December 2, 2022

Can You Flush Wipes Down Your Toilet?

flushable wipes

Wet wipes can cause serious damage to your home’s plumbing. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t dissolve and they will clump together inside your pipes and cause major clogs. Flushing wipes down the toilet might not be an immediate issue but the problems start when the wipes move towards the sewer system. They  can also wreak havoc on the local wastewater treatment plant. 

If you are flushing wet wipes down the toilet, you will most likely experience plumbing problems in the near future. Damage caused by wet wipes can be costly to repair! These damages are easy to avoid, however. Learn why it’s important that you throw away, instead of flush, wet wipes.

Can I flush baby wipes down the toilet? 

4 Reasons the answer is “no:”

Tweet from Los Angeles Sanitation showing two year-old jar with undissolved wipes.

Wipes dissolve slowly or don’t dissolve at all

Toilet paper dissolves quickly, whereas paper towels, feminine hygiene products, and wet wipes can take weeks, months or even years to dissolve; this is why flushing wet wipes could result in a nasty and expensive clog. 

In fact, the Los Angeles Sanitation Department posted a tweet of a two year-old wipe suspended in a jar of water to demonstrate the long-term dangers wet wipes pose to the plumbing system.

Wipes clump together 

Wet wipes easily combine with the fat, grease, and other gunk trapped in your pipes. These wet wipe formations can create huge clogs that can be over 10 feet long and weigh more than 100 pounds… yuck!

If you have any doubt, ask Londoners. They have an entire island of wet wipes forming in the Thames river. 

Baby wipes will get caught 

Pipes are often built out of clay, concrete, or iron. These materials are extremely susceptible to invasion from tree roots along your sewer line. When roots enter the pipes they form a web which can trap outgoing materials that are trying to pass through. If you are flushing wet wipes down the drain, they will most likely get caught and start a clog. It’s only a matter of time until that wet wipe dam completely stops sewage from flowing to the street. 

Wipes can damage the treatment plant 

You might be thinking, “I’ve put baby wipes in my toilet and never experienced any plumbing issues in my home!” Well, even if the wipes flush down your toilet and don’t wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing, that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing so somewhere else. 

Even if the wipes manage to make their way through your plumbing system, these fibrous wipes can damage and overheat the industrial grade pumps at wastewater treatment plants. These damages will cost taxpayers to repair. Some districts have even threatened lawsuits against wipe producers because of the continued damage they do.

A homeowner about to flush a wet wipe down their toilet.

Do “flushable” wipes dissolve? 

“Flushable” wet wipes are just wet wipes that are less fibrous and stringy than others. This might make them more likely to dissolve and less likely to clump but the evidence suggests otherwise. 

To prevent clogs and issues with your plumbing, we recommend avoiding flushing all wipes and here’s why: 

  • Flushable wipes break down… slowly. Whereas some wet wipes won’t dissolve at all, flushable wet wipes will dissolve. However, the process is so slow that it doesn’t make much of a difference. 
  • They will clump with other items in your sewer line. Toilet paper, cotton swabs, dental floss… anything else that is stuck in the pipeline will clump with the wipes. 

What Happens if You Flush Wipes Down Your Toilet?

Worst case scenario: your plumbing backs up completely. Avoid costly repairs by simply throwing away your wet wipes! If it’s too late, get your sewer line cleaned as soon as possible to clear away any buildup that may have accumulated. If you’re experiencing a troubling clog or issues with your plumbing, get in touch with Applewood today. We’re open 7 days a week to serve you with NO overtime charges!

Call  303-328-3060

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