Don’t Rush to Flush — Flushing Do’s and Don’ts – Project Clean Water

Don’t Rush to Flush — Flushing Do’s and Don’ts

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Flushing Do’s and Don’ts

Did you know that wipes, paper towels and similar products, when flushed down toilets, do not break down properly and can cause significant problems for our sewer system and treatment plants? And don’t be fooled by those products labeled as ‘flushable’ – they are not compatible with sewer systems, the material can damage and cause backups to your home, business, and community.

Flushing products other than biodegradable toilet paper down our toilets not only clogs pipes and causes sewer backups, overflows, and spills, but it creates an additional public health risk. This is critical in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic where public agencies are encouraging Californians to follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations to clean surfaces with disinfecting wipes to reduce the spread of COVID-19. An added factor is the difficulty of finding toilet paper causing residents to consider alternative products to toilet paper that are not designed to be flushed.

Don’t Rush to Flush

Wipes impact sewer system and treatment plants throughout the state by causing sewer system clogs, backups, and spills. Even though they are marketed as ‘flushable,’ nylon wipes often do not break down properly after being flushed. The wipes can then catch on tree roots and accumulate with fats, oils and grease, becoming large obstructions in private sewer laterals and public sewer mains that eventually may lead to a sewage spill. Many sewer spills go to our lakes, rivers, and oceans and can be harmful to our public health and the environment.

Here is a basic chart on what is OK to flush and what needs to be placed in the trash:

Ok to Flush

Put in Trash

Human waste

Wipes of all kinds – disinfectant, baby, ‘flushable’

Toilet paper

Paper towels

Other non-toilet paper products

For more information on wastewater treatment, contact your local wastewater or sewer agency. To learn more about preventing stormwater pollution and informational resources, check out our Education and Outreach page.

Thank you for doing your part to keep our wastewater and sewage systems functioning during these difficult times.