Why you shouldn’t flush wet wipes down the toilet

Why you shouldn’t flush wet wipes down the toilet

A wet wipe seems like a harmless item to put down the toilet. After all, how much damage can a small sheet made up of cotton and plastic really cause?

Well, more than you may think. When these supposedly ‘flushable’ products accumulate in our pipes it can cause a huge amount of damage to your home and the environment.

Find out about the impact of flushing wet wipes and how to benefit the environment by opting to use eco-friendly alternatives instead.

Can you flush wet wipes?

Wet wipes don’t break up properly in our sewers, but with many manufactures labelling their wipes with the word ‘flushable’, consumers think it is ok to put these products down the toilet.

90% of wipes contain some form of plastic, which is one of the main reasons they don’t disintegrate like toilet paper does. In 2017, a report by Water UK revealed wet wipes contribute to 93% of blockages in the UK.

When wet wipes meet FOGs (fats, oils and grease) that have been poured down the sink, fatbergs are formed. These masses of fat and sanitary items cause blockages.

In fact, we deal with around 13,000 blockages on our network every year at a cost of £5million, with wet wipes and FOGs contributing to the vast majority of them.

The impact of flushing wet wipes

Putting wet wipes down the toilet can have a negative impact on both your home and the environment.

In your home

Flushed wipes will eventually gather in your pipes which will stop your toilet from flushing correctly, potentially resulting in sewage backing up into your home through your toilet.

If the blockage occurs on a section of pipe you are responsible for, it can leave you with an expensive mess to get fixed.

The environment

When heavy rainfall occurs, sewers can overflow and flushed wipes can make their way into rivers, which leads to river and marine pollution.

Once in our waterways, animals consume these products, which can result in them suffocating or starving to death.

A pile of wet wipes that were removed from a drain in Bournemouth.

How can we tackle this problem?

The solution is quite simple, only flush the three Ps – poo, paper and pee. This will help to prevent a countless number of blockages, in addition to reducing the number of wet wipes entering our watercourses.

Wet wipe alternatives

If you’re looking to swap wet wipes out for eco-friendlier alternatives, here are some substitutes you could use instead:

  • Toilet paper spray – spray a little bit of the solution on a piece of toilet paper to achieve the same effect as a wipe.
  • Sponge cloths – instead of using wipes to clean the surfaces in your home, use a sponge cloth and a bit of cleaning product.
  • Reusable makeup pads – use reusable makeup pads to remove your makeup and then just chuck them in the washing machine when you’re done.
  • Flannels – a flannel is a great item to have in your home as it can be used for cleaning, washing and more.
  • Reusable baby wipes – there are loads of great options to choose from and they’re far more cost-effective than buying standard baby wipes.

More information about how to avoid blockages can be found on our blockages page.

Ditch the wet wipes in your bathroom for a bottle of toilet paper spray.

Written by

Tom Thomson

Junior Content Writer

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