Port Townsend Public Works has asked it citizens to not flush disinfectant wipes down the toilet even if the packagin says they’re flushable. These wipes do not disintegrate like toilet paper, but rather become sticky strands that collect and can cause blockages in the sewer. (City of Port Townsend)

Port Townsend Public Works has asked it citizens to not flush disinfectant wipes down the toilet even if the packagin says they’re flushable. These wipes do not disintegrate like toilet paper, but rather become sticky strands that collect and can cause blockages in the sewer. (City of Port Townsend)

‘Flushable’ wipes clog sewer pipes, officials say

PORT TOWNSEND — So-called flushable wipes are actually not flushable and can clog sewer pipes and pumps, the city of Port Townsend said in a press release.

Disinfection products help prevent the spread of COVID-19. All such wipes, even those that claim to be flushable, should be thrown into the trash rather than down the toilet, the city’s Public Works Department said.

“Wipes and other cleaning products cause sewer blockages, backups, overflows, and can damage pumps and other critical infrastructure,” the release said.

“City crews are now needing to inspect key areas where sewer pipes are susceptible to clogging from such items three times a week.”

The city’s Public Works Department is working with a limited staff, operating on a rotating schedule.

“Our crews have been doing extra patrols of the problem areas of our sewer system because of disinfection wipes being flushed,” said Steve King, the new Public Works director.

“We haven’t had any backups but we’re running now three times a week to check those locations to try and prevent problems.”

Seattle Public Utilities shared a video that demonstrates how poorly disinfectant wipes disintegrate in the sewer system compared to toilet paper.

The city of Poulsbo shared on its Facebook page a photo of one of its public works employees, Tom Barnes, cleaning out “flushable” wipes and other debris from the city sewer.

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