ST. LOUIS ( -- Plumbers and utility companies say with the shortage of toilet paper at stores, it’s tempting people to flush items like paper towels and napkins down the drain.

Since the coronavirus chaos caused thousands to empty shelves of toilet paper from retail stores, officials with the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) say they’re starting to see a slight uptick in calls for service of toilet backups.

Sean Hadley, a spokesperson with MSD, said people are using alternatives as toilet paper supplies run low at stores.

“Generically water usage is on the rise, because people are forced to stay at home, now we’re finding alternative measures to flush down the toilet because people are running out of toilet paper,” said Hadley. 

The Illinois Commerce Commission issued a warning Wednesday to Illinois residents to not flush items like:

  • Baby wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet seat covers
  • Napkins
  • Diapers

“It could cost the homeowner; we’re talking thousands of dollars here,” Hadley said.

MSD says in most cases it would be at the homeowner’s expense to repair.

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