Flushable Wipes and the Sewer system

jasdipDecember 3, 2012

I just get so mad when I see commercials of cleaning wipes that just get flushed. What's wrong with a sponge and a rag for cleaning? Everything from Swiffer to flushable wipes is advertised.

There was an article in our paper last week about the city workers having to unclog plugged pipes in the city water treatment facility.

"Dechert and his colleagues said that disinfectant wipes or moist towelettes are by far the biggest problem because unlike toilet paper or paper towel that disintegrates, the thick wipes remain solid.

With thousands of those wipes clogging the system, the feminine hygiene products and some surprising household items---from toys to clothing--- just add to problem.

"The wipes, they don't break up at all. We can sometimes unravel them and still see the flower pattern on them and everything,"

People don't care what happens when they flush them down the toilet. Out of sight, out of mind.

Why wouldn't manufacturers do thorough testing to make sure they dissolve?

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I can't believe those commercials either. I don't put anything down my toilet but toilet paper that says septic tank friendly on the package even though I don't have a septic tank.

The area I live is notorious for sewer back up, city storm sewers overflow and back up into the sewer systems and then tree roots. Sometimes twice a year we have to get the lines cleared out.

Years ago I used to have this wizened old guy who looked like Popeye come in and eel the sewer lines out before I knew the City would do it for free. Andy was a wealth of knowledge. He asked me what type of toilet paper I was using (back then it was a thicker premium brand) Andy asked me to bring a roll down to him. He wet the toilet paper and showed me how it swelled up, formed a paste and did not disintegrate. He told me never to buy that toilet paper again. He then went out to his truck and showed me a thinner roll of toilet paper that as soon as he wet it, the paper broke up. He then informed me it was toilet paper that was septic tank friendly. He said only buy that type of paper and from that day forward that is exactly what I did. I buy Signal-12 double rolls at Freshco for $3.84 or White Swan from Costco

He also showed me how to attach a knee high to my washing machine's drain pipe that drains into the laundry tub so it will catch any lint or pet hair. He told me that pet hair really coats and clogs sewer pipes. Now when the City guys come down my basement where my clean out is one of them always comments on the stocking hanging from in the laundry tub. They say they give that tip to so many homeowners but not many of them take that advice. I am always amazed at how much lint and hair this stocking catches so it doesn't go down my drain.

I don't even put Kleenex down my toilet because it doesn't break down, and sometimes I have used those disposable toilet cleaning pads that you put on a stick but I disposed of them in a plastic bag and did not flush them. Even hair from my brush - when I was a teenager I would flush it down the toilet until my Dad caught me doing that. Never again LOL

Because of Andy I have told everyone in this neighbourhood I know about the thick toilet paper and everyone has switched to the brands that won't clog sewer systems.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 1:55PM
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Mom got her toilet replaced, and the plumber told her the exact same thing about Kleenex not dissolving, Anne.
She was stunned.....she always flushed her kleenex down the toilet.

I'm amazed at the people that think they can (and they do) flush clumping kitty litter!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Plumbers know there are only three things that a toilet is meant to handle. The third thing is basic, plain, toilet paper.

All those 'use and toss' products are just more landfill -- and evidently sanitary system no-no's too.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:06PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

I will tell you of a very simple test to see for your self what will break down and not break down and you bet kleenex do NOT break down. We started doing this to test what is safe to us in the RV toilets.

Take a glass jar fill it half full of water take a few sheets of your toilet paper and put in in there whole. Shake the jar really hard for a few minutes, you will see what looks like a snow globe because the TP broke down.
Do the same exact test with a kleenex and it does not matter how violently you shake that jar it comes out the same way it goes in.
Any of those disposable wipes if I were to use them go into the trash can. We do have a septic tank and system and having it back up is no fun.

here is the youtube of what happens when you do the test on the paper in the jar with water.
HOW TO: Test for RV-Safe Toilet Paper

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:18PM
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Well, I certainly feel better. Both my Kirkland brand and recycled Cascades instantly turned the water cloudy with specs of paper in 2 seconds. I will keep buying these with confidence!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 3:31PM
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Same game for septic systems.

Pumping them out gets rather expensive.

I don't know when the septic tank was last pumped during uncle's regime, but it's been eight years since his passing and no need to pump, yet.

Any comment that I just might be full of it ... would be rejected as unproven, undocumented, unrequested (and unnecessry) verbiage.

o j

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Yes, even those 'butt-wipes' as my friend's grandson calls them, that claim to be flushable are not, according to my plumber.

He also asked about what brand of toilet paper I use and when I told him Cottonelle he said that was fine. (I have no connections whatsoever with Cottonelle, by the way.)

It can get expenseive, and I have tree roots that seem to be attracted to my sewer lines also.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 10:50AM
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We have a cesspool, no sewers exist in my town. Every so often, at odd intervals (once a year for several years, then good for 20 years), my cesspool "fills up" and has to be dug up and pumped out. Always seems to happen around a holiday. I'll switch to Cottonelle. One thing we do is limit showers to one a day, and I take my laundry to a local laundromat.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 11:21AM
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The toilet paper in question that Andy tested at my house was Cottonelle, unless they changed their paper that is one paper I wouldn't even attempt to put down my toilet. That brand is the one that formed a thick paste and coated the sewer pipe. Who knows maybe they changed but that is one brand I would never buy or use for this house

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 9:38PM
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We have a septic system and we use only one kind...Scott Single ply....and the same thing in the RV...We also have a rule here about what is allowed to be flushed and my husband makes sure that "I" tell everyone exactly what they can and cannot flush...especially the girls.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 10:29PM
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Looks like one of those "snakes" for toilet use would be in order for some folks here!(1)

Actually ... one unit could serve about 100 houses (or more) without being so much in demand that one or two might have to wait in line.

Find yourself a hundred or so friends .. including one who lives on a farm with an old barn or a shed or two who could store it between uses.

Everyone could make a list to put on the fridge .. of where the snake was stored, with name and phone number ... same with generator for a half dozen (or more) folks could use in case of power outage.

Often, when power is out over a wide area, many are not going to work, so the generator could be hauled from house to house for, say, three hours usage each out of the 24 hours, to keep the food intact in the freezer, etc.

Some time when you have some time on your hands (do you commute ... for a half hour or so?) you could spend some time thinking of what other items that many families need once in a blue moon that could be owned co-operatively, rather than each one getting one's own.

Hi Jasdip ... in your OP, you referred to the newspaper article about the city employee giving advice about reducing their problems in unclogging the city water treatment facility. Do I assume that you spoke correctly, as many municipalities are seeking ways to process sewage so that it regains its purity (well, "drinkability") ... or could it have been the city sewage treatment facility?

I think that I heard some years ago that each glass of water out of the Hudson River near lower Manhattan had been processed about six times.

Hope you're all having a great, no-complicated-flushing (as in "no overflow") week, everyone!

ole joyful

1. I bought a snake for toilets at the church garage sale last year ... for about a quarter, I think.

Remember the ad for Bon Ami cleanser that had the freshly-hatched chick on the label, with the slogan, " ... hasn't scratched yet"? Well my snake hasn't been used yet! Guess I should put a note about its availability (on "loan ... or "rental"?) on the church bulletin board.

o j

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 3:37PM
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