers and the ocean with harmful environmental impacts, state officials said.