But some experts say the wipes, arguably the supply that’s been used to clean surfaces in homes the most, are harming sewers.
Why? Because people are flushing wipes down toilets, rather than dumping them in the trash.
Now, public agencies around the nation are urging people to solely throw their wipes in the trash, warning that not doing so could cause blockages and damage to sewer systems.
Facilities across California have already reported issues with their sewer collection systems, the state’s Water Resources Control Board said.
Many cities in California use centralized sewage collection systems that rely on gravity and water flow to move along waste, according to regulators. Toilet paper dissolves in those systems, where as wipes and paper towels don’t break down so easily.
Not even ‘flushable’ wipes are safe, some officials say
Many wipes are made of synthetic materials. These materials, when combined with other personal hygiene products that are flushed and grease that is poured down drains, create what waste workers refer to as “fatbergs” in sewers.
“When a product is labeled ‘flushable’ it generally means that it will clear your toilet bowl,” the department states on its website. “It does not mean it will definitely clear your pipes or break down in the sewer system or at a wastewater treatment plant.”
- Break into small pieces quickly.
- Not be buoyant.
- Only contain ingredients that will readily degrade in natural environments.
But because people often flush all kind of wipes, it’s hard to determine whether “flushable wipes” are indeed safe.
Given the concerns of many wastewater treatment plants at the moment, it’s probably wise to heed this advice: Save your pipes. Don’t flush wipes.