What’s Wrong With Flushing Disposable Wipes?

Find out why you shouldn't flush disposable wipes from the experts at Calhoun Plumbing

What’s Wrong With Flushing Disposable Wipes?

Calhoun Plumbing

July 25, 2019

People commonly flush disposable wipes down the toilet. Unfortunately, this practice can lead to a variety of problems in the home’s plumbing, including slow drains and sewer backups. Know why this causes a problem and what you can do about to help you protect your home’s plumbing from clogs and expensive repairs.

Why Is Toilet Paper Flushable and Disposable Wipes Aren’t?

By design, disposable wipes are thick and durable. They’re meant to withstand a variety of abuses and clean many surfaces, from baby bottoms to desktops. This same strength and durability makes many types of disposable wipes inappropriate for flushing down the toilet because they don’t biodegrade quickly enough to be drain- and sewer-safe.

Compare a disposable wipe to a standard piece of toilet paper. Rub the two materials between your fingers. Soak each product in water. Tear the paper. You should find that the toilet paper is easy to tear, especially when it’s wet. The disposable wipe is much more difficult to tear, even when it’s been soaked in water.

Why are they so different? Toilet paper is typically made from wood while many disposable wipes contain plastic. This plastic allows disposable wipes to maintain their structure even when flushed down the toilet. Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to biodegrade quickly in the drains and sewers, disposable wipes can last a long time and may accumulate in drains and sewers.

What If the Product Is Labeled Flushable?

Some products may be labeled as flushable by their manufacturers. However, the term flushable is not legally defined or regulated. Companies are able to decide for themselves what makes their wipes flushable.

The flushable label is not a promise that the product is safe for drains and sewers. In fact, disposable wipes are said to be the cause of 93 percent of sewer clogs in the UK. These products have also famously clogged the sewers in New York and Washington, D.C.

Should Other Products Not Be Flushed Down the Drain?

The safest way to protect your home’s drains and sewers is to limit what you flush to water, toilet paper, and human waste.

Other products that may be labeled as flushable include kitty litter, feminine hygiene products, and diapers. The safest way to dispose of these products is by throwing them away. If you and other members of your family have been flushing these items down the toilet, you may need to educate your family members about the problems that this could be making for your plumbing.

What Problems Should You Look Out For?

If you’ve been flushing wipes, diapers, tampons, or kitty litter down your toilet, your drains, mainline, or sewer could be in trouble. Watch out for signs that the system is backing up or clogging. Warning signs include:

  • Strange gurgling noises in the drains as water flows down into the sewer.
  • Slow drains throughout the house, especially in the lowest drains (namely, floor drains, shower drains and bathtub drains) on the lowest floors.
  • Wastewater backing up into the lowest drains of the home.

If your home’s drainage system is showing signs of distress, stop using all plumbing fixtures and water-using appliances in your home. Contact a reputable plumber as soon as possible to have your plumbing repaired and be sure to avoid flushing anything other than paper or waste in the future.

Who Can You Contact for More Information?

If you need more information about what not to flush (and why), contact Calhoun Plumbing. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about your home’s plumbing and drains. Call us today to schedule our services or visit our website to learn more about us.