This is what happens after you flush wipes down the toilet

“Flushable wipes” are not flushable, clogging up sewage pipes

This is what happens after you flush wipes down the toilet

SAN ANTONIO – Now that toilet paper is hard to find during the pandemic, more people are turning to alternative options.

San Antonio Water System staff knows this because they are having to fix more clogged pipes.

“A flushable wipe is an oxymoron. There’s no such thing. Unfortunately manufacturers are able to make the claim,” said SAWS Communications Manager Anne Hayden.

Hayden said the burden to educate communities across the nation falls on utility companies, trying to stop buildups and sewage spills.

She said toilet paper dissolves in sewage pipes but tissues, paper towels, and wipes do not.

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This is what happens to wipes after flushing them down the toilet.

Hayden says anything other than toilet paper should be thrown in the trash.

“Some people assume it breaks up and goes away,” Hayden said. “What happens with the wipes is, it gets caught on a rough part of the pipe, or on a branch, and then other wipes start catching on it. Then grease combines with it and that’s how you get these huge pieces that are like concrete. If that blocks your whole sewer line, you have a big problem.”

With sewage emergencies come field crews and SAWS emergency operations center teams that work around the clock to keep the pipes clear.

“It’s the whole thing about community. We are all truly connected and we have folks in a fairly dangerous time to be in public, they’re out dealing with wastewater,” Hayden said.

So throwing wipes in a bathroom trash can isn’t just to keep your home safe from leaks. It’s also to keep your fellow community members safe during a deadly pandemic.

Hayden said flushed bathroom wipes have become a huge issue in the past few years in cities all over the nation.

SAWS crews do preventative pipe clearing every day, but again, the only way to fully prevent backups is by throwing those wipes in the trash.

About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.