People Using Ripped T-Shirts As Toilet Paper May Have Caused A Clog In California’s Sewer System

Sewer technician wades through sewage
Jack Taylor / Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has led to thousands of consumers panic buying toilet paper in the event they’re stuck inside their homes for weeks at a time, leading to a massive shortage of bathroom tissue. With grocery stores rationing their stock and shelves stripped bare, many people have resorted to using other items as makeshift toilet paper.

USA Today is now reporting that residents in Redding, California, have started using shredded t-shirts as a replacement, which may have resulted in a sewage blockage. On Wednesday evening, one of Redding’s sewer lines backed up, and wastewater management had to leap into action to prevent spillage.

According to Ryan Bailey, the assistant director of public works, it was impossible to tell if it was just one person who caused the clog or many. When the wastewater crew arrived, they had to remove multiple shredded shirts from the sewage line. Officials handed out flyers in the residential area to warn people against repeating the same mistake in the future.

“Anything and everything is flushable, but it doesn’t mean that it’s OK to put it down the toilet,” said Bailey.

As the coronavirus continues to spread and employees are sent home, it will take longer for stores to get toilet paper in stock again. Even when it is in stock, it is likely to be purchased quickly by people who are running low. That means the continued usage of toilet paper replacements will persist indefinitely.

Officials across the country are asking people to think twice about what they put down their toilets to prevent potential clogging during this trying time.

On social media, many people have recommended that those without toilet paper invest in bidets if they have the available funds to do so.

Customers line up to shop at a Costco store
  Victor J. Blue / Getty Images

The article also quoted Ohio’s Department of Sanitary Engineering Director Stephen Renner, who issued a warning to residents low on toilet paper to be cautious about what they flush down their pipes. Paper towels, napkins, tissues, and even “flushable” wipes can all cause blockages.

“They are not flushable, and they are not biodegradable. They wreak havoc in our system…. Please don’t flush those down the toilet,” said Renner.

Officials have instructed people who don’t have toilet paper to throw replacement material into the trash can rather than flushing it to avoid future stoppage.

Something similar recently occurred in the U.K. with residents using alternative toilet paper items that came close to causing a “gridlock,” in the sewer systems.