The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rebuked American residents for their bathroom behaviors during the Covid-19 outbreak. Not for handwashing, which is beneficial and encouraged. But for flushing items down the toilet that shouldn’t be flushed.
“Flushing anything other than toilet paper, including disinfecting wipes, can damage internal plumbing, local sewer systems and septic systems,” the agency’s statement reads. “Fixing these backups is costly and takes time and resources away from ensuring that wastewater management systems are otherwise working properly.”
Sanitary wipes are soft and plush and can be appealing when toilet paper is low. But they cause the equivalent of sewer system indigestion when flushed down the toilet.
It’s a message that water utilities are also conveying to their customers, through social media hashtags such as #WipesClogPipes and by sharing images of machinery entangled with rags, wipes, and paper towels, none of which easily breaks down in water like toilet paper.
Water utilities are reporting an increase in sewer overflows due to the blockages.