Never flush wet wipes down your loo

Toilet roll

In Consumer Advice

With people stockpiling toilet paper in response to the Coronavirus and a subsequent shortage on supermarket shelves, there will inevitably be those who are left without something that we have come to assume will be there whenever it is required. As a consequence, it will be tempting to reach for the wet wipes, paper kitchen towel or cotton wool in desperation, but it is important to be aware that these items should never be flushed down the toilet.

Tim Sainty, Acting-CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), said, “When it comes to what you can flush, we commonly talk about the three P’s - pee, poo and (toilet) paper. These are the only things that should be flushed down the toilet. This is what your plumbing and sewerage systems were designed for. The pipes are relatively small and easily blocked and there really isn’t much room for anything else to pass through.”

This means that everything else should go in the bin, and especially includes:

  • Any type of disposable wipe – baby wipes, make-up wipes, antibacterial cleaning wipes etc, even if it says it is flushable.
  • Paper kitchen roll, paper hand towels or any other type of paper product that is not toilet roll.
  • Any type of cotton wool product, including cotton wool pads.
  • Sanitary items such as sanitary towels and tampons, including any of the packaging they are supplied with. This also includes incontinence pads and liners.
  • Nappies.

Tim continued, “The Coronavirus pandemic means we are in an unprecedented situation. If your plumbing system does become blocked and you need to call out a professional plumber, it is vital you are honest about your situation. This will both protect your engineer and any vulnerable customers they may also be visiting. If you are self isolating, displaying symptoms of COVID-19, or we reach the point where the country is on lock down, your local plumbing and drainage professional may not be able to help you. For your own safety and wellbeing, prevention is therefore much better than cure.“

“Blocked toilets are deeply unpleasant and a potential health hazard. If you do get caught short and use something other than toilet roll, always bin it, never flush it. If you do run out of supplies, then washing with water after toileting (much in the style of the bidet) is an alternative to wiping.”

“Away from the home, over half of sewer flooding is caused by blockages in sewers and drains, directly leading to pollution and exposure to bacteria that can cause serious life-limiting health conditions. At a time when the Coronavirus is said to be specifically difficult for people with underlying health conditions, this really is an unnecessary and avoidable risk.”

If you do need a professional plumber, you can find one online via our find a plumber online tool.