The Truth Behind Flushable Wipes

Flushable Wipes

Flushable Wipes Convenience or Catastrophe?

Since there is no governmental regulation about what the term ‘flushable’ really means, how is a consumer to know if a so-called flushable wipe is really safe? After all, flushable could simply mean that it is able to be flushed. If that’s the case, most sets of car keys are technically flushable. Ask any parent of a 2 year old! The best way to find out if wipes are really able to be broken down after being flushed is to look at the utilities that are responsible for treating the water that comes into their plants after it’s flushed along with these wipes.

Most wastewater treatment plants struggle to treat the water that comes in when flushable wipes have been used. According to the claims of the manufacturers, most of the wipes begin the process of breaking down within 30-60 minutes of being flushed, but they require agitation to do so. The problem is, in the sewers, the only agitation is the water flowing through the pipes. There is not anything that’s going to churn the water enough to really get these fabrics to break down. In a septic tank, there is even less agitation, meaning that a good number of the wipes never break down completely.

This process leaves these wipes coating some of the pipes that they are trying to be flushed through, and that leads to clogged pipes and even less breakdown of the wipe itself. The more of these wipes that come into the collection system, the more the wastewater treatment plants struggle to get the water clean without getting their machinery clogged up with wipes. The cost of keeping the machines free of these wipes is growing along with the flushable product industry. The more consumers are using these wipes, the higher the costs are going to be to get wastewater treated, which will eventually trickle down to the consumers with higher water utility costs.