Public Advised to NOT Flush Disinfecting Wipes, Paper Towels Down Toilet – Throw Them Away Instead


California – we love you, but this has got to stop.

Announcement from the State Water Resources Control Board

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.

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.

Even wipes labeled “flushable” will clog pipes and interfere with sewage collection and treatment throughout the state.

Wastewater treatment facilities around the state already are reporting issues with their sewer management collection systems. These facilities are asking state residents to not discard wipes in the toilet, but instead to throw them in the trash to avoid backups and overflow. A majority of urban centers are on centralized sewage collection systems depend on gravity and enough water flow to move along human waste and biodegrable toilet paper.

The systems were not designed for individual nylon wipes and paper towels. The wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper, and therefore clog systems very quickly.

Wipes are among the leading causes of sewer system backups, impacting sewer system and treatment plant pumps and treatment systems. Many spills go to our lakes, rivers, and oceans where they have broad ranging impacts on public-health and the environment. Preventing sewer spills is important, especially during this COVID-19 emergency, for the protection of public health and the environment.

Please do not flush disinfectant wipes or paper towels down the toilet.

Comparison Video

Video comparing the time it takes for wipes and toilet paper to breakdown

Additional info: Round-up of Coronavirus (COVID-19) wastewater worker safety info  |  More Wipes Stories   |   Wipes info from California Association of Sanitation Agencies

53 comments on “Public Advised to NOT Flush Disinfecting Wipes, Paper Towels Down Toilet – Throw Them Away Instead

  1. Deanna Beeler says:

    Maybe even worse for those of us with septic tanks!

    1. Jane e hanson says:


      1. No name says:

        My brother was six and flushed an entire pear down the toilet. We asked him why and he explained he wanted to see what would happen… you should have seen the look on the plumber’s face when he pulled that out!

    2. Cheri says:

      I’m actually kinda glad that I’m on a septic system. That way I KNOW that no one is flushing things that shouldn’t go in the toilet. It angers me that people don’t realize the public health hazards they are causing even if their own system doesn’t back up; somewhere down the line there will be a problem that will affect many. It’s kinda reassuring that that is one less thing I have to be concerned about.

      1. seamus says:

        hahaha I worked cleaning sewer lines and have seen more than one 8″ line back up causing living rooms on the block to flood.. yes city sewer lines always flood…
        Seamus from Salinas, Ca

    3. ‘I’, “Can ONLY Imagine” !

    4. Margaret says:

      That’s for sure!

    5. Tom curatti says:

      They are!

    6. Michelle Williams says:

      Exactly! We had to snake the pipe going to the septic tank and pull out every personal wipe ever flushed, they were labeled septic safe. It was disgusting and I installed a bidet attachment on my toilet. Scott toilet paper is the only thing we flush now.

    7. Dan says:

      I tell my tenants.. anything other than liquid, doodoo, or toilet paper is $250 minimum chage and having to listen to me and the plumber grossing out on the tampons and baby wipes wrapped on the cable.
      YOU PAY THE $250 NOT ME

    8. Joaane says:

      We have a cesspool pit, goes down a tube to the hole outside..then gets sucked out once a year and our grass stays green never had a problem

  2. Jo Jo says:

    Last weekend when our dog got sick, my boyfriend used couple paper towels to clean up the vomit. I asked what he did with the paper towels as he came from the back room and he said he flushed them down the toilet. Of course I said “Omg! You never ever flush those down the toilet!! Are you Crazy??” So luckily nothing bad happened after that…whew!! I was soooo nervous about he did and thought we would have an overflow!!

    1. The problem isn’t just that it would overflow YOUR system, but they get caught up later down the line and clog up the entire city’s system. Causing overflows in your city that go in to your lakes and oceans.

      1. Jerome Restof says:

        Yup. Exactly. At my job people flush paper towels in the public toilets, and every 4 months we have to get RotoRouter out to unclog the sewer lines. The clog occurs where our line meets the main street line.

      2. Nothing BAD Happened ?
        It’s Definitely Clogged up ‘Down the Line’ !

  3. Joan Levesque says:

    That has been what creates so much cost to apartment owners as will as towns and cities. Another thing is disposable diapers even if they are newborn size to flush them down the toilet they EXPAND AND WILL CLOG any pipe! Think before you flush anything down your toilet other than toilet paper!

