Wipes Clog Pipes

Think soft, convenient wet wipes are harmless?  Think again!  When disposed of incorrectly, wet wipes turn into real monsters.  All types of wipes, be it for babies, disinfecting, personal cleaning, or makeup removal, create nasty and serious problems in our sewer system.  They clump together to form what water professionals refer to as a "mophead."  The one to the right was pulled from the Middle Oconee Water Reclamation Facility.  

Even flushing one seemingly harmless wipe leads to trouble.  Unlike toilet paper, wet wipes do not break down in water.  They lurk in our pipes, clinging to other sewage and trash to form large masses that block our pipelines and damage our water reclamation facility equipment.  These growing monsters cause raw sewage to overflow in your home and ooze from manhole covers. The removal of this debris and the repair of damaged equipment leads to greater expenses for Athens-Clarke County water customers which is passed on through sewer rates.

The "mophead" pulled from equipment weighed about 900-pounds - the same as a full-grown grizzly bear!

A huge clump of wipes and other trash pulled from the water reclamation facility equipment

What Can You Do?

  • Wipe-out Wipes:  Use good old-fashioned toilet paper to clean up.
  • Make Your Own Wipes:  Keep a spray bottle of water by the toilet. Fold up your toilet paper and spritz with water, then wipe.  Want something fancier?  Try this recipe for a homemade wipe solution: 2/3 c. warm water, 1/2 tsp. baby wash, & 1-2 drops of tea tree oil.  Mix in a container to use when the time is right.
  • Remember:  YOUR TOILET IS NOT A TRASH CAN!   We aren't telling you not to use wipes, but if you choose these products, PUT THEM IN THE TRASH can, not the commode.  Afraid it may cause odors?  Place used wipes in a small trash can with a tight-fitting lid, a Diaper Genie II, or old grocery bags you can tightly seal.  Place an air freshener that neutralizes odors in the bathroom.

See for yourself

View a comparison test conducted by Consumer Reports to see how toilet paper and "flushable" wipes respond to water.

Some companies are working to solve the utilities' wipe gripe.  They are developing new combinations of materials that will break down faster in the water.  Unless you know for certain you have one of these products, and there are not many of them, toss them.  Remember, "When in doubt, throw it out."