Flushable wipes have made cleaning and keeping your home hygienic quite convenient.
Just pull a wipe out and clean whatever mess there is. But if disposed of incorrectly, they can do quite the opposite, from causing clogs and leading to significant drainage problems.
This is why you should never flush wipes or baby wipes down the toilet, even ones that have "flushable" written on them. If you’re confused, let us show you what can happen after flushing "flushable" wipes.
Are Flushable Wipes Really Safe To Flush?
Though flushable wipes are advertised as an item that is safe for your drainage system, several professional plumbers say otherwise. If you take a quick look at the statistics from Sydney Water, more than 75% of blockages are caused by wet wipes.
Wet wipes also cause fatbergs, a conjoined pile of grease, fat and wet wipes. With the increase in demand for these wet wipes, the problem of fatbergs has also become increasingly common.
Another factor that makes these fatbergs challenging to deal with is their extraction. Though some machines can pull out most of the fatberg, more is needed to remove the entire piece. To remove the remaining pieces, workers would have to step in manually, and the last thing anybody wants is to spend their day cleaning fatbergs.
So, to save yourself and everyone else the trouble, it is recommended that you stick to flushing only the 3Ps; pee, poo and paper!
You may wonder why these wet wipe companies label their product as "flushable" when it isn’t. This is why the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) filed a case against several wet wipe manufacturers, including Kimberly Clark and their product (Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths).
A consumer advocacy group CHOICE survey showed how Australians comprehend "flushable wipes." Out of the 1679 people interviewed, around 67% believed that flushable wipes would disintegrate like other sanitary products. Not only is this untrue but also quite harmful if this is the majority of the public’s perception.
But what causes this confusion?
The Term "Flushable"
Though the word seems self-explanatory, it doesn’t have any specific meaning. Most flushable wipe manufacturers use the word to define a product that would go through your pipes and into the main sewer system. This may seem reasonable, but, in reality, it can cause serious clogs once it passes through the pipes.
Why Aren’t Flushable Wipes Flushable?
To understand this better, let’s look at the regular toilet paper. When flushed down the toilet, the contact with water makes it fragile, breaking into several tiny pieces. These pieces, since they’re so small, do not pose any threat to the drainage system.
Flushable wipes, on the other hand, do not follow the same disintegration process. CHOICE conducted a test where they placed flushable wipes and toilet paper in water. The toilet paper disintegrated entirely in three minutes, whereas flushable wipes did not budge even after 20 hours.
You may think flushing wipes down the toilet would only be a problem for the main sewer line. However, Sydney Water received reports of a woman who had to pay $16000 for her water bill, thanks to flushable wipes.
Biodegradable Flushable Wipes
When you see the term "biodegradable" on the wipes, you expect them to break down in the water. That is what biodegradable means, right?
Well, yes and no. Technically, they are supposed to break down in the water and not cause a problem within the drainage system. But that is not the case since they disintegrate like other flushable wipes when flushed.
The main difference is if you discard your biodegradable wipes in the bin and move them to a landfill, they can be composted.
How To Dispose Of Flushable Wipes Correctly?
The answer to this question is straightforward - in the bin. Any wet wipe you use, flushable or not, should be thrown in your garbage bin. This is the best way to prevent wipe-related clogs and protect the environment.
Find Out Once and For All: Are Flushable Wipes Really Flush-Friendly?
It can be hard to assess what is advertised appropriately and what isn't, and that’s okay. We hope this guide gave you a better understanding of what could potentially damage your pipes.
If you have a clog from flushed wipes, use a plunger to dislodge it. And even if it clears the clog up, call a plumber to inspect the clogged pipes and avoid any future issues by keeping the pipes running smoothly.
At WP Plumbing, our professional and experienced plumbers offer fast, affordable drain-clearing services and repair of any damage caused. So, get in touch with us today to speak with an expert!
That’s all for today’s guide. We look forward to seeing you next time!