Do Not Flush the Wipes

Flushable toilet wipes are causing drainpipe problems for household and municipal sewer systems

Many disposable wipes advertise that they are flushable. While flushable toilet wipes are flushable in that you can get them down the drain when you pull the lever, you can do the same with a small washcloth or sanitary napkin. They will also clog up your plumbing system just as effectively.

If they do happen to get past your household plumbing, they then create problems for main sewer drains and your local sewer treatment plant. Household cleaning wipes and regular baby wipes also cause major problems to these systems. So much of a problem that the city of Raleigh, North Carolina has made it illegal to flush the wipes.

Online plumbing industry chat rooms have described the clogs formed by these flushable products as “softballs” and extracting them from drainpipes can be very costly due to the extra time involved. Manufacturers of the products say they test them but in the real world, people flush more than the “one or two wipes per flush” recommended on the label. Laboratory simulations, likewise, do not work the same way as real sewage pipes and equipment.

What it boils down to is the product does not breakdown in water the same way toilet paper does. Consumer Reports tested the flushable wipes in comparison to toilet paper in 2009 and the wipes completely failed the disintegration test. Even the strongest, thickest ply toilet papers where able to pass the test. Consumer Reports concluded that users of wipes should dispose of them in the trash and the only thing that should go down your toilet should be toilet paper – no matter what the manufacturer advertises.


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