    1. Berlinda Blackburn says:

      Diapers?! Wowzers! Why would anyone do that?

      1. BECAUSE, they “Don’t know Any Better” !

      2. Carolyn says:

        My mother was an apartment manager and diapers and feminine products practically had call for fixers every few weeks. They probably wondered why she hadn’t called yet this month.

      3. Retta Jones says:

        People that are ignorant or just stupid do stupid crap all the time, it would help if the high schools taught basic life skills for all students, REQUIRED CLASS.

        1. RJ says:

          How about required parenting classes so parents teach what is necessary ?

    2. Lavada Skata says:

      One plumber I know in South Florida told me numerous problems in apartment complexes and clogged drains.
      In several incidences, he had to cut out sections of 4 inch PVC drain pipes and found them clogged with everything imaginable. Paper towels, condoms, cotton swabs, grease, bones, sanitary napkins, etc.
      He said he made a good living off of people’s stupidity.

  4. Sdr says:

    I never flush paper products. Trash can with bag is where it goes taken out to trash bin daily.

  5. Kent says:

    My son was flushing Q-tips till I stopped that. I had to buy a new toilet anyway but when I replaced it I found a web of junk in my sewer line. Had it all snaked and cleared. And he no longer does that any longer.

    1. Virginia says:

      Yes, Q-tips can definitely cause a toilet to clog. I had that experience too. It’s good that your son stopped doing that!

  6. Leona Macey says:

    There are so many personal products that people think are okay to flush. All of these products should print do not flush on their packaging.

  7. Crystal Eastman says:

    We have an overflow line running out toward the woods behind the house to keep it from backing up in our shower in severe rains. You would be amazed at the plastic debris I have to rake up and discard! People are idiots, flushing diapers, sanitary pads, tampon tubes…..people are trashy!!!

    1. Melissa says:

      Wait, what kind of friggin out of code, health risk situation do you have going on there? Good God almighty. You have other people sewage draining out on the back end of your property?!!

  8. CHERYL HARDY says:

    do not flush Sanitary napkins tampons poise pads down toilet

  9. jean says:

    treat paper towels, napkins, any kind of wipes no matter WHAT IT SAYS, ANYTHING NOT TOILET PAPER. TREAT LIKE TRASH OR A DIAPER. IN the bathroom where paer trash may be from human use put in sealable bag so can be disposed of when full. and avoid odors. great time to learn about compsting toilets and rv types that dissolve waste.

  10. Lavada Skata says:

    Don’t flush anyone other than toilet paper down a toilet. NOTHING ELSE. T.P. is designed to disintegrate in the sewer and septic system. Many years ago down in Fla. a friend of mine and myself dug open the septic tank of his rental as the toilet and two sinks was backing up. Well upon removing the cap, we found a very thick mass floating. We used a shovel to remove this crud. Examining it we found plastic breads bags, sanitary napkins, paper towels, condoms and even string and some pcs of styrofoam. The renters were told by my friend a year early about not flushing anything down a toilet other than t.p. Once we had the owners see what we found, they were embarrassed, then apologized and said they learned a lesson. I have spoken to plumbers I know over the years and the stories are similar. Other things flushed down a toilet are meat fats from a roast along with some of the smaller bones from poultry. Even ping pong and golf balls, along with balled up pieces of aluminum foil. This it the stuff the near useless educational system doesn’t teach you. Life skills. Eventually you are going to pay for your stupidity. As the old saying goes>>
    Ignorance costs more than knowledge.

    1. Carol says:

      I learned the hard way too but many years ago. Hubby had to call the plumber cuz he tried to fix it being he can do most anything as far as home improvement. Plumber got it out finally and showed my hubby what it was. Yikes when hubby told me I was embarrassed but thankful I learned then not to pay attention to what’s told on packaging. Pay attention to my hubby!! Lol. But products should say NOT flushable and hopefully the word gets out.

  11. They must have flushed their common sense down first.
    Maybe they need to install pay as you go toilets to pay for the problem they are contributing to personally.
    (That will never happen!)

  12. Richard Giardina says:

    So where is all the toilet paper? Haven’t seen any in the stores in over a week?

    1. Carol says:

      Waiting to be used is my guess. In people’s houses just in case the world comes to an end they want to end up not being without TP I suppose. That and food in our area. They need to be more focused on where they’re going from here.

