Disposable wipes — even ones labeled as flushable — cause major problems when flushed down toilets. Wipes used for changing diapers, personal hygiene, and housecleaning don’t break down the way toilet paper does.
Wipes clog homeowner and municipal sewer pipes, put stress on community wastewater collection and treatment equipment, and cause municipalities to spend thousands on premature equipment repair and replacement. The clogs and backups they cause may result in expensive plumbing bills for your home or increased wastewater fees.
Wipes snag on any imperfection in sewer pipes, catch passing debris and grease, and create a “ball” that will grow to plug the pipe. They also get drawn into sewer-line and wastewater treatment plant pumps and clog and damage them. Municipalities must manually clear out pumps or remove clogs.
This video courtesy of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency shows how wipes don't break down as toilet paper does.
Can the F.O.G. (Fats, Oils, Grease)
Grease is the number one culprit of sewer pipe overflows and backups. Sewer overflows and backups can cause health hazards, harm the environment and damage your home. Grease gets into the sewer from household drains and poorly maintained grease interceptors at restaurants or other businesses.
Be sure to properly dispose of cooking grease, by pouring fats and oils from turkey, bacon, etc. into an empty can and throwing the can away. Please do not pour oil and grease down drains or toilets.
Grease-clogged Pipe (photo courtesy Arlington County DES)
It’s okay to pour grease down the drain if I run hot water with it.
Wrong! This only moves the grease further down the sewer line. Eventually the water will cool and the grease will begin to solidify and coat the pipes.
It’s okay to pour liquid oils down the drain.
Wong! Liquid cooking oils float on water and easily adhere to sewer pipes. The oily film can collect food particles and other solids that will create a blockage.
As long as I can use the garbage disposal it’s okay to put fat, oil, and grease down the drain.
Wong! Using the garbage disposal only grinds particles up before passing them into the sewer pipes. It does not prevent build-up or blockages.
If I use dish soap while pouring the fat, oil, and grease down the drain it will break it up and allow it to pass through the pipes.
Wong! Dish soap only temporarily breaks up the fat, oil, and grease. Further down the sewer line all that grease, oil, and fat will begin to congeal and cause a blockage.
Do's and Don'ts
Pour oil and grease into an empty container, such as an old can, and allow it to cool completely. Once it has solidified dispose of it in the trash.
Wipe down pots, pans, and utensils with a disposal towel or plastic scraper prior to washing.
Scrape food scraps into the trash.
Use a strainer in the sink to collect excess food particles.
For oil, grease, and fat that do not solidify, mix with an absorbent material until all the moisture has been absorbed. Then dispose of it in the trash.
Do not use a garbage disposal. Grinding food up before rinsing it down the drain does not remove FOG; it just makes the pieces smaller.
Do not pour cooking oil, pan drippings, grease, salad dressings, or sauces down the sink.
Do not 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.