Seemingly overnight, toilet paper went from a basic bathroom essential to a hot commodity. The shelves in local shops — and across the nation — went empty of toilet paper after more COVID-19 cases were revealed, including one in Kansas. When TP turned scarce, people all over started looking for adequate substitutes — ones that shouldn’t ever be flushed down a toilet.

Now the City of Junction City is asking residents to refrain from flushing anything that isn’t toilet paper.

People shouldn’t flush sanitation wipes — not even if the package bills them as flushable. Likewise, paper towels and facial tissues belong in the trash can, not the sewer system, because they can clog up local sewer lines.

So-called flushable wipes are not a new concern for wastewater facilities, according to City Manager Allen Dinkel, but there has been an increase in such items flowing through the system during the toilet paper shortage.

The City is working with Veolia North America, which operates and maintains the wastewater treatment plants, to inform people of the need to abstain from flushing things down their toilets that aren’t toilet paper.

Community members are asked to pay attention to what they use in the bathroom and what they choose to flush.

Just because something is marketed as flushable doesn’t mean it’s safe to flush. Such items can cause backups in the system and cause foreign materials to build up in the lines. They can glom onto buildups of grease in the system, creating blockages known as “fatbergs.”

Just as a reminder, items that should not be flushed include: paper towels, napkins, feminine hygiene products, wet wipes, baby wipes, and facial tissues.

Some do’s and don’ts of the bathroom include:

DO NOT flush wipes, gloves, towels or other trash down the toilet, even if they’re labeled flushable.

DO NOT pour grease down kitchen sinks or toilets. Instead, put grease in a sealed non-recyclable container and throw it out with regular garbage.

DO NOT use the sink as a toilet or the toilet as a garbage disposal. DO reduce and reuse by using compostable or reusable makeup applicators, like cotton balls, and cleaning supplies, like paper towels or rags.

DO toss dirty baby, makeup and cleaning wipes, tampons, sanitary pads and condoms in the trash.

DO recycle finished toilet rolls, cardboard packaging from toothpaste and brushes, and plastic packaging from shampoos and shower gels.

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