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How a toilet paper shortage can really cost you

Struggling with a lack of toilet paper after hoards of panic-shoppers stripped your local supermarket shelves bare? You might be tempted to reach for an alternative. 

Sadly you’re not alone and while the shortages continue around the country, many households will be looking to other methods to keep their derrières clean following a visit to the lavatory.

We’ve spoken to plumber Chris, from CJ Mifsud Services, operating on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and surrounds, who says using anything other than toilet paper will cause an issue.

Can I use tissues, wipes or paper towel instead of toilet paper?

Sadly, not if you can avoid it.

The reason? Toilet paper is designed to break down once it’s flushed, explains Chris.

Toilet paper has been in high demand since before the pandemic was announced in Australia. Picture: Getty

“Anything else won’t break down and will get snagged on root if there’s one somewhere along the pipe, which is very common.”

“Paper towels and larger tissues are too big, compared to a few sheets of toilet paper, and can cause the pipe to get blocked.”

Chris also advises to never use wipes as he’s yet to see any that are truly biodegradable, despite what they say on the packets.

“A standard callout fee is around $385 per hour,” says Chris, “which is normally plenty of time to unblock a pipe blockage”.

Virus home hacks to help keep you safe

If you have no other choice then you can look to tissues, but don’t go for the thicker, more absorbent ones, Chris advises.

Opt for thinner, smaller tissues that are a similar thickness to toilet paper as this will break down better once it’s flushed.

If you’re not able to access either, then Chris recommends hopping straight into the shower after visiting the loo.

Can I use a bidet?

Are you the proud owner of a bidet? Good for you! Bidets and handheld shower devices are fine, however, they are required to have an approved back-flow device that stops any contamination.

If you call a plumber and they see an unapproved device, then the law states these need to be removed as they could put the safety of a city’s drinking water at risk.

Bidets, as long as they’re installed by a professional, are fine to use. Picture:

What else can’t I flush?

Chris, who has been a plumber for around 30 years, has seen a lot when it comes to what people flush.

“We’ve had a lot of issues over the years where people flush wipes, paper towels and pads or tampons down the toilet and it’s never good.”

So to be safe, try to keep it to loo paper only, where you can.


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