People have been urged not to put wet wipes, tampons and other 'unflushables' down their toilets after a huge blockage flooded a home in Wimbledon

Engineers from Thames Water pulled around a tonne of the material, known as “rag”, out of a sewer in Wimbledon after it had caused raw sewage to spill out into a home.

The disgusting mass, which was in a private pipe, took more than six hours to clear and measured almost two metres long and half a metre wide.

Engineer Gary Norman, who helped clear the blockage, said: “In the 30 years I’ve been clearing drains I’ve never seen so much in a customer’s pipe.

Wimbledon Times:

“It took us nearly all day to clear, using rods, pressure jets and pretty much every bit of kit we had on board. When it was out it was longer than me lying down and twice as high.

“We deal with this every day so we’re urging everyone not to put wet wipes down their toilets, to make our lives and theirs easier.”

'Unflushables', which also include nappies, condoms and sanitary items, don’t break down in pipes and can combine with fats, oils and grease to create fatbergs: huge, solid masses which are difficult to clear and can cause raw sewage to build up and flood homes, businesses and the environment.

Thames Water spends £18 million every year clearing 75,000 blockages from its sewers, unclogging five house blockages and removing 30 tonnes of material from just one of its sewage treatment works every day.

Wimbledon Times:

Matt Rimmer, Thames Water’s head of waste networks, said: “Sewer blockages caused by unflushable items being put down toilets and sinks pose a massive problem, risking raw sewage backing up in to homes or businesses and costing millions of pounds to clear.

“They can cause massive and disgusting fatbergs that take a great deal of effort and teamwork to clear and get the sewer working well again.

“We’d urge everyone to help by only flushing the 3Ps – pee, poo and paper – as well as disposing of fat and oils in the bin, not the sink.”