COVID-19 and Your Toilet

What will clog your pipes?
toilet paper

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, toilet paper has been an empty shelf in almost all locations. But due to the current pandemic, people are you running out of toilet paper. We of Lower Swatara Township, ask you to please not make matters worse by flushing something that can clog pipes, as well as, the sanitary sewers. 

As William Shakespeare once wrote, To Be or Not to Be ... flushed down the toilet? Am I right? 

It turns out that households with a lower toilet paper supply are turning to other options. Some are turning to wipes, other paper goods or toilet paper "alternatives" and flushing them down the toilet as they normally would. But sewage systems are not equipped to handle these other items. The sewer systems will clog and become packed with these items and start causing the toilets to overflow into your home. 

So, to prevent this nightmare during this scary time, we would like to provide you with some items that ABSOLUTELY CANNOT go down the toilet and some items that may. Just a note, as per general plumbing company guidelines only waste and toilet tissue should be flushed. 

1. Lysol Wipes, Baby Wipes, and Other Wipes

Their packages state they are "flushable" but they are NOT SAFE TO FLUSH! Lysol wipes, Clorox wipes, baby wipes, or anything that is wipe form, is not safe to flush down the toilet. Though flushable wipes may degrade faster than 'non-flushable' wipes, they still don't degrade fast enough to keep pipes clear and unclogged. Toilet paper breaks down pretty much as soon as it gets wet, it takes time for flushable wipes to do the same. Before they break down, they're just sitting in your toilet pipes, slowing everything up. 

2. Paper Towels

They are a paper product, similar to toilet paper, but it doesn't mean that you can safely flush paper towels. The reason paper towels -- and wipes, for that matter -- don't dissolve quickly like toilet paper does and has to do with the way they're made. They are built with a heavier or tighter weave than toilet paper to have a scrubbing capability. This heavy weave will not breakdown or disintegrate and results in a bigger headache than homeowners may consider. This means that even if your toilet escapes unscathed, the paper towels could build up in the sewer system and cause even bigger problems. 

3. Kitchen Napkins

More bad news to come folks, not even the square paper napkins that you use in your kitchen are healthy for your toilet. They have the same issue as paper towels, they do not disintegrate fast enough to be flushed down the toilet safely. They will cause a backup in your toilet's pipe system and down stream in the sewer system. 

4. Newspapers

Unfortunately, print will not die in your toilet pipes either. This is not a viable solution in desperate times. Not only will newspaper clog your pipes, the ink could actually irritate your skin. 

5. Coffee Filters 

Some people have suggested using miscellaneous home items like coffee filters, cotton rounds, even the empty cardboard toilet paper roll. And though, again, you're welcome to use them -- bag them up and toss them in the trash -- you shouldn't be flushing any of these items down the toilet. Take coffee filters for example, they're designed to get wet and stay intact. That means that they're certainly not going to dissolve quickly or easily in the plumbing. And as for cotton rounds, anything cotton makes the list of DO NOT FLUSH.

 

Now we would give you some light on the horizon. There are products which can be used as a toilet paper alternatives. But be warned, these items still need to be used with care.

1. Toilet Seat Covers

Toilet seat covers are designed to be flushed and breakdown similarly like toilet paper. They are incredible thin and won't clog pipes. They are probably the best toilet paper alternative when it comes to flush-ability. Just make sure they're approved for septic and traditional tanks. And use common sense, don't try to flush several at once. 

2. Tissues

Tissues might be the lesser of several evils right now. They're still not ideal, and using a large quantity at a time, even the amount you'd use in place of toilet paper, could clog your pipes as surely as any of these others. But if you're careful and don't use much of it, you should be able to get away with flushing it. It is important to know, that if you take the tissue route, please flush frequently. Do not allow large amounts of tissues to be used at once and flushed all at the same time. It may be better to clean with tissues and then toss in the trash in regards to this alternative.