SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – When people reach for disinfectant wipes to protect themselves from the coronavirus, we are reminded to throw them in the trash and not to flush them down the toilet.
These wipes and other toilet paper substitutes can lead to an increase in clogged plumbing in San Jose.
Those still hard to find, disinfectant wipes that kill cold and flu viruses are now widely used for wiping door handles, countertops, TV remotes, and other touch sensitive surfaces.
They shouldn’t be flushed in the toilet, but it still happens, says Colin Heyne of the City of San Jose.
“We’re seeing an increase in service requests, mostly for cleaning people. That is the underground sewer access in their homes. Fortunately, we are not seeing an increase in sewer drains,” Heyne said.
While disinfectant wipes are great at killing most bacteria and viruses, they don’t break down as easily as toilet paper.
In large quantities, they can plug pipes, secure sewers, and cause major problems for sewage treatment plants, says Jennie Loft of Environmental Health.
“It won’t flush, it won’t go through the system, it won’t dissolve properly like toilet paper, it will get stuck in your pipes. We have devices that shield the cloths and any solid materials that get through the system. Therefore we would like to ask residents not to put this material in the toilet at all, ”said Loft.
In relation to this lack of toilet paper in recent weeks, there has also been an increase in clogged pipes and cleaning with materials even more problematic than wipes.
“We’re also seeing more non-flushable items like cloth, T-shirts and cotton fabrics. When people run out of toilet paper, we want to make sure they use something else,” Heyne said.