COVID-19 Has People Flushing Disinfecting Wipes Down the Toilet and It's Causing Unnecessary Pipe Problems

A lesson in flush etiquette.


Image via Getty/Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe


These trying times may tempt us all to flush everything down the toilet, both literally and metaphorically, but that's no good reason to draw disinfecting wipes into the madness.

Still, enough people have done exactly that to warrant multiple articles in which homebound writers are forced to ponder the inherent existential quandaries represented in the traditional toilet, or whatever.

The California State Water Resources Control Board, for example, was forced to issue a statement this week reminding residents that disinfecting wipes—and, for that matter, wipes of all types—are not toiletable.

"While the State Water Board and other public agencies encourage Californians to follow the Centers for Disease Control recommendations to clean surfaces with disinfecting wipes to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it is important to discard those items in the trash, not the toilet," a rep said. "Flushing wipes, paper towels and similar products down toilets will clog sewers and cause backups and overflows at wastewater treatment facilities."

Such backups and overflows, the rep added, could result in an added public health risk that would only complicate COVID-19 containment efforts. 

CNNadded in their toilet-centered report that California is not alone in issuing a friendly warning of this nature, with additional urgings dropping in South Carolina and Massachusetts, among others. A CBSaffiliate in San Francisco, meanwhile, got some additional commentary from San Rafael Sanitation District vac truck operator Wes Fredenburg, who compared the wipes to "flushing rags down the toilet."

In short, DO use disinfecting wipes whenever possible. However, DO NOT include them in your flush roster. And maybe definitely don't be the guy out there reselling disinfecting wipes, toilet paper, and related must-haves for a profit.

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