Bin the Wipe - icon logo - hand dropping wipe in bin

Wet wipes are the biggest causes of blockages and sewer flooding.

We really need your help. You can make a massive difference by making one easy change: Bin the Wipe. Flushed wipes contribute to more than 60% of sewer blockages in the North East: it’s a huge issue.

Why should I Bin the Wipe?

Flushing wipes down the toilet can cause huge problems inside customers’ homes, in our communities and our environment.


Many wipes are made from plastic, which means they don’t break down in water like toilet roll. Our toilets and sewer pipes are not designed for wipes. Even if the wipes aren’t in your toilet bowl, they might get stuck in the pipes near your home, or someone else’s.


Bin the Wipe - icon logo - hand dropping wipe in bin


Period products also contain a lot of plastic and should not be flushed. Switching to plastic free or reusable products is far better for the planet. 


Find out about plastic free period products (opens new window).


We're working hard to raise awareness of these issues, so that you know about the problems wet wipes can cause.


What can happen if there’s a blockage in the sewers?

When sewage can’t flow down the sewer pipes because of a blockage, it has to go somewhere else. This could be your street, garden or even back into your home through the toilet, or drains in your bath, sink and shower, flooding your bathroom and home.


The blockage below was cleared in an area of Darlington, one of our hotspots for flooding caused by wipes. Our team cleared the blockage just in time before this customer experienced an external flood around their property. Move the <> icon on the image, to the left, to see the blockage cleared.

Things we get asked . . .

No. It really is as simple as that.
We, and the rest of the water industry, are trying to encourage manufacturers to stop using the term, but such processes take time, which is why we ask people to not flush any wipes. That can be done now.


The testing that manufacturers carry out, in order to ‘prove’ flushability, doesn’t accurately reflect the reality the conditions within a drainage system and therefore what happens to a wipe when it’s flushed.

The mild turbulence as they’re washed through the u-bend really does very little, and certainly doesn’t break them up and stop them from settling or snagging in sewers and contributing to blockages.

Yes, it can.


Remember that your sewer pipe will meet up with those of your neighbours . . . 

. . . then the rest of the street . . .

. . . then other streets close by . . . 

. . . and in some cases large sections of your village or town, if not the whole area, before reaching a treatment works.

So, your 'one little wipe' can meet up with the 'one little wipes' of thousands of other people along the way (plus lots of other things that get wrongly flushed).

That means it could end up in a blockage near your home, or further away, and, while you may never know about it, it really could be horrific for someone.

A wipe can settle or snag in any sized pipe.


Plus, we have 18,000 miles of sewer in the North East. While we carry out upgrades and maintenance across our network, replacing it all would mean decades of disruption and be very expensive – with our customers inevitably seeing bills rise.

Whereas, not flushing wipes is a free, instant change that we can all make to achieve the same result.

Yes. We don’t want to, but we can, and we have.


What we really want, though, is for customers to hear our Bin The Wipe message and make the change before it ever comes to that.


However, when people continue to repeatedly flush wipes when we have asked them not to, and explained the good they can do by not using their toilet as a bin, we can:

  • Recharge the cost of clearing blockages
  • Prosecute them under the Water Industry Act 1991, which is the law that makes it illegal to put anything into the sewer that can impede the flow of the waste that should be in there.
It sounds like you’ve been very lucky.


But maybe other people haven’t been so lucky.

Your wipes may have contributed to a blockage elsewhere in the network that has backed up into someone else’s home.

Or it may have caused a surcharge into the environment.

Imagine if a friend or relative experienced sewage flooding into their home because of your flushing habits.

Time to Bin The Wipe?

People use wipes for all sorts of things.


They’re so handy, we know it would be a waste of time asking people not to use them, which is why, when we say 'Bin The Wipe', we mean put them in the bin, not stop using them.

However, most wipes contain plastics, so we welcome when customers choose to replace them with products that are better for the environment, such as flannels.

One of our apprentices created a series of videos, trying out some alternatives that can be used for make-up removal.


Watch our videos of alternatives for make-up removal (opens in new window).

It’s true that the maintenance of sewers is part of the service we provide that is paid for by customers’ bills.


However, flushing wipes is a misuse of the sewer network, which is there to take toilet paper, pee and poo. Putting items in the sewer that can cause blockages is illegal under the Water Industry Act 1991.

How you can help

You can help us with the fight against wipes and spread the word to Bin the Wipe. Download our social media banners to use on your own Facebook, X and Instagram page, or why not download our poster to display in your window?

#BinTheWipe - videos

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