No wipes in the pipes: Guidelines on how to avoid clogging the sewer system

Author: Silvia-Antonia Rus

The COVID-19 outbreak derails regular routines and supplies in drastic ways. One of the ways that it impacts daily life is the limited supply of toilet paper across stores. People are also using more cleaning wipes to make sure that we clean and sanitize our homes to prevent illnesses. These actions can impact septic systems if we are not careful.

Flushing wipes instead of toilet paper may lead to clogs in your pipes and sewage backing up into your house. Wipes and paper towels cannot disintegrate in the plumbing as easily as toilet paper, partially due to the materials that make them strong. Other substances coat personal wipes such as baby wipes or facial tissues that may not be safe for the septic system, especially because they accumulate on pipes. Check out this video by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to see how toilet paper breaks down in water, but wipes don’t.

Repairing these problems can be very expensive. But if you follow these easy steps, you can do your part to protect your family from sewage illnesses and your septic system from possible failures.

During these times, it is important to continue following the COVID-19 guidelines, while being mindful of the potential effects of our actions. For instance, remembering to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after flushing helps reduce the transmission of the virus from person-to-surface-to-person.

Cleaning your home frequently and being conscientious about what you flush will create a safer environment for you and your family, our county’s wastewater system, and the broader environment.