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To flush… or not to flush… that is the question!

Are Flushable Wipes Safe For Septic Systems?Disposable wet wipes marketed as “flushable” and “septic-safe” have many uses, such as personal hygiene, baby care and household cleaning. In recent years, these wipes have emerged as a toilet paper substitute. But you may have wondered whether or not these wet wipes are actually flushable. Given that septic systems are both vital in function and sensitive to what gets put in them, these are valid concerns. Over the years, cases have come up where the answer to the question “are flushable wipes safe?” Turns out the answer is NO, especially if you rely on a septic system.

Even though these wipes do eventually break down, they take much longer to do so compared to toilet paper. Since the breakdown of wet wipes is not as rapid, clogged pipes and blockages occur more frequently. This puts your home’s plumbing at risk for serious clogs and could result in added hassle, mess and expense for you.


What Do They Mean by “Flushable”

The use of the term “flushable” seems to be a loophole term that can be taken in two different ways. One can describe something as flushable simply because it can physically be flushed down the toilet, but another definition would specify items that can be flushed and then will not cause plumbing issues. Wet wipes generally fit the first usage, allowing companies to get away with calling their wipes flushable.


Breaking It Down

Ragging can be defined as the accumulation of intact flushables on sewer defects such as rootsAfter these “flushable” wipes are flushed, they can get caught up with other items that are currently in your sewer line. Thick toilet paper, paper towels, sanitary pads, cotton swabs, dental floss and toilet cleaning pads are all commonly flushed items that contribute to clogs and backups. The combination of these items with wet wipes will create a mess of a blockage known as “ragging”. Ragging can be defined as the accumulation of intact flushables on sewer defects such as roots, improperly constructed lateral connections or other obstructions.

Wipes have the potential to plug the sewer line between the house and tank and build up at the inlet of the septic tank and cause the septic to back up into the house. The vast majority of the wipes remain intact after flushing and ultimately result in ragging. The trapped flushable in turn can accumulate fats, oils and grease which can lead to blockages.


Just Don’t Do It

While companies will insist that their cleaning wipes actually are, we absolutely do not recommend flushing them. Disposable wipes have been proven to be the culprit in septic failures in our experience. Aging pipes and infrastructure, as well as the presence of other almost-flushable materials, allows “flushable” wipes to grow into a serious issue. When a blockage does occur, the costs of cleaning, repair and further maintenance can be considerable; however, they’re costs that can also be avoided. Overall, it may be wise to skip the flushable wipes and stick to toilet paper or at least throw them away instead of flushing them.


Get Help for Plumbing Woes

Be mindful of what you put down your drain or in your toilet. Depending on your household size and the size of your tank, it is a good idea to have your system pumped out every 2-3 years.

At West Coast Sanitation, we know that you don’t have time to deal with septic problems. If you think that your system has reached capacity, please give us a call at (951) 780-5922 right away. We have professionals ready to answer your questions and get your system working properly again.