Brits Are Using Wet Wipes And Blocking Sewers Due To Toilet Roll Shortages

Ben PulsfordBen Pulsford in News, UK, World
Published 22.03.20

Brits are using wet wipes and blocking sewers due to toilet roll shortages caused by coronavirus panic buying

We seriously need to start thinking before we act.

(WARNING: You might want to read this one on an empty stomach).

A shopper walks past empty toilet roll shelves amidst the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, in Manchester.


The nationwide shortage of toilet rolls – caused by irresponsible coronavirus ‘panic buying’ – has resulted in many of us turning to toilet roll alternatives; primarily, wet wipes.

Now, that would be fine if people were jut chucking the wipes in the bin after use, but from the looks of these images released by Northumbrian Water, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

It appears that far too many of us are flushing huge amounts of wet wipes down the loo, and blocking countless sewers, as a result.

Water company Northumbrian Water has shared a couple of downright vile pictures showing what happens to wet wipes when they’re flushed.


The company, which serves Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham and parts of North Yorkshire, recently took to Facebook to remind all of us about its ‘Bin The Wipe’ campaign.

Northumbrian Water wrote:

“We understand anyone affected by the shortage of toilet paper in shelves of shops is only improvising, but must warn that wrongful flushing can have devastating consequences!

“These include:

“Homes being flooded with toilet waste (…this isn’t pleasant at any time but especially now, if you need to self-isolate with #covid19uk).


“Rivers and seas being polluted with sewage, potentially harming and destroying innocent wildlife!

“Not only blocking our sewage network of pumps and pipes, but householders’ plumbing too, causing avoidable plumber callout charges!

“Please make one simple change and put toilet paper alternatives in the bin. Toilets are NOT a bin and sewers are not designed for toilet paper alternatives!”

The images are undeniably grim, but I’m happy to report they are being widely spread across social media and various news sites, because this behaviour need to curve immediately. The last thing we f*cking need right now – while we’re all condemned to four walls – is all our plumbing getting backed-up because a few individuals panicked and made idiotic choices.


Just bin it.

It’s as simple as that. Let’s not turn this sh*tter of a situation into a literal sh*tter of a situation.


Now more than ever, we need to think before we act

Thinking before we take action; it’s one of the first things we are taught to do as young conscientious beings and yet, over the last two weeks it seems a huge percentage of the British public (in fact, make that the global population) has turned utterly primal.

Anxiety is taking control of so many of us right now – understandably, so. But this anxiety desperately needs managing and looking after, otherwise this widespread selfish behaviour isn’t going to curve anytime soon – and as the coronavirus situation worsens (which it inevitably will in the short-term), so too will this worrying behaviour. From panic buying food and toilet roll, to chucking wipes down the loo; these actions are not being thought through and are hurting people.


If we all start listening to the advice we’re being given and start actually thinking before we irrationally act, this could all become a distance unpleasant memory in no time. But this behaviour needs to change right now.

Stay at home, listen to advice and think – about yourself and others – before you act. 

Images via Northumbrian Water, Twitter and Getty