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Plumbers: If you have to use an alternative to toilet paper, don't flush it down the toilet

While toilet paper has been hard to come by during the coronavirus pandemic, plumbers say any alternative should not be flushed down the toilet

BOISE, Idaho — During the coronavirus pandemic, toilet paper has quickly become a grocery item in high demand. Most supermarkets are in short supply or sold out.

"I'm a little baffled by it myself," said Bob Haycock, owner of Apple Plumbing. "This disease, as far as I know, doesn't cause us to go to the bathroom any more frequently."

Haycock has been in the plumbing business for a long time. He said he understands that during this unprecedented time people might have to wipe with something other than toilet paper.

However, Haycock says toilet paper is the only material meant to be flushed.

"Everything else is taking a risk on causing a backup in your sewer line or even damaging the city sewer system," Haycock said.

Materials like paper towels, tissues, and baby wipes, should never go down the toilet he explained.

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"Baby wipes should never be flushed down they are specifically meant to be very durable and not break down at all once they are in the sewer system," Haycock said. "Paper towels should definitely not be flushed down. They have plastic fibers woven into them, they are not supposed to tear or break down."

Haycock adds that not only can these materials wreak havoc on your plumbing at home, but they can damage the city's entire sewer treatment plant.

"The sewer treatment has pumps on it and the wipes are particularly damaging they can get caught up in the pumps and cause a lot of damage and maintenance," Haycock said.

So, if you have to use an alternative to toilet paper, Haycock says throw it in the trash, not down the toilet.

Gretchen Parsons is an anchor, reporter and producer at KTVB since 2016. You can follow her on Instagram @gretchenparsonsKTVB or  @gretchenKTVB on Twitter.

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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