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Officials warn flushing disinfectant wipes are clogging pumps

The King County Wastewater Treatment center said they’re noticing a slight increase in the number of wipes coming through during this time of social distancing.

SEATTLE — Officials are asking you to help keep troublesome wipes out of the sewer system. So-called ‘flushable’ wipes are not so flushable, said Robert Waddle, operations manager for King Co. Wastewater Treatment.

“It’s flushable because you can flush it down the water, but it doesn’t dissolve like a piece of toilet tissue does,” he said.

Those wipes, whether it be baby wipes or popular sanitizer wipes, then cause problems down the line. Masses of them clog pumps, which means maintenance crews need to open them up for repairs.

King County shared an image of a dumpster full of debris and wipes – just a fraction of what they pull out of the system in a day. They ask you only flush toilet paper – not other items.

Waddle said they’re noticing a slight increase in the number of wipes coming through during this time of social distancing.

He also warns keeping them out of the sewer could protect your homes’ plumbing too. Many get clogged in individual pipes, forcing a visit from a plumber.

A good general rule: if the wipe comes packed in some sort of solution, throw it in the trash when you’re done.

“Anything that’s packed in essentially water, even disinfectant wipes, water-based solution with alcohol or whatever in it,” said Waddle.