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Are Flushable Wipes Really Flushable?


Have you ever chosen to use a wet wipe over toilet paper when using the restroom? If you have, you may recognize that a wipe does leave your backside feeling cleaner than toilet paper will leave you feeling. Disposable wipes are mainly used to wipe the behind of a child, especially a young baby to get them clean. The wipes are great because they’re already wet, and they provide an easy solution to clean off the buttocks of a child, especially when they have messed themselves. In recent years, the use of products such as pre-moistened "flushable" wipes have been advertised to feel "cleaner" and "fresher" has increased the use of wipes by many consumers. The problem is many consumers don't realize that “flushable” wipes have caused damage to wastewater systems across the country.

This leaves people wondering are flushable wipes really flushable? According to a study by Ryerson University, flushable wipes can not be flushed down the toilet safely. This includes cleansing and diaper wipes. Though you can physically flush it down, it may cause build-up inside and clogged drain over time. 

Wet wipes are marketed as “flushable” and “septic-safe,” so there should be no problem with flushing them down the toilet, right? Wrong! The flushable wipe marketing strategy is based on wipes that state that they can be flushed, but the fact is that they don’t biodegrade very quickly. Even though these wipes do eventually break down, they take a longer amount of time to do so compared to toilet paper. Since the breakdown of wet wipes is not as rapid, clogged pipes and blockages occur more frequently, putting your home’s plumbing at risk for serious clogs translates to hefty plumbing bills for you.

Those who flush their wipes outside of their home (not in their own) may never experience what it can do to their plumbing system. Often, people will take their kids out to the park or somewhere where they don’t have to use their own toilet and choose to flush the wipes, so they may never know what the wipes are doing to the toilet or waste system. Anything that is flushed down a toilet must go through the waste system, and if the wipes get stuck in the toilet or partway down the drain pipe, anything else that tries to pass though can get stuck to it causing drains to be slow or become completely clogged. What often happens is the wipes will go down the toilet, go down through the pipes, but somewhere along the main sewage line, they will get stuck, and eventually, more waste will get stuck on it, creating a ball known as “ragging”, which then creates the clog and a big mess. “Ragging” refers to the phenomenon in which flushable wipes for adults and toddlers combine with other items such as extra-thick toilet paper, toilet cleaning wand pop-off pads, baby wipes, paper towels, sanitary pads, dental floss and other items that are not designed to be flushed that get tangled up in sewer pipes. Those who have continuously flushed wipes down the toilets in their home may experience clogging of all their drains, especially if it’s gone far enough down the drainage system into the main line. It’s possible for tubs, sinks, toilets and more to back up in the home, simply because wipes were flushed down the toilet and clogged up the piping system.

When you experience a drainage backup, you may never know exactly what’s clogging your plumbing system, but if you know that you’re using wipes every day and flushing them, then it’s very likely that the wipes will eventually clog up your drains. When this happens, getting a plumber out to do toilet repair and drain cleaning may be necessary, especially if you can’t flush the toilets or your drains are backing up because of the clog. If you are experiencing any plumbing concerns, give your Omaha SWEET plumbers at American Rooter Plumbing a call.

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