Woman flushes baby wipes

Can You Flush Baby Wipes Down a Toilet?

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Leslie

November 23, 2021

Contrary to popular belief, baby wipes and other similar items – such as makeup removal wipes and regular wet wipes – are not flushable. Due to the fact that they break down in a way that is quite different than that of toilet paper, baby wipes can cause major blockages and clogs when they’re flushed.

In other words, they can cause severe damage to your plumbing system and force you to pay a lot of money for the repairs. Are you really willing to take this risk?

To avoid sewer system issues, it is vital to refrain from disposing of baby wipes and similar items down the toilet. Another crucial thing to mention here is that regular maintenance is just as important. The solution to costly sewer-related issues can be as simple as doing occasional drain cleaning.

So, can you flush baby wipes down a toilet? The short answer is no. Here’s why the only things you should flush down your toilet are human waste/toilet paper and not baby wipes:

Baby Wipes Can Get Caught on a Bend or Snag in the Pipe

Man flushing baby wipes

One thing most people don’t know about is that the pipes connecting toilets to the septic tank aren’t really straight. Before making a connection, these pipes usually turn several times, making bends. It is precisely at these bending points where pipes are the smallest and most vulnerable to clogging.

Here’s a list of items that people tend to flush the most:

  • Baby wipes
  • “Flushable” wet wipes
  • Facial tissue
  • Paper towels
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Tampons

Keep in mind that your toilet bowl should not be treated as a garbage bin. Anything that isn’t toilet paper (or numbers #1 and #2, of course) should never be flushed down the toilet.

Baby Wipes Tend to Clump Together and Cause a Clog

The Myth

As long as you’re flushing one baby wipe at a time, you’re good to go.

The Fact

Even a single baby wipe can easily cause a toilet clog. Items such as these are notorious for their ability to create large balls by clumping together. Usually called “fatbergs”, these balls tend to get stuck somewhere in the pipework. Depending on the location and severity of the clog, you may need to hire an expert to deal with it.

These kinds of clogs often take place in sanitation plants, too. Companies remove and take away tons upon tons of debris consisting of wipes and similar items. If a clog is really bad, it can easily damage the equipment, which will then require repair or replacement. This results in hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer expenses, as well as in downtime.

So, if your toilet isn’t flushing properly, it might be because of a partial clog caused by baby wipes.

Baby Wipes Break Down Differently Than Toilet Paper

Woman holds wet wipes

The Myth

Since both toilet paper and baby wipes serve pretty much the same purpose, they break in the exact same way. Right?

The Fact

When it’s submerged, toilet paper breaks apart – it was designed to dissolve in water. There are strict standards that all manufacturers of toilet paper have to follow, i.e. their products have to dissolve in water in a set amount of time. However, not all hygiene products are subject to these standards, with one of them being baby wipes.

Since they’re far more fibrous than toilet paper, baby wipes take more time to dissolve in water. That is, if they dissolve at all. After all, they’re made out of a material that is more durable and cloth-like. That’s precisely why, when submerged, a baby wipe holds together for much longer.

While this makes them ideal for cleaning, it also turns them into major problem-causers when they end up in the waste removal systems. Due to their durability, baby wipes can even cause severe issues in the toilet itself. This often leads to costly repairs.

Baby Wipes Jam Pumps, Filters, and Vents

The Myth

The package says that these baby wipes are flushable, which must mean that they move through the sewage system without causing any issues.

The Fact

Regardless of the type of your toilet flush system, baby wipes can and often jam ventilation pipes and equipment. Even the so-called “flushable” baby wipes are more than capable of doing this. This term was first used for disposable wipes. However, neither those nor the “flushable” baby wipes were ever really tested for flushability by actual sanitation experts and plumbers.

Let’s be honest – some of these baby wipes do dissolve over time. However, in most cases, they don’t actually do that before they reach the sanitation facility. There, they immediately become clumped together with all sorts of other debris, forcing workers to go inside and deal with the clog. Such repairs cost large cities tens of millions of dollars every year. Wouldn’t you want your tax dollars to be spent on something else?

Okay, so you can’t flush baby wipes, but can you flush pills down the toilet? The answer is not so straightforward. And what about hair, can you flush hair down the toilet?

The Conclusion

Don't flush wet wipes sign

While flushing baby wipes may seem like the easiest and quickest solution, such an action can easily cause a number of plumbing problems and put an unnecessary financial burden on your shoulders. The best way to get rid of used baby wipes is to simply throw them into the trash, along with regular wet wipes and similar hygiene products.

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