3 Surprising Facts About How Baby Wipes Are Destroying Our Sewers


The world’s sewers are facing a serious and growing threat — from baby wipes. Manufacturers are increasingly marketing new wipes as “flushable,” but it turns out that these new versions cause just as many plumbing problems as traditional wipes.

1. Wipes Cause Serious Damage to Sewer Systems

When you flush a baby wipe down your toilet, a pipe carries it out of your house and into the public sewage system. The public system uses large pumps to keep all of the sewage moving, flowing away from homes and toward a wastewater processing plant. Because wipes don’t disintegrate like toilet paper, they clog these pumps, which can cause them to fail. This allows raw sewage to stagnate and back up into houses, leaving homeowners to deal with the mess.

2. The Costs of Wipe-Related Damage Fall Upon Taxpayers

When baby wipes clog public sewage pumps, sewer authorities must shut the sewer system down completely to manually remove and clear the pumps. In many cases, the strain from the clog causes the pump to burn out, requiring repair or replacement. Taxpayers must foot the bill for repairing and replacing pumps, along with the cost of manpower to constantly remove clogs.

3. “Flushable” Doesn’t Mean “Safe To Flush”

There are currently no government regulations that pertain to the word “flushable.” The wet wipes industry has its own guidelines and tests for what’s considered “flushable.” For example, to pass the “slosh box” test, a wipe must break down into dime-sized pieces after being shaken in a container of water for three hours. These tests, however, don’t mirror the conditions of a sewer system, in which it takes just minutes after flushing for a wipe to reach a pump.

Never flush baby wipes down your toilet, even if they’re labeled “flushable.” Doing so could result in clogs, backups, and potentially costly plumbing repair for you, and create serious sewage system problems for everyone else.

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