Are Wet Wipes Flushable?
Wet wipes are a great bathroom convenience. Nothing makes you feel fresher than using these moist towelettes. Are they really flushable though? This is a good question. Even though they say they are flushable, it may not be safe for your specific toilet. Let’s take a look at wet wipes and their flushability.
Can They Make It Down the Pipe?
Wet wipes are indeed able to fit down pipes with no issues. Now, this is true if there is no prior blockage in the pipe. If there is even a slight blockage, it can result in buildup and issues with the toilet being able to flush efficiently. For the most part, wet wipes go down the pipes just fine. This does not necessarily mean that they are flushable, though.
What Can Stop the Wipes from Going Down?
Roots! Roots can actually grow in the pipes, causing the wet wipes to get caught on them and causing a backup in the pipes. This can result in overflowing toilets and much more. This raises the question of why the toilet paper goes down and not the wet wipes.
Jeff’s Kitchen Bath & Beyond, a plumber in Orlando, notes that even though wet wipes are flushable, they do not dissolve as quickly as toilet paper does. If you have ever handled wet toilet paper, you have seen that it falls apart quickly. Toilet paper can dissolve fully in about 24 hours. Wet wipes will take a bit longer, causing a blockage when getting caught on any roots that may be growing in the pipes.
How Long Does It Take for Wet Wipes to Dissolve?
Wet wipes do not dissolve as quickly as toilet paper does. To give a better time frame, you can bet that it can take from weeks to months. This can be building up with every single wet wipe being flushed in the meantime, making the clog even worse.
What About in a Septic Tank?
Wet wipes can sit in a septic tank for a while. If the septic tank has a sump pump, it can get caught on that too. This can cause major drainage problems. With a septic tank, there can be a major buildup of wet wipes that do not dissolve for a long time. The larger the lump, the longer it will take to dissolve. The only way to clear out a septic tank that has been clogged by wet wipes is to hire a professional.
How About in a Sewer System?
Just like how roots can grow in pipes to the septic tank, the same can be true even if you have a sewer system. Roots can grow through any of these pipes. This can cause a backup directly to your toilet.
You can read more information on how roots can grow into plumbing pipes at SFGate HomeGuides.
Wet Wipes Can Cause Damage Beyond Your Home
Not only can flushing wet wipes down the drain cause backups in sewer and septic systems, it can cause issues at sewer treatment plants. In fact, wet wipes can come into treatment plants in bulk, causing some serious backups. This can cause the city a lot of money to repair the damages caused by wet wipes.
While one wet wipe may not seem like a big deal, it can indeed end up a very big deal. This is true with sewer treatment plants. If every home in the entire city flushed one wet wipe, that can add up very quickly. So, while flushing one wet wipe may not seem like a lot, it can cause a lot of damage.
What About Flushable Wipes?
Flushable wipes are designed to dissolve much more rapidly than the traditional wet wipe. They can actually be flushed one at a time. However, some of these flushable wet wipes are still not safe for septic tanks. It should say on the back of the package. It is also good to read the fine print before flushing down the toilet even it they say flushable on the front.
Always read the back of the package fully before using flushable wet wipes with sewer or septic systems. This is because there may be a limit on how many wipes are flushable at once or even in a day. The packaging should have a full list of details and restrictions.
With all of the above information, you can see why it is important to refrain from flushing wet wipes down the toilet. While they can be flushed, it may not be without damage. So no, wet wipes are not meant to be flushed. You can check out this YouTube video for more information.