What are the Alternatives to Flushable Wipes?

Wipes for use in the bathroom that are considered flushable
Flushable wipes in a pink and orange package with the Supeck Septic Services lovo.

In a previous blog we discussed those supposed “flushable” wipes.  We don’t recommend them if you have a public sewer or a septic system. There are so many reasons including the fact that they don’t break down the same way that toilet paper does.  In public sewers, they are often the main cause of breaks in the water treatment plants. 

According to the US EPA, wet wipes, or “flushable” wipes, do not break down in sewer or septic systems and can damage your home’s internal plumbing as well as local wastewater collection systems. In some tests, wet wipes barely began to break down after 35 minutes of rapid agitation. In fact, flushable wipes remain intact within drain pipes even after months of being flushed.

Water Treatment plant seen from air that is often clogged with flushable wipes.

In two 1-day collection studies in New York and Florida, only about 1% of sewer debris was flushable wipes, but respectively 29.1% and 37% were non-flushable baby wipes. The US EPA says that flushing these wipes can clog your toilet and/or create sewage backups in your home or your neighborhood.

Outside of Your Home’s Plumbing, Flushable Wipes Can Continue to be a BIG Problem.

  • Wet wipes can clog up the discharge pipes in the public sewer.
  • Wipes can carry bubbles of air into the system, increasing the risk of cavitation.
  • Additional friction is added to the septic system and can cause erosion.
  • Waste can leak from the sewers causing health, safety, and environmental hazards.
  • Flushable Wipes have even been found to back up sewer lines of entire neighborhoods leading to backups into homes and businesses.

Thus, flushable wipes are not just a septic system problem, they are a major environmental problem no matter what type of system you are using.

Alternatives to Flushable Wipes

If you can’t use the “flushable” wipes what are the alternatives that are septic-safe? There are several alternatives to flushable wipes.

Liquid Wipes or Toilet Foam

A newer option is to use regular toilet paper with the addition of a spray or foam cleaning solution.  The benefit of this option is that you are using toilet paper, that is already going to break down in your septic system as it was designed to do.  Adding foam or spray to that paper can help you achieve better cleanliness than paper alone.

These “flushable wipe” alternatives are now available in most retail stores in the same aisles as toilet paper. Often, they are similar in price to wipes.  Or you can shop on Amazon for even more eco-friendly alternatives.

The Bidet

Bidets are attached to or incorporated within a toilet. The basic design consists of a bowl-shaped basin connected to a water supply and drain with a nozzle that sprays water for personal hygiene. Some bidets clean only with the stream of water, while other bidets’ basins are meant to be filled up and used by hand.

Bidets are popular with men and women both. However, bidets haven’t caught on in the US because bathrooms aren’t built for them, and most Americans grew up using toilet paper.

However, there is a newer option available for American households that allow you to retrofit a bidet attachment to your standard toilet.  These options vary from a detached spray nozzle to an entire seat that heats your derriere and sprays an array of heated water and then dries your bum eliminating your need for paper products altogether.  You can look at some of the options on Amazon HERE.

Reusable Washcloths

You can also use washcloths or reusable cloth wipes that can be washed and reused. Like cloth diapers, they can be an eco-friendly alternative to flushing questionable products down into your toilet.  While this option requires that you store dirty wipes somewhere until you have enough to run a wash, you should also consider the product you use to clean them.  If the product contains a lot of chemicals, that may also affect your septic system.  To read more on this please see our previous blog HERE.

Conclusion:

No matter what your choice, it’s important to note that even if a wipe is labeled as “flushable,” it can still cause clogs and damage to the entire system. Therefore, it’s generally recommended to avoid flushing any type of wipe and dispose of them in the trash instead. The pros at Supeck Septic Services are here to help you and answer your questions feel free to contact us anytime!

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