Don't flush paper towels, flushable wipes down the toilet, public works officials urge

A clump of flushable wipes caused a sewage backup in Hopkins in 2017. ( City of Hopkins )

Out of toilet paper and turning to alternate products in the bathroom? Public works leaders say think before you flush.

With a lack of toilet paper on grocery store shelves amid the coronavirus pandemic, some people have turned to products like flushable wipes or paper towels. These items, however, do not break down as easily and can cause blockage issues in the sewer systems, according to the City of St. Paul Public Works Department.

While wipes may be branded as "flushable," they can still create problems down the drain. In 2017, utilities workers in Hopkins had to dislodge a clump of diapers, rags and flushable wipes after it caused a sewage backup.

Public works officials say instead of flushing the product, just throw it out.