How To Dispose Of Flushable Wipes

Flushable wipes are great for personal hygiene — but they aren’t so great on your septic system.

The next time you’re ready to send flushable wipes down the drain, try these alternatives instead:

  • If appropriate, compost your flushable wipes
  • If you can’t compost your wipes, toss them in a separate waste bin
  • But no matter what, don’t flush them

Ways to get rid of “flushable” wipes

To put it simply, flushable wipes aren’t as flushable as most of us think. So here are some alternatives when it comes to tossing them.

Compost your flushable wipes

Instead of flushing your wipes, find out if you can compost them instead. If the back of your wipes label indicates they are compostable, they’ll break down in a few months or so. And best of all, they won’t leave any toxic elements behind.

Quick note: Biodegradable wipes aren’t the same thing as compostable wipes. Be sure to check for “compostable” specifically.

Toss your flushable wipes in a bin

If the wipes you buy aren’t flushable, toss them in a separate waste bin. This keeps those wipes from clogging up your pipes. And it keeps your recyclable waste separate from your non-recyclable waste. Empty your bin as needed and make sure all contents end up in the garbage (not the recycling).

DO NOT flush wipes down the toilet

DO NOT flush wipes down the toilet

Long story short, flushable wipes aren’t really that flushable. Right now, there aren’t a lot of regulations around what counts as flushable and what doesn’t. And that’s why you end up with serious pipe damage, water treatment facility issues, and sewer clogs.

When you flush wipes down the toilet drain, flushable or not, they don’t have enough time to break down. They get caught and stuck around turns in your pipes. And over time, those wipes form huge blockages.

Now, sometimes flushable wipes do make it to the sewer system. But even then, they form giant sewer backups — and it’s a serious issue. So much so that water treatment plants ask local residents to avoid flushing wet wipes if at all possible.

Reasons to avoid flushing wipes into the toilet

We know that wet wipes lead to clogs. Now it’s time to explore why wipes don’t break down the way we expect them to.

Wet wipes are made from non-natural materials

Most wet wipes are made out of synthetic materials and formed into non-woven fabrics. This doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but this makes it much harder for wipes to degrade.

Most flushable wipes are held together by things like:

  • Resins
  • Chemicals
  • Plastics

These materials are durable — which seems like a good thing. But it actually means your wipes are much harder to get rid of.

Wet wipes are extremely durable

Wet wipes are durable because they’re made with durable materials. And since they don’t degrade quickly or easily, they form huge clogs. These clogs are so common that they actually have a special name: fatbergs.

Fatbergs are huge masses that clump in sewer systems. They’re a combination of flushable wipes, oil, and grease. Not only are fatbergs pretty gross, but they’re also incredibly expensive to resolve.

Wet wipes aren’t actually flushable

We already mentioned that there’s not a lot of regulation around what’s considered “flushable.” And wet wipe companies take advantage of this with clever marketing and packaging. Well, until a Canadian research study decided to put their claims to the test.

They analyzed 100+ kinds of flushable wipes and published the results in Forbes. And they found that out of all of them, none of them were actually flushable. “Flushable” in this case means a wipe breaks down or degrades in sewage system conditions.

Naturally, this leads to a lot of confusion. If wipes aren’t flushable, then how do you dispose of wet wipes? Why would a company market their product as flushable if it wasn’t?

This is why it’s important that you don’t flush your wet wipes. Compost them or throw them away in a separate waste bin instead. This prevents fatbergs from forming. It prevents serious sewer backups. And it’ll save you money in the long run.

Summary: How to dispose of flushable wipes

Wet wipes are affordable and convenient, especially when it comes to personal hygiene. But they’re not actually flushable, and they shouldn’t make their way down a drain. Here’s a quick recap of why wipes aren’t flushable, and how to dispose of flushable wipes instead:

  • Flushable wipes are made from synthetic, durable materials
  • This causes wipes to form fatbergs (or massive clogs)
  • Instead, throw them in a bin or compost them if appropriate