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Are Wet Wipes Flushable?

January 14, 2021

Are Wet Wipes Flushable?

A lot of wet wipe brands claim that you can flush their wipes. But are wipes really truly flushable?

The long and the short of it is, no, the vast majority of wet wipes are not actually flushable, nor are they safe for sewer systems.

Why not?

Most wet wipes on the market have synthetic fibers in them, like polyester and plastics. Because of this, they do not readily degrade or break down—these wipes can, in fact, take 100 years to decompose! So when wet wipes are flushed down the toilet, they remain solid for up to a literal century—and you can imagine the nightmare that this causes for your plumbing system and septic. (Read on if you dare to learn more in-depth about what can happen—spoiler alert, it ain’t cute.) 

And, it gets worse: when plastics break down, they don’t break down into organic material, aka biodegrade— they simply break down into smaller pieces of plastic. These microplastics get into the water systems, which can set off a chain of effects that are devastating to ocean life, and, in turn, detrimental to humans. According to Richard Harrington of the Marine Conservation Society, “fibers can be swallowed by barnacles, scallops, crabs and fish, which runs the risk that they can get into the human food chain.” Yikes! To make matters worse, when organisms ingest the chemical compounds that are present in plastics, they go through a process called biomagnification, which is basically when inorganic, toxic chemicals and compounds accumulate in marine animals. As the pollutants travel up the marine food chain, they magnify, affecting larger predators the most. 

So, not only are most conventional wipes truly not flushable, but they also wreak all kinds of havoc as they make their way through the waste stream. 

According to plumber of 29 years Tim Carter, the only thing that should really be regularly traveling down your pipes is “liquid and solid waste from your body and toilet paper”. In simple terms, if you consider how easy it is for toilet paper to break down (goodness knows my kitten has a blast and is very successful in her pursuit of shredding mine!) versus how difficult it is to break down wet wipes, it’s not hard to understand why wipes can be so problematic. While they may make it down your toilet just fine, they can get clogged in your septic system and leave you with a sewer backup the equivalent of the 405 during rush hour. This is not only dangerous in terms of causing a septic failure, but also can be incredibly costly—to individual homeowners, or to municipalities. New York City alone has spent more than $18 million in the last five years on “wipe-related equipment problems,” extracting more than double the volume of solid waste than previous years from their wastewater treatment plant—and that uptick in waste has been shown to be largely comprised of wet wipes.

Don’t want to ruin your lunch or anything, but have you ever heard of a fatberg?! Like something straight out of a bad 90s horror flick, fatbergs are huge, solid masses that form in and clog sewer systems. Basically a petrified concoction of wet wipes, feminine products, cooking grease, and human waste, these fatbergs have grown into an increasingly common problem. And, get this—the majority of what’s bunging up the septic systems is wet wipes. These fatbergs pose a risk environmentally, and take a lot of resources to fix.

So, my friends, the moral of this horror movie is, DON’T FLUSH WET WIPES. For real, if there’s a trash or feminine product receptacle, utilize it.

The nice thing about our feminine wipes—when we say that they are flushable, they really are flushable. Seriously. We are not here to contribute to anyone’s fatberg. 

Our wipes were engineered specifically to be safely flushed and disintegrate as they make their merry way through the septic system. They are plant-based and are designed to maintain their integrity in the package and during use, then loosen and disintegrate after flushed so that they work their way through septic systems without getting stuck. To be absolutely certain, we had our product tested by a third party, independent laboratory, and they were shown to be flushable for both municipal and septic treatment systems. Because our wipes are made of 100% natural materials, they will simply biodegrade. So when you’re in a pinch, you can flush them down guilt-free, without the fatberg monster showing up to haunt your dreams… or your septic.