Disposable wipes are a common item in our households, used for personal hygiene, changing diapers, and cleaning up around the house. Although some wipes bill themselves as "flushable", wipes should never be flushed down the toilet. These products can snag on pipes and collect other debris, leading to clogs and expensive and messy repairs to both home and municipal sewer lines. Montgomery County estimates that it spends more than $750,000 a year to clear out clogged pipes, pumps, and valves caused by disposable wipes. Clogged lines due to wipes can also cause sanitary sewer overflows. Help keep costs down and waterways clean by disposing of wipes in the trash and not the toilet.
The Tricky Truth About Drain Cleaners
Products advertised to dissolve clogs are usually not reliable as a long-term solution to drain health. These products contain acidic or alkaline chemicals that "melt" clogs due to hair, grease, and fat. In order to keep these products safe for consumers, common drain cleaners are highly diluted and ineffective. They can serve to temporarily dislodge a clog. However, they could push the clog further into the pipe, which can cause more problems. Industrial strength products can be corrosive to pipes and can cause burns to plumbing professionals if the product doesn't work. It is never a good idea to use drain cleaning products in plumbing pipes that discharge into a septic system as they can kill the beneficial bacteria and enzymes in the septic tank.
The best solution for clogged drains is prevention. Install screens over bathtub and shower drains to catch hair and debris, and never pour grease or cooking oil down the sink.
Plastic Microbeads: From Scrub to Sea
Have you ever noticed small, plastic beads in your face wash, toothpaste, or hand soap? Those are called microbeads. Some face washes can contain up to 330,000 plastic microbeads in one container. So, what's the deal with microbeads? When they travel down your drain, they are not filtered out by regular wastewater treatment facilities.
So, when choosing your next face wash, toothpaste, or hand soap, please consider buying one without microbeads.
Don't Flush Medications
There are several programs that allow anyone to properly dispose of expired or no-longer-needed medications. Help keep these medications out of our sewer and water systems by properly disposing of them.
Want to learn more about how to properly get rid of them? Many local law enforcement agencies also offer collection receptacles, sometimes called "drop-boxes," to assist consumers in safely disposing of their unused medicines. View more information.