No toilet paper? We sympathize. But please, do not throw your substitutes in the toilet, says the Alexandria Lake Area Sanitary District, which extracted a wad of rags clogging a sewer pipe on Tuesday.

With grocery store shelves empty and favorite brands unavailable even online, people are turning to baby wipes, Kleenex, paper towels and even rags as replacements. These items belong in the garbage, not down a sewer pipe, because they don't dissolve like toilet paper is designed to do.

Some experts have recommended keeping a bottle of water on hand to mimic a bidet, squirting water at your bottom to cleanse it, then patting it dry with a washable rag.

Items not to flush:

  • Paper towels
  • Napkins
  • Kleenex and other tissues
  • Wet wipes/baby wipes (even those labeled as “flushable” wipes)
  • Diapers
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Gauze/Band-Aids