Don’t Flush Those “Flushable” Wipes!

A message from

The City of Forks

Do any of the following items get flushed down the toilet or drains in your home?

Wet wipes (baby wipes, pre-moistened towelettes, cleaning wipes, etc., even those marked “flushable”), Q-Tips or cotton balls/pads, sanitary products, condoms, diapers, dental floss, tissues or paper towels, kitty litter (even that marked “flushable”), hair, gum, cooking grease, fish (goldfish, pet fish), food, medication, cigarette butts, bleach

You may be surprised to learn that flushing many of these items can wreak havoc on plumbing, as well as septic and sewer systems by either clogging the system or filling the tank, or by damaging equipment. Wet wipes, for example, may go down the toilet smoothly, but they tend to congregate at 45-degree elbows in home plumbing, eventually clogging the pipes completely.

Even if items such as wet wipes, tissues, and diapers do make it to the sewer system’s wastewater treatment plant, they can get caught in pumps and other equipment, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

When these items reach a septic system, they do not break down as you might expect and can quickly contribute to a full septic tank that needs to be pumped at your expense.

Items that have been pulled from equipment at the City’s wastewater treatment plant include toy figurines and cars, golf balls, jewelry and accessories, pacifiers, tools, desiccated frogs, and even dentures!

Sewer and septic systems rely on a carefully balanced bacterial environment that supports the anaerobic process that reduces waste. Items such as medication, the chemicals in cigarette butts, and bleach can disrupt the delicate environment of bacteria that breaks down waste.

We are all familiar with the problems that result from the overuse of antibiotics, primarily disruption of the delicate balance between helpful bacteria that support immunity and proper digestion, and those that are immune to antibiotics. Certain stages of a sewer system, as well as a home septic system, work in much the same way as your gut and are just as sensitive to disruptions in the bacterial environment.

Please think carefully the next time you flush something down the toilet or drain. You can prevent clogged pipes and full septic tanks, help the City’s sewer system and wastewater treatment plant or your home septic system to work with maximum efficiency, and lower cost to you, whether in the form of sewer charges or septic tank maintenance.