Americans coping with coronavirus are clogging toilets with wipes and T-shirts

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  3 days ago  •  28 comments

By:   Corky Siemaszko

Americans coping with coronavirus are clogging toilets with wipes and T-shirts
"Toilets are not trash cans," the EPA is warning as a shortage of toilet paper leads to desperate measures.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

The all-caps message on the new sign that went up in Redding, California, after the   coronavirus   came to town could not be any clearer: ONLY FLUSH TOILET PAPER.

It made its debut last week on the corner of Smile Place and Russell Street after a desperate soul clogged one of the city’s sewer lines by wiping with pieces of shredded T-shirt — and flushing them down the toilet, the city confirmed.

Quick work by members of the city’s Department of Public Works averted what could have been a smelly disaster, officials there said.

200324-only-flush-toilet-paper-corky-ac- The City of Redding has put up signs warning residents not to flush anything that isn't toilet paper.   Courtesy City of Redding

“The sewer line that had plugged up last week was not substantially different than any other sewer blockage from people flushing products that they aren’t supposed to, just that it was during the toilet paper shortage and was intentionally flushed in lieu of traditional toilet paper,” Ryan Bailey, assistant director of public works, said in an email to NBC News. “The item was specifically cut T-shirts.”

What happened in Redding is not an anomaly.

There have been reports of sewage systems and toilets clogging across the country as Americans faced with a shortage of toilet paper have resorted to using baby wipes, paper towels, napkins and tissues — and flushing them away.

Washington has taken notice.

"Toilets are not trash cans," the Environmental Protection Agency said in a tweet posted Monday.

Roto-Rooter , one of the nation’s biggest plumbing service providers, has sent out an email to its many customers spelling out the “flushing rules.”

“If you're all out of toilet paper, there's no perfect solution, but you should never flush paper towels and napkins,” the rules state. “They don't dissolve quickly in water and are likely to cause your toilet to back up. Facial tissue is another bad idea, but in the absence of toilet paper, you can use it in small amounts if you flush frequently.”

In South Florida, the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department urged residents to bag dirty wipes instead and throw them out with the trash.

“This increase in the use of cleaning wipes is only exacerbating a problem we deal with on a daily basis,” Jennifer Messemer-Skold told the   Miami Herald .

The county already removes 300 tons of wipes from its sewer system every month, the paper reported.

And in Chicago, retired plumber Craig Campeglia told the   Chicago Tribune   that he expects the phones of sewer drain experts will be ringing off the hook once the shelter-at-home rules start easing up.

“This is a crazy time,” Campeglia said. “I don’t know why people are hoarding toilet paper. But I do know the only thing that should go down a toilet is sh--, pi-- and toilet paper. Anything else, put it in a bag, seal it up and toss it in the garbage. That’s what it’s for.”

In New York City, the owner of Queens-based   Johnny Drain Cleaning   said they were routinely cleaning out sewage lines clogged with “tissues and wipes and other stuff” even before this crisis.

“But for some reason, lately, the lines are being clogged by people using too much toilet paper,” said the owner, who goes by Johnny Drain. “I don’t get it.”

“Drain is my stage name,” he added with a chuckle. And his business is located in, of course, the Flushing neighborhood of Queens.

There has also been a run on disinfectant wipes, the result of well-meaning homeowners who have been following the recommendations of public health officials and sterilizing often-touched surfaces such as faucets, doorknobs and countertops, industry experts said.

Those disinfectant wipes, all too often, also wind up in the toilet, Bailey from Redding, California, said.

“Nonflushable products have always been a problem in sewer systems,” he said. “We spend a lot of time and money every year trying to educate people about the problem with flushing anything down the toilet other than traditional toilet paper. In recent years, there has been an increased market for ‘flushable’ wipes and other products, none of which are designed to break down during the treatment process.”

But the current crisis has forced Redding officials to take extra measures.

They have started distributing door hangers that say “Think Before You Flush” and list what can or can’t be flushed down the can.

And that sign?

“The sign was initially located in the neighborhood of the incident,” Bailey said. “We have since moved it around town.”


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Buzz of the Orient
1  Buzz of the Orient    3 days ago

I didn't know that insanity was a side-effect of fear of covid-19.   Such panic.  Just use a washcloth and wash it after use.  No need to tear up the bedsheets and curtains into squares.  Unbelievable.  I posted an article here about this.

1.1  WallyW  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    3 days ago


1.1.1  katrix  replied to  WallyW @1.1    3 days ago

Huh. Only person I know of personally who lives in Redding is a conservative Trump worshipper


1.1.2  XDm9mm  replied to  WallyW @1.1    3 days ago
Baby wipes work fine.


While those "flushable" wipes and 'baby wipes' work fine and get flushed away easily, they are NOT//NOT sewer system friendly by any stretch of the imagination.

They don't degrade quickly as does TP.  The bind up the grinders and pumps in the sewage system pumping stations.  They in fact cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to the sewer systems nationwide every year.  And people with an on-site septic system can look forward to rebuilding the entire system at a cost of tens of thousands and it's not covered by insurance.

