Paper Towels

Paper Towels are designed to not break apart and should not be flushed.

Paper Towels Belong in the Trash

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Paper towels may be similar to toilet paper, but do not make the mistake of flushing paper towels down the toilet. Although paper towels are made of paper that will eventually dissolve in water, this paper is made of higher quality wood pulp, which allows for durability. Paper towels are designed to be absorbent and strong, and don't dissolve quickly - which will result clogging of pipes. They are not intended to be flushed down the toilet. Throw used paper towels in the trash – or switch to cloth, which can be washed and reused.

Toilets are not designed to handle materials other than toilet paper and human waste. Household items, such as wipes, cleaning cloths, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, and personal care products may lead to a clog in the toilet that a plunger might not be able to fix. Plumbing problems are often caused by flushing material that are not flushable. Many household products do not break down like toilet paper. Toilet paper is designed to start breaking apart as soon as it contacts water, making it less of an obstruction to toilets and the pipes below.

Paper Towels Belong in the Trash

Won't a paper towel break down?

Eventually, but not in the amount of time and distance traveled to get to the water treatment facility.

Paper towels are designed to be strong when wet, if they weren't then they wouldn't be very good at helping you clean. Items that don't break down into small pieces when placed in water do not belong in your drains.

Paper towels will twist and clump up with other items in the sewer system to create a large blockage that can damage pumps and requires constant clean-out.

Here is a great video demonstrating how each common household item either does or doesn't break down when flushed.

How big of a deal is it?

One paper towel flushed by one person in itself may seem insignificant, but there are around 7 million people in North Texas, that is a lot of potential clogs. If everyone thinks it is just them, then all of a sudden you have hundreds of thousands of paper towels and wipes being flushed into a system that wasn't designed to take those items.

Our North Texas water districts are reporting huge clumps of wipes, paper towels, tampons, and other items causing problems daily. This gets expensive and the cost gets passed on to residents through their water bill.

Paper Towel Alternatives

Rather than use a paper towel or paper napkin, use a wash cloth, dish rag, or linen napkin. These are reusable and function better than their paper counterparts. They will also save you money in the long run.

When you do use paper towels, place them in the trash when you are done with them.

Note: we do recommend using paper towels to wipe greasy pots, pans, and plates. You would not want to use a regular towel for this because it will eventually go in the wash. We want to keep grease out of our drains too.

How can you prevent sewer back ups?

Easy steps to Defend Your Drains

By practicing these three simple actions, you can prevent grease clogs and help protect our water quality.

1. Wipe pans and plates into the trash before washing.

Use a paper towel to wipe greasy pots, pans, and plates before placing them in the dish washer or washing them in the sink. When you do hand wash greasy kitchen ware, be sure to use COLD water so that even the small amounts of fats, oils, or grease don't get a chance to cling to pipes before hardening.

2. Take advantage of local drop-off facilities

You can collect your used cooking oil in a sealable container with a screw top lid and then take it to one of the regional drop-off locations so we can collect and recycle the used cooking oil.

It's a win-win!

3. Remember the 3 Ps.

The toilet should only be used for three things; Pee, Poop, and toilet Paper.

Wipes - even "flushable" wipes - belong in the trash and should not be flushed down your toilet.

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