TOILET paper alternatives could become "hugely damaging"if not handled properly according to new warnings.

The water provider has urged its customers not to flush wet wipes or kitchen roll down their toilets if they are affected by a toilet paper shortage during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The company made the warning amid reports of shortages of toilet paper in shops, which may lead to higher sales of non-flushable alternatives, like wet wipes or kitchen roll.

Steve Wilson, Welsh Water’s managing director of wastewater, said: “While we encourage everyone to practice good hygiene to protect against Coronavirus, wet wipes and kitchen roll can be hugely damaging to our sewers.

“Throwing these items away in the bin instead of flushing them will reduce the number of blockages and the risk of flooding to homes, businesses and the environment during what is likely to be a difficult time for many people.

“It’s too early to say what impact the outbreak has had on our sewers but, as always, we’d urge everyone to only flush the '3Ps '– pee, poo and paper – to help avoid problems.”

Wet wipes are the major cause of sewer blockages in the UK – with wipes found in an estimated 93 percent of blockages - about 28,000 - every year.

Wipes, along with other items like nappies and sanitary products, don’t break down in pipes like toilet paper and can combine with fats, oils and grease to create blockages which are difficult to clear and can cause raw sewage to build up and flood homes, businesses and the environment.

The blockages cost the company £7 million to tackle, and amount to around 2,000 incidents every month.