Although many brands of disposable wipes are labeled "flushable," don't flush them! The clogs and backups they cause may result in expensive plumbing bills for your home, or increased wastewater fees from your city.
Disposable wipes — used for changing diapers, personal hygiene, housecleaning, and more — cause major problems when flushed down toilets. Because they don’t break down the way toilet paper does, these wipes clog homeowner and municipal sewer pipes, put stress on community wastewater collection and treatment equipment, and cause cities to spend thousands on premature equipment repair and replacement.
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.
The MPCA regulates many aspects of wastewater collection and treatment in Minnesota. Dealing with wipes-related problems has absorbed more and more city resources as wipes use increases, and clogs and equipment problems proliferate. The resources wastewater facilities expend on wipes could be better spent on systems to improve water quality. Put your wipes in the trash — it matters more than you realize!
In response to communities seeking help with the problem of wipes clogging the pipes, the MPCA has taken the following action:
- Proposed changes to labeling for disposable wipes: Proposal: Change labels on disposable wipes: Do Not Flush (leg-sy16-04)
- Developed a webpage on wipes for consumers: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/wipes
- Developed a communications toolkit for communities: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/wipestoolkit