Flushable Wipes

What does the term, “flushable wipes” conjure in your mind? If you’re like me, the phrase on product packaging indicates the wipes will flush down the toilet and break down in your sewer lines or septic system, thus working just like toilet paper. But it appears that’s reading too much into the performance capabilities of these popular consumer products. And I have the plumbing bill to prove it.

About a year ago, we were using a lot of wipes in our house due to a medical condition. So we bought a wipe product that specifically promised to be flushable. They were indeed flushable; that is, they technically swirled down the toilet with ease. But exiting the house through the plumbing and into the sewer system? That’s another story.

One morning, I went into the basement and was surprised by 3 inches of dirty water backed up on the floor and it was rising as a family member was taking a long shower upstairs. A call to the plumber and a lighter wallet later, I’d learned the hard way that flushable wipes are not what most consumers think they are.

The plumber snaked out the pipe leading under the basement and out to the road, and quickly brought up the source of our stoppage: A clog of wipes that were hung up in the system before they could fall into the sewer pipe and float away from our house.

“I don’t care what the box says, these wipes are not flushable. And this happens all the time,” the plumber told me. A weekend of hard labor and several gallons of bleach cleaned up my basement. And used wipes started going into a plastic bag for disposal in the trash.

By: Jim Kneiszel


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