By El Duderino
We see it in the news… sewer clogs and overflows being blamed on flushable wipes. This has left some consumers torn between using chafe-inducing sandpaper squares (a.k.a. toilet paper) or use a wet wipe that will supposedly require a to call to a plumber after it’s flushed.
It turns out that all wipes are not made the same. Just like with paper products, there are different wipes, made different ways and with different materials. Asking what makes a wipe flushable or not and whether it’s ok to flush them is something DUDE knows all about.
What Makes a Wipe Flushable?
Moist towelettes have been around since the 1950s and flushable wet wipes were first introduced in the marketplace in the mid-2000s and began to gain popularity.
In 2018, non-woven industry groups INDA and EDANA revised their Fourth Edition Flushability Assessment Guidelines (2018) to clarify which wipes were compatible with wastewater systems. For a wipe to be considered flushable under applicable industry guidelines, there must be evidence that it: (don’t worry, we read the fine print for you…these are the highlights)
- Clears toilets and properly maintained sewer lines when the supplier’s recommended usage instructions are correctly followed
- Passes through properly maintained septic systems and is compatible with wastewater treatment, reuse, and disposal systems without causing system blockage, clogging, or operational problems
- Is unrecognizable in human waste leaving on-site and municipal wastewater treatment systems and undigested sludge from wastewater treatment plants that are applied to soil
So, does that mean all wipes are flushable? Nope.
Here’s some highlights from the Guidelines for Labeling Code of Practice (2018) (“Labeling Code”):
- Only wipes designed to come in contact with human waste and/or related germs while in the bathroom.
- Wipes marketed as “Baby Wipes” should NOT be marketed as flushable, even if they’re able to pass a flushability assessment.
- Non-flushable wipes must have the “Do Not Flush” symbol on packaging
So, what makes the “non-flushable” wipes different? Unlike flushable wipes that are made with short, natural fibers and are intended to breakdown in water like toilet paper, non-flushable wipes are made with long, often synthetic fibers that are intended to be durable and do not disintegrate in water.
Despite this, people still flush all sorts of stuff down their toilets (shocker, right). A 2021 consumer survey of Californians conducted by the Responsible Flushing Alliance found that approximately 60% of respondents admitted to flushing things they know shouldn’t be flushed.
And in 2016, a study found that of items clogging sewers in NYC, flushable wipes made up less than 2% of the collected materials. Things like non-dispersible baby wipes, surface cleaning wipes, condoms and feminine products were some of the biggest culprits.
Left unchecked, these giant clogs of solids can mix with fats, oils, and grease and congeal into a “fatberg,” a cement-like mass of waste that can be miles long and cost millions of dollars to remove.
But fear not, there is hope for people who want to treat their booties and plumbing with equal respect!
At DUDE HQ, we recognize the concerns about keeping water systems safe and clog free. Our wipes meet or exceed the Guidelines and Labeling Code when used as instructed. We have made it our mission to revolutionize the personal care industry with wipes that are nice to your butt, your plumbing, and the environment.
DUDE Wipes are made with 99% water and plant-based fibers that are strong and absorbent during use but begin to break down when flushed. By contrast, many baby wipes contain polyester, plastics, and other synthetic materials that can’t disintegrate in sewer systems. So do not flush baby wipes. Ever.
How to know the difference? Look for the “Do Not Flush” symbol on wipes not intended for the toilet. In the Dudeverse where billions of butts have been wiped, we make sure our wipes meet rigorous flushability guidelines so they can be labeled as flushable. So go ahead dude, flush it!