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The shelves are bare. Toilet paper has become rare. As people desperately reach for alternatives, it’s vital to know what can and can’t be flushed. 

You might not realise it, but what you flush down your toilet can have a huge impact on your home’s pipes and throughout the sewerage system. And if you have a pressure sewer system, it will happen very quickly. It might seem like an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ situation, but unfortunately that is not the case. South East Water has advised that “solid items in the drain can cause really bad blockages, harm the environment and the health of our pipe workers. It can also mean expensive repair costs for you to fix your damaged pipes and pressure sewer pumps”. 

On no account should you flush paper towels, wipes, newspaper, any printable paper, or paper serviettes. All of these ‘alternatives’ could cause a sewer blockage. It’s misleading that wipes labelled ‘flushable’ are actually flushable. Whether they are make-up wipes or baby wipes, these so-called ‘flushable’ wipes are actually causing plenty of blockages and damage to our sewerage system and pump stations, according to SEW. You must place all wipes in the bin, not in your toilet, or you could be receiving paper of another kind in the form of a hefty invoice after your plumber has fixed your blockage. 

If none of your friends or family can spare a square and you’ve been reduced to using substitutes like paper towels – ouch – pop them in the bin after use for the sake of our sewerage systems and to avoid an expensive visit by the plumber.

And while we’re on the subject, SEW also reminds us that items such as tampons and sanitary pads, cotton buds, nappies and condoms should also never be flushed. These items do not break down in the sewer and can also cause blockages, no matter how big or small they are. 

All in all it’s a pretty crappy situation but one we hope will be rectified soon. 

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