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Don’t Flush “Flushable Wipes”

March 21, 2020

Residents are urged to think about what they flush

There is never a good time for a toilet to back-up in your home, or the sewer line for your apartment building, or your whole street.  But now, at a time when we are being quarantined or self-isolated at home due to COVID-19, nobody wants a situation that would force you out of your home where you are safest.

Residents are asked to NOT flush anything but the 3P’s – pee, poop and paper (toilet paper).

There has been a rush on toilet paper so some people may need to consider alternative products.   Yes, there are many alternatives, but they CANNOT BE FLUSHED.

Our municipal sewer systems are built to handle human waste and toilet paper that is specifically designed to deteriorate quickly.  Anything else put down your toilet or sink (including products labelled flushable) causes problems that lead to clogs, blockages and wastewater equipment damage. Any of these situations can shut down sewer systems.

Fats, oils and grease (FOG) poured down the sink, congeal and line the sewer walls, then ‘so-called flushable’ wipes, paper towels and hygiene products collect together with the grease to form clogs.  This can block your toilet, your home sewer line, or form “fatbergs” constricting the sewers of entire neighbourhoods. These clogs can also result in overflows of raw sewage into local water bodies.

This picture was taken on March 17, 2020 at a sewage pumping station in London, ON. Hanna staff have seen similar items in Hanna’s sewer system. Image Credit: Barry Orr and CWWA.

Raw sewage can back-up into your home and your neighbours’ homes – likely requiring you to evacuate your house for professional cleaning.  Large blockages often require municipal staff to clear them, at a time when our efforts and tax dollars need to be focused on critical services.

The Canadian Water and Wastewater Association as well as the Town of Hanna have been sharing the 3P’s message for years, but it has never been more important than now.   Municipalities are seeing a very significant upward spike in the number of clogs attributable to increased use of ‘alternative’ products such as toilet wipes, paper towels and even tissues (that do not break down like toilet paper).

“To be clear, it doesn’t matter if the manufacturer claims on the package label it is ‘flushable’, it is not.  Staff have also seen the increased flushing of cleaning wipes and rubber gloves.

Please remember that your toilets are not garbage cans.

Please do NOT flush the following

  • Wipes marked “flushable”
  • Tampons and sanitary products
  • Cigarettes
  • Medications
  • Paper Towels
  • Dental Floss
  • Hair
  • Cleaning Wipes & Rags
  • Cotton Balls & Swabs
  • Cat Litter
  • Condoms
  • Facial Tissues
  • Cooking Oil or Food