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The Case Against Flushable Wipes

Updated: Oct 25



We’ve all seen the flushable wipes advertised on television and at the store for promoting good sanitary practices. You may have also seen disinfecting wipes that claim to be flushable. We can not stress enough that these flushable wipes are NOT actually flushable and can cause more harm than good!


The only things that should be flushed are human excrement and toilet paper. Introducing anything else to the sewer line and city wastewater systems can be detrimental to the health of these systems. This is why you should not put wipes, grease, paint, chemicals, medication, solvents, and other objects and liquids down a toilet or drain in your home.


You may ask why toilet paper is safe but wipes are not. Toilet paper is made to break down in septic tanks and city sewer systems. Believe it or not, but toilet paper is made out of wood! Hard and softwood trees are blended and mashed into a pulp then treated to make fiber. After further treatment, the fiber is pressed and then cut for toilet paper rolls. If you’ve ever spilled water on a roll of toilet paper, you might have noticed that it rips easier than when the roll is dry because the fiber bonds are already starting to break down.


Flushable wipes have recently made the news during the pandemic. When toilet paper shortages were plaguing the stores nationwide, people were using sanitary wipes as a replacement. Besides sewer backups and slow drains causing issues in homes, city wastewater systems have also had problems with the flushable wipes at treatment facilities. A class action lawsuit from the City of Charleston, South Carolina was filed in 2021 against companies advertising that wipes are flushable because of the costly repairs at their treatment facilities and city sewer systems. One of the wipes makers settled outside of court and will be changing their marketing language and process for manufacturing the wipes.


Even before the pandemic and toilet paper shortages, local water agencies have been urging its citizens to not flush these wipes down the toilet. News agencies have run countless stories about this issue and we still have found these sanitary wipes in sewer lines causing backups and flow restrictions. While writing this post, I was personally reminded by the City of Aurora to not flush wipes in my water bill!

If you are using these wipes and flushing them down the toilet, stop immediately to prevent a backup of your sewer line. Give us a call to schedule an appointment to check if there are any blockages in your sewer line from use of those flushable wipes before a backup happens.


Sources:

http://www.madehow.com/Volume-6/Toilet-Paper.html


https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/05/21/flushable-wipes-are-terrible-plumbing/


https://abcnews4.com/news/local/charleston-water-system-files-class-action-lawsuit-against-flushable-wipe-makers


https://denver.cbslocal.com/2019/05/23/flushable-wipes-problems-wastewater-system/


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