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How Bad for Plumbing Are Disposable Wipes?


Are disposable wipes bad for plumbing? Is the sky blue? While the subject of flushable toilet wipes may not join America’s canon of rhetorical questions anytime soon, to plumbers and sewer treatment personnel, the answers here are equally obvious. Disposable wipes are designed to get past your toilet, but that’s where the bigger problems can start—in your home’s main sewer drain and at the city’s treatment facility. And don’t even think about flushing down regular baby wipes or household cleaning wipes.

If you browse plumbing industry chat rooms online (which makes for a great night in, by the way), you’ll see that the word “softball” comes up a lot in describing clogs created by dozens of disposable wipes. Due to the extra time involved, extracting these plugs from home drain pipes can be very costly. And it’s not just house drains that are getting clogged. Many cities report significant increases in sewage system clogs and maintenance costs related to flushable wipes and recommend that residents keep them out of the toilet. The city of Raleigh, NC has made it illegal to flush the wipes, placing them high on their list of “debris” that makes up the largest category of backups for their sewage systems.