Yeah, if you want to use them, use them.  But toss them in the trash and NOT down the toilet.

1.1.3  Ender  replied to  XDm9mm @1.1.2    3 days ago

I have tried to tell people that. The response is usually that it says flushable on the package.

I think that is a major part of the problem. They should be forced to change that bit of advertising.

Just because something can be flushed, doesn't mean it should be.

MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)
1.1.4  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)  replied to  Ender @1.1.3    2 days ago

I've noticed a change to the flushable wipes themselves and I believe that it's in response to the issues that have been caused by flushing them. They begin falling apart before I'm even finished wiping. I didn't want to wake up my household one night after having to use the restroom and I left one flushable wipe and a bit of TP in the toilet until I got up in the morning and the wipe had disintegrated [they never had done so in the past] and while the TP was mush, it was still there and clearly TP. 

1.1.5  XDm9mm  replied to  Ender @1.1.3    2 days ago
Just because something can be flushed, doesn't mean it should be.

Oh so true.  Hell, golf balls and other stuff gets flushed. 

Oh, and do't forget those 'baby alligators' //S//

2  igknorantzrulz    3 days ago


2.1  r.t..b...  replied to  igknorantzrulz @2    3 days ago
people are actually startin to see what happens

...when the shit starts to back-up...

or worse, is spewed about without scientific fact as a temporary salve. Imagine rubbing it all over oneself, claiming it will work, and having the hordes follow along with eyes, ears, and (in this case) noses covered.

Perhaps the one thing that will ensure social-distancing.

2.1.1  katrix  replied to  r.t..b... @2.1    3 days ago

T shirts? I thought that is what the unmatched socks are for.

2.1.2  r.t..b...  replied to  katrix @2.1.1    3 days ago
I thought that is what the unmatched socks are for.

That may be the a load of laundry and discover the one thing every household has in stock...and you can always turn them inside-out.

3  Kavika     3 days ago

Redding CA..isn't that the home of the mythical kingdom of Jeffersonia?

Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
3.1  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom  replied to  Kavika @3    3 days ago

That explains a lot!

3.2  katrix  replied to  Kavika @3    3 days ago


4  jungkonservativ111    3 days ago

A lot of really authentic mexican restaurants have trash cans by the toilets. When I asked about it, apparently Mexicans are already in the habit of throwing even toilet paper in the trash instead of flushing it. Seemed kind of gross at the time but now it seems they were on to something.....

4.1  katrix  replied to  jungkonservativ111 @4    3 days ago

When I was in Tijuana years ago, there were napkins on all the tables ... And no toilet paper in the bathrooms . You were expected to bring napkins with you and use the trash cans 

4.1.1  Ender  replied to  katrix @4.1    3 days ago

When I was in Mexico there were a lot of 'pay' public toilets. They would charge so much for some paper.

4.2  zuksam  replied to  jungkonservativ111 @4    3 days ago

Well it would save hundreds of millions of dollars at sewer treatment plants but bathrooms would stink terribly.

Sparty On
4.3  Sparty On  replied to  jungkonservativ111 @4    3 days ago

That only happens because their Sanitary piping systems tend to suck compared to ours and can’t handle brown trout and wads of TP at the same time.    They plug up.

Be thankful ours generally don’t have that problem.     Just one more thing most Americans take for granted ..

Sparty On
5  Sparty On    3 days ago

Lol ....people trying to assign a political party with stupidity because they do dumbass things like flushing towels and wash clothes down the shitter.

I’m here to tell you, stupidity doesn’t have a political bias.

Not in the least.

5.1  Veronica  replied to  Sparty On @5    3 days ago
I’m here to tell you, stupidity doesn’t have a political bias.

This is so true.  I am so tired of this issue which is affecting the entirety of the country being blamed on Democrats & Republicans.  At a time when we should be coming together the divide is growing.  Ridculous.

Sparty On
5.1.1  Sparty On  replied to  Veronica @5.1    3 days ago

Yep, spot on.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
5.2  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Sparty On @5    3 days ago

I totally agree with you Sparty. I posted this just because I couldn't believe it was an article. 

Sparty On
5.2.1  Sparty On  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5.2    2 days ago

Nah, it’s a great article.    

It illustrates many people’s fundamental misunderstanding of a typical sanitary sewer system.   Well that and simple stupidity.

Hey, if I flush it down the toilet it just magically disappears right?

5.2.2  XDm9mm  replied to  Sparty On @5.2.1    2 days ago
Hey, if I flush it down the toilet it just magically disappears right?

Hell no.  It gets eaten by those baby alligators.

Just Jim NC TttH
6  Just Jim NC TttH    2 days ago


6.1  XDm9mm  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @6    2 days ago

Ok...   I just have to ask.  Where the hell do you get those?

Do you search for absurd quips people come up with 24x7?

Sparty On
6.2  Sparty On  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @6    2 days ago

That was funny enough that I almost sheet my drawers.


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