Don't flush the "flushables" 2013.01.23

Written by David Green.

Manufacturers of various cleaning products label their items as "flushable." Fayette's sewage treatment personnel urge residents not to believe that claim.

As the number of “flushable” cleaning products continues to grow—ranging from bathroom wipes to baby wipes to moist wipes for adults—utility engineers across the nation are suggesting that toilet paper is the only product that should go down the toilet.

Disposable isn’t flushable, and the push for flushable products—and the resulting problems—has led to new disposal laws in some communities.

Lift stations and treatment systems have had to be cleaned of flushable products in many communities, but it's not only a potential problem for municipal systems. Wipes can catch on tree roots that have entered sewage lines and force raw sewage to back up into basements. If the blockage occurs between a house and the street, it’s the property owner’s responsibility to have the line cleaned.

The following guidelines relating to flushing items down the drain were offered by former Fayette utilities engineer Bob Seigneur:

• Toilet paper is 100 percent biodegradable and should be the only commercial product flushed down the toilet.

• Most wipes labeled “flushable” can plug a sewer line as quickly as standard wipes.

• Disposable products are made to be thrown into the trash, not flushed down the toilet.

• Teeth whitening strips, dental floss and towelettes for cleaning, polishing and dusting can also clog sewer lines.

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