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CVSan: Flushable Wipes Clog Sewers; Don’t Flush Them!

The only truly flushable paper product is toilet paper. Other products might say they’re flushable, but they aren’t!

Americans love disposable items, and one item that has really caught our fancy are disposable wipes that are supposed to be flushable. What a great concept! No fuss, little mess, and drop the used wipe right into the toilet to send it on its way!

There’s only one problem: These wipes don’t actually dissolve in the sewer. They float intact down the line into our pumps and clog them, resulting in expensive extra hours of maintenance and repair. If the clog is bad enough, an overflow will result, because we cannot stop the flow of wastewater from homes and businesses.

So, joins a number of our fellow sanitation districts in calling on our residents to stop flushing “flushable” items down the drain.

Keep everything but toilet paper out of the sewer.

Our sewers are designed to dispose of three very specific things: Water, toilet paper and human waste. Anything else must go in the trash. Just because the package says “flushable” or “septic safe” doesn’t actually mean it is.

There are no state or federal standards for flushability, and tests have shown that “flushable” wipes do not degrade readily like toilet paper. In fact, they can take up to eight days to dissolve, which makes their flushability claim useless, because we can’t wait eight days to remove wastewater from Castro Valley!

Would you put a paper towel down the drain?

Paper towels dissolve faster than so-called flushable wipes, yet most of us know not to flush paper towels down the drain. Paper towels and other wipes are made of paper, and will dissolve in water, just like toilet paper.

The difference is that paper towels and other wipes are made of higher quality wood pulp, which makes it tough enough to usefully help you clean.

As a result, flushed paper towels and other modern cleaning “wipes” don’t dissolve quickly and will accumulate in your pipes, especially when tree roots are in the way (which they often are in older sewer lines.) This could result in an unnecessary and costly visit from your local plumber.

So, train yourself and your family to keep any item aside from toilet paper out of the sewer line.

These items should never be flushed:

  • Diapers (cloth, disposable or “flushable”)
  • Baby wipes and facial cloths
  • Toilet bowl scrub pads
  • Disposable mops
  • Sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms
  • Rags and cloths
  • Underwear
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Cotton swabs, cotton balls and bandages
  • Dental floss

Our advice?   

  • Avoid purchasing “flushable” items. Not only are they not truly flushable, but they take a long time to degrade in landfills.
  • Give up a little convenience and clean your home with sponges or rags that you can reuse, and wash your kids with reusable wash cloths.
  • If you must purchase “flushable” items, never flush them! Toss them out in the garbage.

Remember: The only truly flushable paper product is toilet paper. Other products might say they’re flushable, but they aren’t!

David Ross June 15, 2012 at 02:13 PM
As usual, the agency says "tests have shown" yet they do not give any reference to where a person can read these tests or even who conducted the tests. Any reason why you don't give a reference

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