Are Flushable Wipes Really Flushable?

For many of us, flushable wipes are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They’re handy, they’re affordable, and they make things like hygiene a whole lot easier. 
  • Flushable wipes aren’t really flushable
  • They lead to serious pipe and sewer blockages
  • Don’t flush your wipes — throw them in the bin instead
Why are flushable wipes called “flushable wipes” if they aren’t flushable?

Why are flushable wipes called “flushable wipes” if they aren’t flushable?

Technically, you can flush just about anything that’ll fit down the toilet. If you think back to childhood, you might remember when a certain superhero toy made its way down the drain. But just because something flushes doesn’t mean it’ll successfully make it through the sewer.

Currently, wipe companies have a lot of freedom when it comes to marketing. They can label wipes as “flushable” without having to prove that they’re safe for our sewer lines. That’s because there’s nothing requiring companies to provide test results.

The Research

So a Canadian research study set out to do the testing for them. And it showed that out of 100+ flushable wipes currently available on the market, none of them passed the test.

This naturally leads to consumer confusion, deceptive marketing techniques, and misinformation. Luckily, there are places like California trying to pass laws to protect consumers. Such laws (if passed) may require companies to more accurately label their products. But, not surprisingly, they’re met with pushback from huge flushable wipe companies.

Why are flushable wipes not flushable?

Most of us believe that something labeled as “flushable” can go down the toilet. But you’d be surprised to find out that in most cases, flushable wipes aren’t as flushable as you think.

When wipes flush down the drain, they should go easily … right? But what you don’t see is that plumbing pipes come in all different shapes and sizes. And as they bend through and around buildings, they have 45-degree elbows (or corners). So when wipes flush down the drain and run into these angles, they get stuck.

Over time, these wipes don’t make it to the sewer line. So they make up bigger and bigger clogs. Eventually, they form huge pipe blockages. And even if those wipes make it past your pipes and into the sewer, they form blockages down there, too.

So-called “flushable wipes” lead to wastewater equipment damage as well. They catch on impellers then cause pump breakdowns and other equipment failures. Wastewater treatment plant operators often ask local residents to avoid flushing wipes.

This is true even if they’re labeled as “flushable” or “biodegradable” for these (very real) reasons. Some cities spend millions a year repairing these damages and managing pipe blockages.

In short, don’t flush your wipes. Even if they say they’re flushable, biodegradable, or even compostable. Doing so leads to serious issues in your home, and in the sewers. Not to mention, in the local wastewater management treatment centers, too.

How to properly dispose of wipes

The best way to get rid of used wipes is to put them in a separate waste bin. So instead of flushing bathroom wipes, put them in the trash. This includes compostable, biodegradable, flushable, and cotton face cloth wipes.

If you recycle, try keeping two bins in the bathroom. One collects recyclable waste. And the other bin collects non-recyclable waste like used wipes. In the end, it’ll save you from having to deal with and possibly pay for serious pipe blockages.

Summary: “Flushable” wipes aren’t flushable

Flushable wipes are a convenient approach to personal hygiene. But when it’s time to flush them, it’s best to think twice — here’s why:

  • Flushable wipes aren’t really flushable
  • Wipes cause serious plumbing issues
  • Instead of flushing, throw them in a waste bin