Disposable wipes have become the bane of sewer systems around the world, which already are being pushed to the limit by growing populations and insufficient infrastructure. Non-woven cloths have been getting stuck in pipes, creating massive clogs requiring expensive drain and sewer cleaning.
Companies advertise their disposable wipes as “flushable” or “safe for sewer and septic systems,” but independent studies have found otherwise. Because the wipes do not easily biodegrade; they clog pipes, foul sewage treatment equipment and compromise home septic systems.
While “flushable” wipes can technically be tossed into the toilet and flushed down, the “flushable” label fails to address the issues that arise once the wipe goes down the pipes. Since the term “flushable” is not legally defined or regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, companies can still label these disposable wipes as such.
The most problematic type of wipes are personal wipes used by adults at the toilet. Baby wipes, used to clean babies during diaper changes, represent a simple disposal problem. The cloths go into a diaper pail along with the diaper, and then into the solid waste stream. Furthermore, wipes that are not marketed as flushable and may even contain labeling that warn consumers not to flush are often deposited into toilets simply because the consumer assumes that because the wipes look similar they can be flushed.
Avoid flushing any type of wipe, “flushable” or otherwise, down the toilet. This will prevent clogs requiring expensive drain and sewer cleaning. In fact, it would be best to avoid disposable wipes completely since they produce waste that ends up in a landfill. More sustainable alternatives, such as toilet paper made of unbleached recycled paper that dissolves-quickly-in-water, exists. If you must use wipes, make sure they are properly disposed of, in the trash.