Don’t send problems down the drain

The next time you pick up a package of “flushable” personal wipes, think twice: they’re not as flushable as their manufacturers imply.

Truth be told, they’re clogging up wastewater treatment plants across the country —  including those operated by Lehigh County Authority.

A story from the Sept. 7th edition of The Washington Post  illustrates just how widespread the problem has become: 

“Sewer agencies in the Washington area and across the country say the rapidly growing use of pre-moistened “personal” wipes — used most often by potty-training toddlers and people seeking what’s advertised as a more “thorough” cleaning than toilet paper — are clogging pipes and jamming pumps.”

The article goes on to point out that many of the items marketed as “flushable” really aren’t. Among other culprits are the aforementioned baby wipes and disposable, pop-off toilet-cleaning scrubbers.

The result is clogged pipes — which leads to sewage systems that can back up into houses — and pumps that jam and break. LCA Project Coordinator Lance Babbitt said that in one incident, a grinder pump that was less than a year old failed, and the manufacturer refused to repair it under warranty. The culprit? Baby/personal wipes that had jammed the costly mechanism. Babbitt said the amount of wipes that were untangled from the pump filled up two large garbage bags.

The problem isn’t limited to so-called “flushable” items, however. Feminine products, paper towels, dental floss, condoms — anything that doesn’t quickly disintegrate or biodegrade will cause pipes to clog and pumps to jam.

So please, before you flush anything down the toilet, think first about the damage it could do to your plumbing — and the sewer system. Stick to what your toilet was intended for, and everyone will be happy.


A short list of things that don’t belong in the sewer system:

  • Personal/baby wipes (whether they’re marketed as “flushable” or not)
  • Paper towels
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Grease
  • Chewing gum
  • Cigarette butts
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Dental floss
  • Condoms
  • “Flushable” toilet scrubbers