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Is it ok to flush baby wipes or wet wipes down the toilet?
This article explains why you should never flush fabrics or any kind into the toilet, including disposable wipes, wet wipes, baby wipes, sanitary napkins, nor dryer sheets.
We include recommended methods for disposing of these products.
This article series includes a list of chemicals, objects, and trash items that it would be should NEVER be flushed down a toilet Cat litter, dryer sheets, disposable diapers, drugs, coffee grounds, & lots of other stuff should not go into the septic tank nor down a drain into a public sewer.
Disposable Wet Wipes are Not Recommended for Flushing Into Toilets
Watch out: Do not flush "disposable" wet wipes, baby wipes, clothes dryer sheets, sanitary napkins, nor any cloth or fabric waste into toilets anywhere, regardless of whether the toilet is connected to public sewer or private septic system.
The problem that flushing causes is expensive clogged drains or sewer or piping systems. These products also clog and damage sewer ejector pumps, and can damage or clog many grinder pumps.
Reporting for The New York Times in 2015, Matt Flegenheimer reported that authorities from New York City's sewer system explain that most wet wipes do not decompose or break down in sewer systems and that they are causing costly clogs of the system.
While many disposable wipes are advertised as "flushable" that may be true only that it is physically possible to flush the wipe down the drain. That does not mean that most disposable wipes won't cause trouble in the sewer system or septic system.
The Times article reported that the flushable property of disposable wipes or "wet wipes" as advertised is
"... a characterization contested by wastewater officials and plaintiffs bringing class-action lawsuits against wipes manufacturers for upending their plumbing." - Flegenheimer (2015).
Wet wipe / disposable wipe solutions:
We do not recommend flushing disposable wipes down toilets regardless of whether they are used in care of a baby or used for by adults for personal hygiene.
We recommend using a few squares of dampened toilet tissue instead. This latter approach can be a bit messier but, then, you're supposed to be washing your hands after using the toilet anyway, right?
Alternatively, follow hygiene practices used in many countries outside the U.S. and Canada: dispose of wipes (and toilet paper) in a sanitary trash container kept in the bathroom and maintained for that purpose.
That bagged waste is typically disposed of as garbage and won't enter the plumbing system.
Product that Prevents Flushing Disposable Wipes or "Wet Wipes" Down Toilets
Re-posting an interesting product idea that prevents flushing of "disposable" wipes, baby wipes, sanitary products, cloths down the toilet. This comment, with our expansion to provide more information, was posted originally at TOILET REPAIR GUIDE - home
On 2017-03-24 bmac2014 said:
Stop Wipes And Non-Flushables From Clogging Pipes with The Traptex® Plumbing Protection System.
Excerpting from the company's website: sageproducts.com
The Traptex Guard features small, laser-cut hooks to catch cloths and wipes before they pass into the pipe, while allowing solid waste and toilet paper through. When wipes are caught, they can be safely removed ... [ by a product sold by the company or by other means for those who don't enjoy fishing in the toilet - Ed.]
U.S.A. Sage Products, 3909 Three Oaks Rd., Cary, Illinois 60013 USA, Tel: 1-800-323-2220 Email: GlobalCustomerService@sageproducts.com,
Switzerland, Sage Products International Office, Rue de Candolle, 17, CH-Geneva 1205, Switzerland, Tel: +41 (0) 22 318 60-22
Research on disposable wet wipes & flush-ability
Lee, U-Jin, "Flushability of Wipes Spaws Class-Action Lawsuit", ABC News, (March 2014), - retrieved 15 March 2015, original source: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/flushability-flushable-wipes-spawns-class-action-lawsuit/story?id=22759642
Quoting: New York doctor has filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the makers of "flushable" wipes after experiencing what he claims were major plumbing and clogging issues in his home.
Connection, Plumbing (magazine). "Still Not Flushable", iSUBSCRiBE Pty Ltd, Suite 17, 13 Hickson Road, Dawes Point NSW 2000 Australia - 1300 303 619, Summer 2014: 16,18-19, ISSN 1034-3075, Abstract:
Manufacturers of wipes have done a great job of convincing consumers about the hygienic benefits of their products; however, those labelled as 'flushable' are having devastating effects on sewerage systems across the globe.
"Flushable" Wipes Reportedly Causing Toilet Clogs, Septic Problems, Morgan & Morgan, LLP, - retrieved 15 March 2015, original source: http://www.forthepeople.com/class-action-lawyers/flushable-wipes-lawsuit, Quoting:
The attorneys at Morgan & Morgan are investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of consumers who used flushable wipes and experienced plumbing problems, including toilet clogs.
Although these wipes are often labeled as flushable, biodegradable, and sewer and septic safe, it is believed that some of these products do not actually break down in water and can cause serious plumbing problems.
Reportedly, consumers have spent hundreds of dollars unclogging blocked pipes, while wastewater treatment plants have spent millions repairing and replacing machinery that could not process the wipes.
[This is a personal injury law firm operating in several U.S. states]
"Flushable Wipes Lawsuit", Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik LLP, - retrieved 15 March 2015, - original source: http://www.napolibern.com/Environmental-Litigation/Flushable-Wipes.aspx
Top Class Actions, "U.S. and Canadian Experts Challenge Flushable Wipe Claims", Top Class Actions, - retrieved 15 March 2015, original source: http://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/40302-u-s-and-canadian-experts-challenge-flushable-wipe-claims/
Canada and America are moving toward regulating marketing of “flushable” wipes and setting industry standards for these products, which many individual consumers and wastewater experts allege cause a lot of problems.
