Save your pipes and don’t flush wipes — trash them instead
Problems associated with “flushable” wipes in the pipes is becoming a familiar lament for utilities dealing with this growing problem. While flushable wet wipes can meet the literal definition of being able to be flushed, they fall short of the mark for disintegrating once they enter the wastewater collection and treatment systems.
Unlike toilet paper, which quickly breaks down, wipes can get caught up in sewer lift stations and at the entry point of the treatment plant. These wipes can cause costly sewer malfunctions that can spill into the street or backup into the home, where they can cost money and damage the environment.
It is not only these flushable wipes that are the culprit. There are also the same problems associated with flushing other items that clog pipes and cause blockages.
To avoid clogs, DO NOT put the following items in your toilet:
- Any “flushable” wipes
- Cleaning cloths and disposable mop pads
- Bandaids and wrappers
- Sanitary napkins/care products and wrappers
- Condoms and wrappers
- Kitty litter
- Dental floss
- Cotton swabs
- Toilet seat covers
- Makeup pads and pre-moistened towelettes
When it comes to the toilet, flush only human waste and toilet paper. All other items belong in the trash.
Keeping Fats, Oils, and Grease out of the Sewer System
Fats, oils, and grease — FOG — comes from meat fats in food scraps, cooking oil, shortening, lard, butter and margarine, gravy, and food products such as mayonnaise, salad dressings, and sour cream.
FOG poured down kitchen drains accumulates inside sewer pipes. As the FOG builds up, the grease solidifies and causes buildup in the pipes, becoming a hardened mass. This restricts the flow in the pipe and can cause untreated wastewater to back up into homes and businesses, resulting in high costs for cleanup and restoration.
Manholes can overflow into parks, yards, streets, and storm drains, allowing FOG to contaminate local waterways. Exposure to untreated wastewater is a public-health hazard.
FOG discharged into septic systems and drain fields can cause malfunctions, resulting in more frequent tank pump-outs and other expenses.
Keeping FOG out of the sewer system helps everyone in the community.
What You Can Do to Reduce FOG
Just a few simple actions can prevent FOG buildup in the sewer system. Following these dos and don’ts will help you and your neighbors avoid expensive sewer backups, plumbing emergencies, and rate increases to cover sewer maintenance and repairs, while helping protect water quality in our community.
- Recycle used cooking oil or properly dispose of it by pouring it into a sealable container and placing the sealed container in the trash. To recycle large amounts, such as what’s left over from a catfish fry or frying a turkey, contact a local recycler, such as Green Oil Recycler (321-403-1771). Another option if you have a lot of oil to dispose of is to use clay cat litter. Just mix the litter, a little at a time, into the oil. When all the oil has been absorbed, pour the cat litter into a trash bag, seal the bag, then dispose of it in your regular trash.
- Scrape food scraps into the trash, not the sink.
- Wipe pots, pans and dishes with dry paper towels before rinsing or washing them, then throw away the paper towels.
- Place a catch basket or screen over the sink drain when rinsing dishware, or when peeling or trimming food, to catch small scraps that would otherwise be washed down the drain. Throw the scraps in the trash.
- Rinse dishes and pans with cold water before putting them in the dishwasher. Hot water melts the fats, oils, and grease (FOG) off the dishes and into the sewer pipes. Later on in the sewer, the hot water cools and the FOG may clog the pipes.
- Don’t use a garbage disposal or food grinder. Grinding food up before rinsing it down the drain does not remove FOG; it just makes the pieces smaller. Even non-greasy food scraps can plug your home’s sewer lines. So, don't put food of any kind down the drain.
- Don’t pour cooking oil, pan drippings, bacon grease, salad dressings or sauces down the sink or toilet, or into street gutters or storm drains.
- Don’t use cloth towels or rags to scrape plates or clean greasy or oily dishware. When you wash them, the grease will end up in the sewer.
- Don’t run water over dishes, pans, fryers, and griddles to wash oil and grease down the drain.
- Don't flush any type of wipe down the commode. Even flushable wipes only break down into smaller pieces. This gives FOG something to cling to and build up more quickly.