Most flushable wipes are not flushable

Wet wipes can be used for a huge variety of applications from wiping a baby’s bottom or cleaning the BBQ to removing make-up and cleaning the smudges from reading glasses. Some would say they’re the epitome of our modern, lazy and convenience obsessed society.

However, if you’ve ever been caught out in a situation many parents experience, be it half way through the Ikea maze, a nice restaurant dinner or your mother-in-law’s spotless house, with runny baby poo coming out the arm holes of the latest in designer babywear as your gorgeous bundle of joy manages freakish levels of gross motor skill for a 1 month old by getting the mush into his ears, hair and mouth, you will quickly see the benefits of the wet wipe.

Most ‘flushable’ toilet wipes are not flushable

Wet wipes are many things. One very important thing they are not is flushable. Despite many brands claiming their ‘cleansing cloths’ or ‘toilet cleaning’ wipes are flushable sewers across the world clog up every day with flushed wipes.

Earlier this year London experienced two significant ‘fatburgs’. The first was a 15 tonne mass of fat, oil and wipes, if not removed promptly could’ve caused raw sewage to spill from manholes across the suburb. The second clocked in at a massive 40 metres long reducing the metre wide drain to only 5% flow. One London water company dealt with up to 200,000 blockages in just 5 years, of which 18,000 resulted in sewage flooded homes.

The trouble is wet wipes don’t break down. Many brands actually contain antibacterial alcohol solutions which kill off the bacteria and enzymes which break down waste in landfills meaning even if you throw the wipes in the bin they will stay at the dump for years. What hope have they in the sewers?

London is not alone with it’s wet wipe issue. Recent reports from towns and cities across Australia are that wet wipes are becoming a very costly and laborious problem for this country too.

Brisbane’s blocked drain problems

Brisbane drains continue to get clogged with apparently ‘flushable’ wet wipes. Queensland Urban Utilities removes around 120 tonnes of wipes from the south-east Queensland sewer systems each year. Removing these wet wipe and grease ‘fatburgs’ from our systems can involve digging up major infrastructure and cost millions. A cost which will ultimately be passed on to Brisbane residents.

The US is campaigning to remove the ‘flushable’ labelling from products unsuitable to go down the drain. It is hoped the Australia will follow suit.

Fallon Solutions plumbing team are called to clear blocked drains in homes across the city every week which are obstructed with wet wipes. To keep your home’s drains and sewer pipes clear we recommend you throw all wet wipes in the rubbish bin, even those labelled as ‘flushable’.

In the mean time here’s a list of what you can and can’t flush.

Avoiding blocked drains tips