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Flushing toilet paper alternatives could land you a costly bill

Posted at 4:27 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 18:27:30-04

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — With toilet paper in high demand, some are turning to flushable wipes and other alternatives, but local plumbers warn flushing those alternatives can have an unexpected negative impact on your wallet.

Scott Ferguson is a fourth generation plumber. He says he responds to calls about clogs from "flushable" wipes daily. He says most people don't realize the wipes don't break down the way toilet paper does. It's a misconception that could land you a hefty bill.

"It's like flushing down a cloth or a rag if it's not breaking down like toilet paper," Ferguson said.

"It doesn't take much for that stuff to build up and clog," agreed Grant Hughes, a branch manager for Master Plumbing Magic Valley.

Flushing wipes can impact you, but it can also clog up your community's waste treatment system.

"They clog the propellers and the engines and the motors," Ferguson said. "They cause nightmares."

The City of Hagerman's Public Works Department knows all too well how big those clogs can get. The city has had to spend big bucks replacing parts of their waste management system.

"The one listation cost us almost 8 thousand dollars just on the one," said Justin Hulme with the City of Hagerman Public Works.

Septic systems aren't immune either. Flushable wipes, paper towels and even napkins will line the bottom of your septic system and can eventually cause clogs--although it does depend what kind of system you have.

"If you're using them very frequently they will create quite the crust in your septic tank," Hughes said.

If you choose to use toilet paper alternatives, the best way to get rid of them is to just throw them away.

The only three things that should go down the drain, according to the plumbers, are the three P's: pee, poop, and toilet paper.