Next time you go to toss that “flushable” wipe in the toilet, you might want to consider a request from your sewer utility: Don’t.
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.
Utilities struggling with aging infrastructure have wrestled for years with the problem of “ragging” — when baby wipes, dental floss , paper towels and other items not designed for flushing entangle sewer pumps.
The latest menace, officials say, is that wipes and other products, including pop-off scrubbers on toilet-cleaning wands, are increasingly being marketed as “flushable.” Even ever-thickening, super-soft toilet paper is worrisome because it takes longer to disintegrate, some say.
“Just because you can flush it doesn’t mean you should,” said I.J. Hudson, a spokesman for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which handles sewage for 1.8 million residents of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.