Flushable wipes may be a necessary part of your bathroom routine. But what happens when these bad boys are actually flushed down the toilet? If the packaging markets the wipes as flushable, then they should be safe to flush, right? Well, not quite.
Ironically, flushable wipes are actually known for creating quite the mess. Flushing these regularly down the toilet can potentially clog your sewer line, causing a much bigger plumbing problem than you would expect. To avoid this toilet catastrophe, it’s best to know the true facts about flushable wipes before putting them down the drain.
Can You Safely Flush “Flushable” Wipes?
Are flushable wipes safe for septic systems? The short answer: no. You can attempt to flush a variety of things down a toilet, but that doesn’t mean they’re made to effectively move through a sewage system.
This is why flushable wipes should not be flushed, even if it’s advertised that they can be. While flushable wipes are likely to make it through the curved part of your toilet’s drain, they can get stuck in the drainpipe and fail to disintegrate over time. This can quickly cause the drain to clog, which could turn into an expensive plumbing repair.
Unlike toilet paper, which is made to dissolve quickly when wet, flushable wipes hold themselves together better when they are heavily saturated. This is because they are made out of synthetic materials, like polyester or other plastics, that don’t break down when wet. If there isn’t enough water to push these wipes through the sewer line, they will likely block the pipe and create a sewer backup.
What Kind of Damage Can Flushable Wipes Cause?
Flushable wipes can cause a lot of damage to plumbing pipes, sewer systems, and residential homes if sewer backups occur. Because these wipes don’t disintegrate, they can easily clog sewer lines, as well as cause other damage to the following:
- Septic Tanks: If your home has its own septic system, your tanks will need to be pumped more often if you flush wet wipes down the toilet. Flushable wipes can also block pipes, create a backup, and cause flooding in your home.
- Sewage Pump: Backups in your sewage system due to flushable wipes will cause your sewage pump to work harder than it needs to, potentially burning out the pump. If your pump doesn’t have a battery backup or the battery is dead, your home can be flooded with sewage and wastewater.
- City Sewer Lines: Flushable wipes may get caught with other non-flushable items in public sewer lines, such as feminine products, paper towels, thick toilet paper, dental floss, toilet cleaning pads, and other items. Large buildups of these products will eventually lead to large blockages.
- Sewage Treatment Plants: Even if your flushable wipes make it through the sewer pipes, they can still create massive backups in the pumps at sewage treatment centers. This may cause catastrophic damage to the city’s entire sewer system, meaning that several households can be affected by sewage backups and water shortages.
Whether damage from flushable wipes is centralized to just your home or is widespread to a whole city sewer system, repairs for this sort of plumbing catastrophe can be incredibly expensive—and, not to mention, incredibly gross to clean up.
Why Are These Products Labeled Flushable?
If flushable wipes are not flushable, then why are they marketed to do just that? Unfortunately, companies who manufacture these flushable wipes aren’t restricted on how they label products, therefore marketing these wipes as “flushable” even if it’s not true. If companies tested any “flushable” products before releasing them to the public, they would fail any flushability test.
While policy attempts have been made to restrict companies from this deceptive practice, there is significant resistance in the industry from changing their ways. Since these companies aren’t restricted in how they label these products, it’s best to be aware of which things are actually flushable and which are not.
How Can You Safely Dispose of Flushable Wipes?
If you can’t flush them, then you may be wondering how to dispose of flushable wipes in a safe way. Because flushable wipes are not flushable, they’ll need to be disposed of somewhere else to avoid any plumbing emergency.
The only things that should be flushed down the toilet are toilet paper and human waste. If you use flushable wipes, always throw them away in the garbage instead of flushing them down the toilet. Additionally, flushable wipes are not recyclable and should always be placed in a trash can.
If you’re worried about your sewer system backing up from flushing wet wipes in the past, it’s best to have your home’s system inspected by a professional plumber as soon as possible. Our plumbing technicians at Carefree Home Warranty are here for you and your home’s plumbing needs. Give us a call at 913-701-6016.