Flushable wipes are some of the most commonly used cleaning apparatus. They are used in homes, schools, and even medical facilities for a quick and easy way to clean up a dirty surface.
The most-liked parts about these wipes are that they are safe to use on the body, and they come with an easy disposal option – flushing down the toilet.
Today, we will cover the most effective ways of disposing of your flushable wipes.
We also take a closer look at just how flushable these wipes are and whether they pose any threat to our sewer system or waterways. Let’s start right away.
How to Dispose of Flushable Wipes
Here are some of the most practical ways on how to dispose of flushable wipes. We have listed them down in the most effective to least option.
Throw Them in Your Compost Bins
If your flushable wipes come with a ‘compostable’ label, you can throw them in the compost bin and let nature do its magic.
They will be broken down due to their biodegradable nature.
This is the safest and most eco-friendly option but can only be done for compostable wipes.
Create a Wipe Pail
One of the smartest ways to dispose of flushable wipes is by creating a wipe pail to store them until the garbage disposal day.
These pails are completely opaque in color so that the wipes won’t be seen through and create an unpleasant sight.
Moreover, they don’t require special bags for storage, making them quite cost-efficient for your flushable wipe disposal.
Flush Down the Toilet
We left the most obvious option on how to dispose of flushable wipes for the last because this is also the least effective one.
Although flushable wipes are advertised to be safely disposed of by flushing down your toilet, the reality is quite the opposite.
Flushable wipes pose the same threat of clogging and blockage to your sewer systems as any other wipe.
The material used isn’t biodegradable; hence it can cause significant obstructions in your pipelines. We have discussed this in further detail below.
Also read: Is Tissue Paper Biodegradable?
Why You Should Avoid Flushing Down Your Wipes
Although we have mentioned that flushable wipes can be disposed of down the toilet, it is best to avoid them.
Here are the major reasons why flushable wipes aren’t really ‘flushable.’
These reasons have also led plumbers to recommend people avoid flushing any type of wipe down their toilets.
They are Made of Non-Natural Materials
The main reason why even flushable wipes shouldn’t be disposed of down the drain is that they are made of non-woven, non-natural materials.
These materials are held together by resins, chemicals, or high-pressure applications, making them increasingly durable.
While this may seem like an attractive property, you should keep in mind that with durability comes decreased disposability.
The strong bonding makes it difficult for the wipe to break down.
Secondly, flushable wipes shed microfibers. While most of these are removed by the sewer treatment process, some white plastic fibers make it past the filtration process and clog the pipes.
Lastly, flushable wipes are made of non-recyclable plastic that adds extra volume to our landfill sites.
They are Extremely Durable
As mentioned above, flushable wipes are very durable, which leads them to stay in the sewage network for a long time.
They often end up becoming ‘plugs’ in your sewer and make all other solid particles clump together as well.
This makes these wipes a major component of fatbergs and leads to serious obstructions in the waterways.
They aren’t Made to Be Biodegradable
Here are the main reasons why flushable wipes are considered non-biodegradable and the possible dangers they can cause to the environment.
- They can take hundreds of years to break down completely.
- They can end up in the open ocean if the sewer system isn’t properly cleaned or filtered.
- If ingested by our marine life, they can cause strangulation, death and even become a toxic part of the food chain.
They aren’t Really Flushable
Why are we so adamant about reinstating that flushable wipes aren’t really flushable?
It’s because Forbes reported a study in which the flushability of these wipes was tested out, and the results didn’t speak in favor of the wipes.
There were 101 wipes tested, and all of them failed to break down or disperse safely in conditions that mimicked those in our sewerage systems.
Out of these 101 wipes, 23 were labeled as flushable. Hence, the researchers created a lab model of a home lavatory to test how they would perform.
The reports show that none of these flushable wipes dispersed or safely passed through the sewer system without clogging.
Moreover, they also posed a risk of damage to the toilet infrastructure.
Some of these flushable wipes also accumulated into fatbergs that can cost the city extra expenses and time to remove and clear out the waterways.
Why are Flushable Wipes Not Flushable?
Flushable wipes, and all other kinds of wipes, are not flushable.
It is a simple fact, no matter how different brands advertise their wipes to be entirely safe to go down your toilet.
The reason behind this is simple; your sewer system is designed to handle two things only;
- Human waste
- Toilet paper
Any other material dumped down the sewer has the potential to cause blockages, which can result in serious problems for the overall sewer system of your neighborhood.
Are Flushable Wipes Better than Toilet Paper?
Every plumber and water damage expert will tell you that toilet paper is most definitely better than flushable wipes.
In addition to possible health concerns, wipes can always cause a toilet clogging catastrophe in your home, even the flushable kind.
Even if a flushable wipe goes down your pipes properly, it will still take way longer to break down as compared to toilet paper.
This extended time period leaves more room for clogging issues in sewer and septic systems.
Will Flushable Wipes Clog Pipes?
Yes, they will.
Even pipes labeled as ‘flushable’ can and will lead to clogged pipes and toiled blockages.
The sanitation departments of several states have warned citizens not to flush any kind of wipes. This is because these disposable wipes can cause major blockages in the wastewater systems.
They recommend that only GD4 compliant wipes can be flushed and that too in small quantities occasionally.
Are Flushable Wipes Ok for Septic Tanks?
This is a topic that plumbers and septic tank service experts both agree on wholeheartedly.
Wipes of any kind, be they flushable or not, will cause problems in septic tank systems.
Flushable wipes are often advertised as the friendlier, easier to use products that easily disintegrate and can be disposed of without any problems.
However, the fact is that flushable wipes will not dissolve in your septic tanks.
Furthermore, septic tank installation companies say that they are almost certain to cause damage to your tanks in the long run.
What Can I Use Instead of Flushable Wipes?
Now that you know of the dangers of flushable wipes and how they aren’t flushable at all, you’re probably looking for better alternatives to use.
Flushable wipes can block your sewer system and disrupt the flow of water all across your neighborhood.
Instead of using flushable wipes, you should stick to high-quality, double-ply toilet paper.
It gets the job done just as well, without possibly clogging your toilet and leading to a flooded bathroom.
If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly option to use, you can create your own wipes out of cloth!
There are several tutorials on YouTube that teach you how to create sustainable fabric wipes that can be washed, dried, and reused numerous times.
This is not only better for the environment but also saves you quite some money in the long run and eliminates any chances of a sewer breakdown.
In the End
When they were first introduced to the market, everyone rushed to buy flushable wipes as they allowed easily cleaning and quick disposal.
Unfortunately, just because a product claims to be safe to be flushed doesn’t mean that it is.
Soon enough, instances of clogged toilets and obstructed pipes were reported. This led to plumbers strongly warning people against flushing down any kind of wipes, flushable or otherwise.
Therefore, if you use them at home, be sure to follow the right steps on how to dispose of flushable wipes, as mentioned below.
Also, consider switching to a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternate, like wipes made of different fabrics.
They are better for the environment, easier to use, and gentler on your skin too!
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