Flushable wipes may seem like an excellent - and hygienic - addition to your bathroom. But are flushable wipes safe to flush? You'd think so since the package says "flushable," and many major brands tout the safety and ease of flushing these wet wipes down the toilet. Most even claim to be safe for septic systems. But that doesn't make it completely true.
Do flushable wipes clog toilets?
The short answer is yes; you can certainly find yourself with a toilet clogged with wipes. The companies who create flushable wipes often have the results of tests they've performed, videos of flushable wipes being safely flushed, and even plumbers giving their stamp of approval. But that still doesn't mean flushable wipes are a good idea for your pipes. In fact, flushing anything other than toilet paper can increase the risk of plumbing issues.
Understanding the potential issues helps to know exactly how toilet paper works. Toilet paper is created from fibers that dissolve in water. But even toilet paper can have its challenges. You've seen the aisles at the store packed with variety. Toilet paper is available in everything from "plush" to "quilted" to "ultra-soft." What many of these words mean is thickness. The thicker your toilet paper, the longer it takes to dissolve. The thin, one-ply variety is going to dissolve fastest (and cause fewer problems). But the thick, luxurious multi-ply toilet papers will take a lot longer to break down.
You might like the idea (and the feel) of a soft, gentle toilet paper. But to get this feel, lotion or another softening agent is often added to the toilet paper, which makes the break down even more difficult. Lotion or other chemical additives hold the fibers together longer. That can spell trouble for your pipes or septic system.
As you can imagine, if some toilet paper can even have a tough time making it smoothly through your plumbing, flushable wipes are certain to be an issue. Besides causing clogged toilets, they can clump up in your drainpipes before ever making it out to the sewer system, which can mean a big plumbing expense for you. Even if your flushable wipes make it all the way to the sewer system, problems can pile up there. That means bigger issues for everyone.
What if you accidentally flushed wipes down the toilet?
If you've decided to stick with toilet paper only (the right choice), there is always the possibility of accidentally tossing something you shouldn't in the toilet. Kids are notorious for this. If you accidentally throw a wipe in the toilet, you can fish it out. A wire hanger can work well for this if you don't have anything else around. If you accidentally flushed wipes down the toilet, there's not much you can do about it besides remember not to do it again.
If you do end up with a toilet clog, start with a hand-held plunger. Be sure to place it properly over the hole and press up and down several times to clear the clog. Start slow and be gentle and work up to vigorous plunges. If that doesn't work, you can try a plumbing snake or auger. However, it is important to know exactly how to operate one because using it incorrectly can actually damage your pipes. The last thing you want to do when you have plumbing problems is to create even more issues!
The most beneficial thing that you can do is call a professional plumber to take care of your clogs, and then once everything is clear, keep everything but toilet paper out of your toilet. You can contact us at Stahl Plumbing today for any of your plumbing needs.