Right now, you’re probably using a lot of cleansing wipes to sanitize surfaces, including your cell phone and hands! But be careful not to flush them down the toilet.
Not everyone is aware that flushing cleansing/disinfectant wipes is a bad idea, because some brands are labeled as “flushable.” Or you may have heard that some brands that are thinner and less stringy are safe to flush down the toilet.
But just because it says it’s “flushable” or “septic safe,” that doesn’t make it true!
In fact, there have actually been lawsuits against cleansing wipes companies that marketed themselves this way … and then their wipes blocked sewers and even caused a mucky mess in bathrooms!
Before we go any further, though, we want to mention that it is a good idea to use disinfectant wipes, and we don’t want anyone to feel like we are discouraging it! Many of these wipes have been proven to kill very strong viruses like hepatitis A, and many of them are also on a list compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
So, yes, in short, you should be using disinfectant wipes for their intended purpose, and especially those that have EPA registration numbers on their product labels. But, no matter what else it says on the label, you should not be flushing them down your toilet!
So, what usually happens when you flush wipes down the toilet?
(And what if you only did it once?)
The problem is, they aren’t really biodegradable, and they usually get stuck somewhere in the drain. Of course, the risk of a clog gets worse the more times you flush wipes. Once one wipe is stuck in the pipes, more will get stuck, making a ball that turns into a clog.
And, even worse, if the wipes got stuck further down in your drainage system, then it may clog other drains, and not just back up your toilet. Your tubs and sinks could back up also!
Is this clog something you can remove yourself? Probably not, because of how far down the wipes are probably stuck. It’s not like a toddler flushing a toy down the toilet, where you may be able to snake it out quite easily.
What about a Liquid Drain Cleaner?
No, no, no! Please, avoid it all together, as it is a major corrosion risk. It can crack the toilet’s porcelain, or warp the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes.
In fact, even pouring boiling water down the toilet can warp the PVC, because if the boiling water doesn’t clear out the clog, then you’ve got boiling water stuck for a long time in the pipe.
Some people will recommend using baking soda and vinegar to clear a clogged toilet, but the problem with that is, you don’t know if it’s completely removed the clog or not. Thus, you’re still vulnerable to the clog rebuilding. Even if you never flush a wet wipe down the toilet again!
Instead, you should just have one of our expert plumbers come out and take a look at the problem for you. We use a snake and attach it to a camera, so we can see exactly where the clog is. Our solutions are strong enough to get rid of clogs, but not so strong as to cause damage to your pipes.
And, please, don’t flush anything down your toilet again except toilet paper and … well, you know the #1 and #2 other answers!