Talking about plumbing systems isn’t something most people tend to spend time on to unless they’re having issues with theirs. And discussing the more awkward topics such as flushing certain items down our toilets is certainly not a conversation many of us wish to have. Ever.
But real life means real issues and the use and disposal of “flushable” wipes is one of those awkward, but pertinent topics that should be addressed.
Introduction to “Flushable” Wipes
“Flushable” wipes have become a popular addition to many households, promising convenience and improved hygiene. These wipes are marketed as a hassle-free alternative to traditional toilet paper.
However, the question arises: can you really flush wipes down the toilet without causing any harm?
We want to take a deep dive and explore the truth behind “flushable” wipes, their environmental impact, common problems they can cause, and what you should know to make informed choices.
Can You Really Flush Wipes Down the Toilet?
The short answer is no, despite what the packaging may claim. “Flushable” wipes are often made from non-woven materials that don’t break down as easily as toilet paper. When flushed, they can linger in your plumbing system and, over time, lead to clogs and blockages.
Wipes are designed to be durable and moist, which is why they can endure the journey through the toilet and sewer system without disintegrating as toilet paper does. As they travel further along the pipes, they can accumulate and combine with other debris, creating potential obstructions.
The Environmental Impact of Flushing Wipes
Flushing “flushable” wipes has not only plumbing implications but also environmental consequences. When wipes enter the sewage system, they often end up in wastewater treatment plants.
These facilities are not equipped to efficiently handle the breakdown of wipes, leading to increased maintenance costs and potential equipment damage. Additionally, wipes can escape into natural water bodies, contributing to pollution and environmental problems.
Common Problems Caused by Flushing Wipes
Flushing wipes can result in a range of common problems, including:
- Clogs: The accumulation of wipes in your plumbing can lead to clogs that restrict water flow and cause blockages.
- Backups: Clogs can result in sewage backups in your home, creating unsanitary and costly messes to clean up.
- Expensive Repairs: Fixing plumbing issues caused by flushing wipes can be expensive and inconvenient.
- Environmental Damage: As mentioned earlier, flushing wipes has a negative environmental impact, contributing to pollution and increased treatment costs.
The Truth Behind the “Flushable” Label
The term “flushable” is misleading. While some wipes may be able to physically travel through your toilet and plumbing system, it doesn’t mean they should be flushed. The key difference between wipes and toilet paper is that toilet paper is specifically designed to break down quickly in water, while wipes are not.
As GreenAmerica.org noted in one of their articles,
“If the label says “flushable,” then wet wipes should be able to go down the toilet, right? Unfortunately, no. Flushable wipes aren’t as flushable as advertised. But people are flushing wipes down toilets – and this is causing dangerous problems. Toilet paper is designed to disintegrate in our pipes and sewage systems, but flushable wipes are not. They’re typically made with synthetic materials, plastics or polyester, that won’t break down. So even if they flush down your toilet, they end up clogging our sewers. This poses hazardous risks to sewage professionals that must break these clogs up as well as considerable costs. Some cities have spent millions of dollars a year to address damages and clear the pipes.”
In addition, The Spruce points out that flushable wipes pose a risk to residential and municipal plumbing systems, as well as hazardous effects of microplastics on marine life, so it’s clear that flushable wipes shouldn’t be disposed of by flushing them down a toilet.
Alternatives to Flushing Wipes
Instead of flushing “flushable” wipes, consider these alternatives:
- Trash Can: If you prefer to use these products, dispose of used wipes in a lined trash can. This prevents plumbing problems and minimizes the environmental impact.
- Bidet: Consider using a bidet as a more sustainable and hygienic alternative to wipes.
- Toilet Paper: Stick to toilet paper for your bathroom needs, as it’s designed to disintegrate quickly in water.
How to Properly Dispose of Wipes
If you’re still inclined to use wipes, it’s crucial to dispose of them correctly. Place used wipes in a trash can, and make sure the can is lined with a trash bag to contain odors and prevent contamination. Be diligent about emptying the trash can regularly.
Tips for Maintaining Your Plumbing System
To maintain your plumbing system and prevent issues related to flushing wipes and other threats to the proper functioning of your sewer and drain system, consider these tips:
- Regular Inspections: Schedule routine plumbing inspections to identify and address potential problems early.
- Proper Disposal: Educate your household on the importance of not flushing wipes and disposing of them in the trash.
- Avoid Excessive Use: Minimize the use of wipes in your plumbing system, particularly if you have an older or sensitive system.
The Importance of Education and Awareness
Education and awareness are crucial in addressing the problems caused by flushing wipes. It’s essential to inform people about the potential consequences of flushing wipes and the more responsible alternatives available.
Making Informed Choices About Flushable Wipes
While “flushable” wipes may be convenient, they are not friendly to your plumbing system, the municipal sewer system, nor the environment. To make informed choices, it’s best to avoid flushing wipes altogether.
Instead, opt for more eco-friendly and plumbing-friendly alternatives and raise awareness among your friends and family about the potential problems caused by these seemingly harmless products.
By doing so, you’ll contribute to the longevity of your plumbing system and reduce environmental impact.
Work with the Best Pipe Professionals in the Northwest
At N.W. Sewer & Drain, it is our heart-felt belief that our customers come first. And all of our services are tailored to our customers to ensure their complete satisfaction with their service.
What that means in practice is that our employees and eager to help you with whatever problems your commercial or residential plumbing systems may present. So, for all of your sewer drain cleaning needs, you can depend on N.W. Sewer & Drain.
Contact us today at 206-931-7728 to schedule an appointment.