Toilet paper can be quite a struggle for some people, with all that chafing, ripping and potential for starting household wars. A few toilet paper companies decided to make a buck or two off those persons with more delicate posteriors by producing pre-moistened "flushable" bathroom wipes; but alas, it appears these wipes are clogging up the sewers for the rest of us, presumably creating the potential for some Ghostbusters-esque gunk geysers in the future.
A number of sewage systems in the country have been experiencing some unpleasant blockage problems over the past few years, including one in Bemus Point in western New York, and they believe these so-called flushable wipes are to blame. Officials say they've spent millions on the cleanup, and they've even set up traps so they can pinpoint which households have the poopiest, wipe-stuffed pipes. And they weren't shy about calling the cloggers out: "We could walk right up, knock on the door and say, 'Listen, this problem is coming right from your house," Tom Walsh, who works with the South & Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer Districts, told the Associated Press. Delicate butts in Bemus Point, you've been warned—they're coming for you.
Companies like Cottonelle have been making billions of dollars off these wipes for the past few years now, and say sales have increased nearly 5 percent a year since 2007. They're adamant that their products aren't the real clogging culprits, and are going to some considerable lengths to prove it. "My team regularly goes 'sewer diving' to analyze what's causing problems," Trina McCormick, a senior manager at Kimberly-Clarke, Cottonelle's parent company, said. "We've seen the majority, 90 percent in fact, are items that are not supposed to be flushed, like paper towels, feminine products or baby wipes." (P.S.: They're hiring!)
But sewage experts aren't buying it, and say these wipes are also causing problems in places like Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, Vancouver, Washington and Orange County, Calif. Sanitation departments are urging people to keep wipes out of the toilet, no matter what the labels may profess. And please, follow the golden rule: "Only flush pee, poop and toilet paper," Nicholas Arhonte, the director of facilities support services in Orange County, Calif., told the Associated Press. Or you could just stick with toilet paper like a regular person.