Posted on 11/12/2013

When you hear the term “flushable wipes,” you probably think of the phrase on product packaging that indicates the wipes will flush down the toilet and break down in your sewer lines or septic system. Unfortunately, flushable wipes do not break down like toilet paper, so using a lot of them can create a serious plumbing problem. To protect your home’s plumbing systems, here is what you need to know about the potential dangers of flushable wipes.

Wiping Counter with Disinfecting Wipe

Flushability Assessment Guidelines
According to a study released by the New England Water Environment Association, Flushability assessment guidelines were developed in 2009 by the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, which represent manufacturers of products like flushable bathroom wipes. To be marketed as “flushable” or “plumbing/septic safe,” a product must be able to clear residential plumbing systems, be compatible with wastewater conveyance, treatment, reuse, and disposal systems, and be unrecognizable in a reasonable period of time.

Truth in Advertising
Although these wipes are most definitely flushable, researchers have started to focus on the dispersability of the wipes—that is, how long it takes for the wipes to break down once they are flushed down the toilet. In Orange County, CA, wastewater officials have done bench testing with flushable wipes, using magnetic stirrers to agitate them for more than 24 hours. After this prolonged agitation period, researchers found that the flushable wipes were not noticeably degraded.

Danger to Septic Tank Health
In addition to posing a danger of clogging your pipes, flushable wipes may also affect the delicate chemical balance inside your septic tank. The alcohol in flushable wipes can kill the enzymes and bacteria in septic tanks that help to break down solid waste. This means if your home is hooked up to a septic tank, flushable wipes can cause your tank to fill up faster than normally.

If flushable wipes have caused a plumbing or septic problem in your home, call Arrow Plumbing, Inc. of Libertyville. We have provided residential and commercial plumbing services to Libertyville and the surrounding communities since 1996. Visit our website to learn more about our plumbing services, or call us at (888) 349-8161 if you have any questions.