  13. Steve says:

    Here we go again. Homeowners
    Responsible for the bill, know the
    Drill. What gets flushed down the

    1. Carol says:

      Yep we been married almost 50 years now and hubby worked in sewer Dept and then water distribution. He set me straight when we needed plumber to come out cuz he didn’t have the proper tool to fix it. The plumber pulled it out and showed hubby what was plugged up. Needless to say I was embarrassed but so glad plumber showed him and not me. Lol. Never happened again and we raised three girls to know too!

  14. Monica Robinson says:

    I always say only flush natural waste down the toilet with your biodegradable toilet paper nothing more. I told our tenant NO feminine products down the toilet and when we had our septic tank pumped after our tenants moved out the septic tank pump company said there were more than usual products and could have cost us even more to replace our septic tank. We were lucky it only cost us $100 extra for that pump.

  15. Kristin says:

    Using a bidet can help conserve toilet paper. Some bidet toilet seats can be found for $100 or less on sites such as eBay and Amazon. There are also incinerating toilets that burn everything into ash instead of flushing it down. Composting toilets also exist and I’ve seen plans to build one on the Internet, but you have to be careful where you dump the compost because of health concerns.

  16. Harold Stevlingson says:

    I’ve been using a spray bidet since 2006, I blast my booty arctic fresh after a dump. No toilet paper bills, saving the rain forest and no racing strips on underwear!😺 I find it embarrassing to use toilet paper, it’s so 20th century. Wake up people, get that cool booty kissing freshness haha, it’s the best.

  17. Virginia says:

    I recently started using the many old towels I keep in the back of one of my kitchen drawers as often as I can in place of paper towels. I know this article is mainly about plugging up sewer lines, but I have been amazed at how often I can use these towels instead of paper and just wash them. Of course I use a disinfectant when I wash them but it saves a lot of paper and therefore trees. There are just so many things that we can do to cut down on waste as well as learning the few things that can go down the drain.

  18. Stella says:

    Cigarette filters too people! Those clog everything!
    My husband worked in the manholes/testing the sewers…toothbrushes, tampons, and tons of paper towels were always tangled up in the equipment.
    Humans are disgusting!

  19. Vivien Minshull-Ford says:

    Use 1-ply toilet paper only. It works just as well, costs less, and much better for the pipes and the environment. No brainer.

  20. John Evans says:

    We have become so far removed from the reality of our waste management that we have no clue! Just because it goes down the toilet OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND don’t cut it.

  21. Bob C Wisconsin says:

    I live in a 300 home community with a closed septic system. Community management has warned us repeatedly about “flushable” wipes, feminine products, etc. It’s a senior community, so condoms aren’t much of an issue.

  22. Mel says:

    California, I have no idea why I would love you more than any of the other 49-odd cousins I have, but seriously. SERIOUSLY…you don’t know this? GROW THE HELL UP!

  23. Amy says:

    Hubby was a plumber. He told me yep no tampons no wipes.

  24. Ana fuentes says:

    We own a trailer court in Firebaugh Ca. Have had to call plumber 2X in 2 weels to unclog…..just about had it!!!

  25. Brent says:

    Every bathroom needs a trash can… The toilet is NOT a trash can!!! I have removed makeup bottles, toilet paper dispenser holders, charge cards, Etc. Even spoons ,forks and toothbrushes ???
    If you turn down the water supply valve, the toilet will fill slowly and the children will lose interest and not use the toilet for their prolonged flushing entertainment 🙂

  26. Betty Chatigny says:

    My question: How does the company who manufactures these “Kleenex” flushable products, as well as the product “Curash” get away scott-free by manufacturing products that contain obvious lies? It seems to me they would be liable for all the costs associated with cleaning up after their misleading claims.

    1. Dee says:

      And why label “flushable “ if it’s not really flushable safe?

  27. Paula Z says:

    I was leading a tour of home-schooled kids through the treatment facility and at the bar screens, several condoms came up on the rake. One young boy asked me “What are those?” I glanced at his panic-stricken mother and calmly replied, “Those are water balloons. Ya’ hold ’em up to the faucet and if they slip through your fingers down into the drain, then they come here.” His bright little eyes were spinning and with a sheepish grin he said, “Boy, that kid lost a whole bag full.” Funny what people flush – not so funny for us to fish out and dispose of properly.

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