Despite toilet paper shortage, experts warn not to flush alternatives

Published: Mar. 20, 2020 at 7:49 AM CDT
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Toilet paper continues to be a hot commodity on shopping lists.

Stocking up on toilet paper has led to a significant increase in panic-buying during the Coronavirus outbreak. However, experts say resorting to other materials isn't a good idea.

The worry and uncertainty of the COVID-19 quarantine led many people to buy and stack up on lots of toilet paper. Numerous stores throughout the Ozarks have had trouble keeping up with the demand, and toilet tissue shelves are empty.

Springfield Environmental Services regularly campaign to remind the community to only flush toilet paper.

Clean Water Services Superintendent Mike DeLong said it's critical, especially now more than ever, to watch what you flush.

DeLong said in desperate times, people are more likely to use other items like tissues, baby wipes, flushable wipes, or even paper towels.

However, using different materials and flushing them can cause severe clogging and damage to one's plumbing. It can also create unwanted and messy build-up.

"Sewage comes out of the manhole and onto the ground or pavement," explained DeLong. "Around that manhole, people can come in direct contact with that sewage."

DeLong said sewage problems are fixable. Unfortunately, it's always after the issue, and after the damage is done. He said it could be avoided by remembering only to flush toilet paper.

The design of toilet paper can disintegrate quickly in water. DeLong said other materials like paper towels, napkins, or tissue should never be used as an alternative if you plan on flushing it.

Flushable wipes are not an exception. While they can flush down the drain, they are not biodegradable and do not dissolve. DeLong said avoiding the use of flushable wipes is critical.

"They can become clogged either in the person's own sewer lateral or in our sewer main, which can cause backup and the sewer to overflow out of manholes," explained DeLong.

DeLong said, always remember if it doesn't come out of you, and it's not TP; you shouldn't flush it.