Consumer Alert: “Flushable Wipes” are NOT Flushable

Consider this a very important warning if you use flushable moist toilet paper wipes or flushable toddler wipes in your home!  These products will ruin your home’s septic system!  After weeks of issues with our sewage drains and a $325 service call  to the local septic service company (see the pictures below), my family knows about this issue all too well!

Flushable Wipes My A$$: One phone call and a $325 check to my local septic tank service company was "all it took" to take care of my flushable wipe problem! A special thanks to John (my home builder) for also stopping by to check out all the action!

This article is dedicated to eliminating the terms flushable, septic safe, and sewage safe from moist wipe packages being sold in US stores. 

Toilet paper manufacturing companies have been knowingly marketing these products as flushable over the last few years when even the most simple tests demonstrate they are not safe for any septic or sewage system.  These companies receive complaint after complaint from angry consumers who trusted the reassuring labeling on these products, yet they continue to sell these products with no additional warnings on the packages!

Brands such as Charmin Freshmates, Cottonelle Fresh, Scott’s Flushable Wipes and a variety of generic store brands are all responsible for potentially millions of dollars in premature septic system maintenance, repair, and overhauling.

What the Flushable Wipe Packaging Labels Say:

Charmin Freshmates: It says “septic safe” in bold letters right on the package!

Cottonelle Fresh: It says “You can flush Cottenelle Fresh wipes with confidence because they break up like toilet paper after flushing.  They’re safe for sewer and septic systems.”  This is a lie! 

Scott Flushable Wipes: Scott is bold enough to even use the term “flushable” in the product name!  “Flushable wipes are safe for sewer and septic because they break up like paper after flushing“.  More  deception!

Up and Up Toddler Wipes Flushable (Target Generic Brand):  “These flushable moist wipes are alcohol free, and safe for sewers and septic systems.”

What Happened with our Septic System:

We first noticed water seeping out of the newly installed water softener system vent in our our basement.  Our first instinct was to blame the water softener company. After multiple service calls to “correct” the problem, the plumber assured me the water softener system was functioning properly.

Our next step was to consult with the plumber who helped build our home.  He checked the lines and assured us that everything look good and suggested we contacted the local septic company to inspect our system. 

This Crap Sucks: Here I am digging up the access covers on my home's septic system in my fancy bib overalls!

Following our plumber’s advice, we immediately called the local service company to inspect our septic system. 

I explained that our house was just over three years old but water was backing up in our sewage line and seeping out of a vent in our basement.  We made arrangements to meet the septic tank technician the next day.

In order to access the septic tank covers I needed to waste an otherwise beautiful day digging holes in my lawn. 

Following the instructions from the septic guy, I needed to dig up all three covers on my septic tank including the inlet, outlet, and clean-out covers. 

Additionally, we would need access to the septic tank filter to ensure that it had not been clogged up.

The three covers on my home's septic tank. You can see the channel just below the hole on the right side that became clogged with more than two feet of mushy, fully intact, flushable wipes.

Once I had the covers off the septic tank it was obvious what the problem was!  The “inlet” side of our septic tank (the first chamber that sewage enters after leaving the house) was clogged full with a tw0 foot later of thick, compacted wipes!  This clog prevented liquid inside the tank from flowing as designed.

A closer look at the filter device on the outlet side of my home's sewage tank. Fortunately, the filter can be easily cleaned with a garden hose.

It was a disgusting mess to say the least!  Fortunately, the vacuum system unit on the septic truck was powerful enough to suck all the wipes out and clear up the tank so it would drain and process the sewage properly.

These flushable wipes had also worked their way into the filter unit that is on the outlet side of our sewage tank causing even more problems. 

These filters are great for keeping most items from entering the more “sensitive” areas of your septic system, but if someone in your family is using flushable wipes in your home, you can forget about going 3-5 years between septic tank cleanings!

What if My Home Uses the City’s Sewage System:

If your home is connected to your town or city’s sewage system, its even worse! While you may never need to directly deal with the problem, many towns, cities, and and municipalities have seen a large increase in the amount of preventative maintenance needing to be performed on their sanitation equipment.  Some have already increased their fees either in the form of higher taxes, or increased sewage fees.

If you flush flushable wipes into the public sewage system, you’re helping to cause rate increases for everyone in your town! Just don’t do it!

Use Flushable Wipes at Your Own Risk:

Many people I’ve spoken with have never had a problem with their septic tanks after flushing “flushable” wipes down the toilet!  Having experienced the consequences first hand, I can assure you they will not be used anytime soon in our home!

As Consumer Reports has noted, if moist wipes are an essential part of your family’s hygeine routine it is much safer to simply bag wipes and dispoise of them [properly] in the trash!

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