As Californians continue to stockpile disinfecting wipes and paper towels to sanitize their homes amid widespread coronavirus concerns, state water regulators this week reminded individuals to throw those items in the trash rather than flush them down the toilet.
Nylon wipes and paper towels are stronger than toilet paper and do not break down in water in the same fashion. Flushing them can quickly cause clogs, wreaking havoc on sewer systems and treatment plant pumps and resulting in spills that end up in lakes, rivers and the ocean, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.
“Flushing wipes, paper towels and similar products down toilets 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 board wrote in a prepared statement. “Even wipes labeled flushable will clog pipes and interfere with sewage collection and treatment throughout the state.”