Wet wipes, long used for baby care, have grown popular with adults. Some of the products are labeled as “flushable” — a characterization contested by wastewater officials. Flushable wipes are marketed in a variety of ways, such as “breaks down like toilet paper” and “safe for sewer and septic.”
The problem is that they appear to take longer to break down when compared to traditional toilet paper, and as a result have caused major blockages in sewer systems. Wet wipes, which do not disintegrate the way traditional toilet paper does, often combine with other materials, like congealed grease, which can clog and damage plumbing. Wipes that clog pipes can lead to blockages that can cause sewage overflow into basements or streams.
If you swill a piece of toilet roll around in some water, it takes seconds for it to disintegrate. Try the same thing with a wet wipe.
In addition to wipes, there are also other cleaning products that are labeled as “flushable” which may go down the toilet but they are not breaking down sufficiently enough. This has led to clogged pipes and jammed pumps in sewer systems across the country.
If you are concerned about whether flushable products are causing a problem to your system, stop flushing the items in question. Instead, bag them and place them in your garbage for collection. When in doubt, just because an item says it can be flushed doesn’t mean it should be.