Don’t flush disinfecting wipes: Even ‘flushable’ ones can clog pipes, officials warn

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Wet wipes. (Credit: Getty Images)

(KTLA) — While public health professionals are urging everyone to wipe down surfaces with disinfecting wipes to stave off coronavirus, water officials are worried a dramatic rise in the number of people flushing wipes will overwhelm wastewater treatment plants and home plumbing.

It’s important to throw wipes, paper towels and other cleaning materials in the trash, not down the toilet, the Caliornia Water Resources Control Board said in a news release Tuesday.

Even if your wipes claim to be “flushable,” authorities say they will back up your pipes and create sewage treatment issues.

Trying to flush them “will clog sewers and cause backups and overflows at wastewater treatment facilities, creating an additional public health risk in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,” the release states.

Wastewater facilities across California have already reported issues — especially in metropolitan areas, where centralized collection systems rely on gravity and water flow to move waste along.

“The systems were not designed for individual nylon wipes and paper towels,” officials said. “The wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper, and therefore clog systems very quickly.”

When wipes create backup, overflows can spill into lakers, rivers and oceans — where the impact on public health and the environment will be even greater.

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