Flushable wipes are marketed as such: flushable. However, what is the truth behind this statement? Are flushable wipes actually safe for your plumbing system?

We have always been taught that toilet paper is the only flushable product that won’t damage or clog our piping system. However, in recent years, flushable wipes have gained popularity as a “cleaner” alternative. The increase in flushable wipes usage has sparked a discussion surrounding the product’s “flushability” and how it affects plumbing in home and commercial septic systems.

Why Do People Use Flushable Wipes?

Flushable wipes are considered by some as a more effective cleaning experience that feels “fresher” than traditional toilet paper. They are also widely used by nursing home staff and those with small children. It’s deemed a more sanitary alternative to regular toilet paper.

Another reason flushable wipes gained popularity in recent years is the pandemic. Remember the toilet paper shortage? When toilet paper supplies became scarce, countless consumers switched to the available alternatives, such as flushable wipes. Some of these consumers continued to use them in their homes due to the added benefit of cleanliness.

Now, let’s get into why these flushable wipes are causing such a fuss, even with such benefits.

The Breakdown of the Product that Slowly Breaks Down

Flushable wipes are labeled as “flushable” because of their supposed ability to break down during the plumbing process. Companies manufacturing flushable wipes refer to disintegration tests that demonstrate the product’s ability to dissolve in water. 

In spite of that, other manufacturers and utility workers argue the testing doesn’t mimic real plumbing conditions well enough. They insist the wipes are much harsher on your plumbing than regular toilet paper. Although they are said to eventually break down over time in the plumbing system, the real issue is they take a much longer time to do so, or don’t break down enough. Unfortunately, this could lead to clogged pipes and inefficient plumbing as a result. 

Toilet paper is a great example of a product that breaks down quickly, creating space for water to flow through the pipes. On the other hand, flushable wipes may sometimes cause a disastrous issue in your home or business. 

As wipes are making their way through your pipes and the sewer system, they attach to other wipes or insoluble debris. When this occurs, the build-up clumps together, blocking the flow of water.

Some argue truly flushable wipes that won’t harm your plumbing system exist. However, many utility officials insist they are causing a much bigger problem than people realize. There have been multiple cases of wipes and other items not intended for flushing being discovered in huge quantities in plumbing systems. 

For example, after consistent plumbing issues with debris, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission spent $1 million to install grinders at a number of wastewater pumping stations. These grinders shred wipes and any other debris that might cause clogging. 

Which Products Are Actually Flushable?

The answer is simply— toilet paper. Some thicker toilet paper options can still cause blockage, but if you stick to regular, classic toilet paper, it’ll be kinder on your pipes and avoid blockage issues down the line. 

As there has been some evidence to suggest flushable wipes are better discarded in a different manner, it is best to avoid flushing them. The same goes for paper towels, sanitary pads, cotton swabs, and anything else you find questionable. These products are all made of materials not meant for flushing, as they don’t effectively break down in water.

Should you end up having plumbing issues for any reason, B&D Industries is here to help.

Call B&D Industries for All Your Plumbing Needs

For more than 65 years, B&D has worked tirelessly to provide residents and commercial properties in the southwest with a wide range of services to keep their homes and businesses running smoothly. Everything from pump replacements, sewer line repairs, clogged drains, and 24-hour emergency service, we’re the go-to for residential and commercial repairs. Call us to book an appointment today!