“Flushable” Wet Wipes: A Pain for Your Drains!

hand dropping wet wipe down toilet

You can find them in any supermarket — but are “flushable wet wipes” really suitable for your drains? In this blog, we are exploring what “flushable” actually means, and how you can avoid a costly drainage disaster.

Are Wet Wipes Ever “Flushable”?

First of all, there are no legal or industry-standard definitions for the properties of a “flushable” wipe! They do not have to meet a certain threshold of dissolvability, nor do they have to break down in a specific time period. This means that the products that you are purchasing with the best of intentions might actually be wreaking havoc in your plumbing. Just recently, a 35-tonne fatberg consisting of wet wipes and other waste was removed from an east London sewer (that’s the size of three double-decker buses!). The simple answer is no — “flushable” wipes have no place in your pipes.

So… Why Are They Labelled “Flushable”?

Most “flushable” wipes will break down at least a little when exposed to water for a long time, but their mass is still too much for conventional plumbing and they tend to clump together and form blockages in key parts of the sewage system. Toilet paper, on the other hand, disintegrates into pulp that can easily fit wherever water flows.

What Should You Do?

You do not have to stop using wipes — some people prefer them, and they can help to facilitate dignity and independence for a variety of groups from young children to the disabled community. However, any used wet wipes should be disposed of in the bin rather than introduced into your plumbing, no matter how “flushable” the packaging claims that they are!


For more advice on best practices for your drains, you can contact the TWC Draincare team here.

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