Wet wipes may feel nice on your little b-hole, but they are plugging the city’s sewers. The Times dives deep (ugh) on how the allegedly flushable wipes, which have increased drastically in popularity in the past few years, are wreaking havoc on sewage treatment facilities.

“The city has spent more than $18 million in the past five years on wipe-related equipment problems,” writes the Times’ Matt Flegenheimer. That’s a disturbingly large amount of money to spend extracting asswipes from crap-crunchers.

Flegenheimer’s description of the scene in the Newtown Creek treatment plant is vivid and disgusting:

Removal is an unpleasant task. The dank clusters, graying and impenetrable, gain mass like demon snowballs as they travel. Pumps clog. Gears falter. Then, there is the final blow, wrought by an intake of sewage that overwhelmed a portion of a north Brooklyn treatment plant.

“Odor control,” a sign there reads. But on a recent afternoon, the second word had disappeared behind a wayward splotch: It was a used wipe, etched with a heavenly cloud design.

The wipes do not disintegrate the way toilet paper does. Instead, they form fibrous clumps that cause blockages and literally gum up the works. Wet wipes have been responsible for sewer problems all over the United States and overseas, like the infamous “fatberg” in London.

A bill was proposed in the City Council last month that would reform advertising for wet wipes. It wouldn’t ban them, but would prohibit companies from labeling non-degradable wipes as “flushable.”

In the meantime, baby wipe users should suck it up and wipe with regular old TP. It’s not as luxurious, but ultimately way less disgusting.

(Photo: dirtyboxface)