Stop Flushing Flushable Wipes

Photo by Elle Hughes from Pexels

Source: City of Santa Barbara

The City of Santa Barbara urges the community to throw wipes into the trash rather than flushing them down the toilet. City Wastewater staff has seen a substantial increase in the number of wipes and paper towels since the COVID-19 pandemic began. These products do not break down and often get stuck in pipes which increases the risk of private sewer spills. In fact, wipes recently caused a costly blockage at a multi-unit housing property on the mesa, resulting in a walking path closure and community exposure to raw wastewater.  In addition to the environmental impact, the costs to the property owner to repair the blockage can easily run thousands of dollars.

Flushing wipes, paper towels, or similar items can cause costly damage to private plumbing and the City’s sewer system. Even wipes that are labeled as “flushable” and “septic–safe” do not degrade in the sewer system, and, when mixed with fats, oils, and grease, can cause blockage in pipes that may result in sewer spills.

The average recovery charge added to a property owner’s utility bill for the City to respond to and contain a private sewage spill is $540. This price does not include the cost for cleanup or the cost to repair damaged private plumbing- those prices vary depending on the plumber and severity of the issue.

Please remember, wipes don’t belong in pipes. Your toilet is a “human-waste-and-toilet-paper-only-zone.” Community members can protect their private plumbing and the City’s infrastructure by only flushing the 3 Ps: pee, poo, and paper.

Preventing sewer spills protects the health and safety of the public and the environment. For more information on what to flush, visit the City’s website at


Written by Anonymous

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  1. Facial tissue (“Kleenex”) as well; do not flush. We leaned the hard way a few years ago NOT to flush any food down…..especially banana peels. Our garbage disposal was malfunctioning, and thought that the peels were “organic” and would easily break apart, $400 dollars later I realized I might as well have been flushing whole coconuts! Live and learn I guess (LOL!!!).

  2. Even if it says they are flushable they usually are not. I put mine in a one gallon disposable container when it’s filled up I add hot water and alittle bleach soak it a few days. Then I drain it dry it out and toss…

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