Ontario wastewater expert Barry Orr is one Canadian researcher who is spearheading the International Standards Organization’s efforts to outline and enforce flushable wipe standards. He, along with other researchers, is developing flushability tests to vet the marketed sewer and septic safe characteristics of flushable wipe products being sold in North America.
While Canada is leading the charge in regulating the marketing and sale of flushable wipes to better improve water waste, the United States is also addressing this issue, including by pursuing false advertising litigation.
At TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST(live link is at Continue Reading below) we introduce the topic of stuff that should not be flushed down drains and into septic systems, and we explain the sorts of problems that can occur: drain clogging, sewage backups into buildings, costly septic system failure, and environmental contamination
Continue reading atNEVER FLUSH INTO SEPTICS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
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Questions & answers or comments about stuff that should not be flushed down toilet
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Thanks to reader Megan O'Connell for discussion of biodegradable cat litter disposal in septic tanks 04/2009.
"It Blocks Cat Odors And Maybe Radiation - material used in litter is tested in sopping up nuclear contaminants", Andrew Revkin, New York times, 24 February 2000, p. B1. This article describes testing of cat litter used in a trench filled with zeolite (cat litter) to form a wall to intercept radioactive contaminated ground water seeping towards a stream that empties into Lake Erie. The article explains that zeolite is a family of 48 minerals that absorb odors and moisture, found in various brands of "animal litter". The most abundant mineral in the zeolite family is clinoptiloite that has a strong affinity for strontium 90.
Septic Tank/Soil-Absorption Systems: How to Operate & Maintain [ copy on file as /septic/Septic_Operation_USDA.pdf ] - , Equipment Tips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8271 1302, 7100 Engineering, 2300 Recreation, September 1982, web search 08/28/2010, original source: http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/pdfimage/82711302.pdf.
Pennsylvania State Fact Sheets relating to domestic wastewater treatment systems include
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-161, Septic System Failure: Diagnosis and Treatment
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-162, The Soil Media and the Percolation Test
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-l64, Mound Systems for Wastewater Treatment
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-165, Septic Tank-Soil Absorption Systems
Document Sources used for this web page include but are not limited to: Agricultural Fact Sheet #SW-161 "Septic Tank Pumping," by Paul D. Robillard and
Kelli S. Martin. Penn State College of Agriculture - Cooperative Extension, edited and annotated by
Dan Friedman (Thanks: to Bob Mackey for proofreading the original source material.)
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Advanced Onsite Wastewater Systems Technologies, Anish R. Jantrania, Mark A. Gross. Anish Jantrania, Ph.D., P.E., M.B.A., is a Consulting Engineer, in Mechanicsville VA, 804-550-0389 (2006). Outstanding technical reference especially on alternative septic system design alternatives. Written for designers and engineers, this book is not at all easy going for homeowners but is a text I recommend for professionals--DF.
Builder's Guide to Wells and Septic Systems, Woodson, R. Dodge: $ 24.95; MCGRAW HILL B; TP;
Quoting from Amazon's description: For the homebuilder, one mistake in estimating or installing wells and septic systems can cost thousands of dollars. This comprehensive guide filled with case studies can prevent that. Master plumber R. Dodge Woodson packs this reader-friendly guide with guidance and information, including details on new techniques and materials that can economize and expedite jobs and advice on how to avoid mistakes in both estimating and construction. Chapters cover virtually every aspect of wells and septic systems, including on-site evaluations; site limitations; bidding; soil studies, septic designs, and code-related issues; drilled and dug wells, gravel and pipe, chamber-type, and gravity septic systems; pump stations; common problems with well installation; and remedies for poor septic situations. Woodson also discusses ways to increase profits by avoiding cost overruns.
Country Plumbing: Living with a Septic System, Hartigan, Gerry: $ 9.95; ALAN C HOOD & TP;
Quoting an Amazon reviewer's comment, with which we agree--DF:This book is informative as far as it goes and might be most useful for someone with an older system. But it was written in the early 1980s. A lot has changed since then. In particular, the book doesn't cover any of the newer systems that are used more and more nowadays in some parts of the country -- sand mounds, aeration systems, lagoons, etc.
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
US EPA Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual [online copy, free] Top Reference: US EPA's Design Manual for Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal, 1980, available from the US EPA, the US GPO Superintendent of Documents (Pueblo CO), and from the National Small Flows Clearinghouse. Original source http://www.epa.gov/ORD/NRMRL/Pubs/625R00008/625R00008.htm Onsite wastewater treatment and disposal systems,
Richard J Otis, published by the US EPA. Although it's more than 20 years old, this book remains a useful reference for septic system designers.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water Program Operations; Office of Research and Development, Municipal Environmental Research Laboratory; (1980)
"International Private Sewage Disposal Code," 1995, BOCA-708-799-2300, ICBO-310-699-0541, SBCCI 205-591-1853, available from those code associations.
"Manual of Policy, Procedures, and Guidelines for Onsite Sewage Systems," Ontario Reg. 374/81, Part VII of the Environmental
Protection Act (Canada), ISBN 0-7743-7303-2, Ministry of the Environment,135 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto Ontario M4V 1P5 Canada $24. CDN.
Manual of Septic Tank Practice, US Public Health Service's 1959.
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books
Onsite Wastewater Disposal, R. J. Perkins;
Quoting from Amazon: This practical book, co-published with the National Environmental Health Association,
describes the step-by-step procedures needed to avoid common pitfalls in septic system technology.
Valuable in matching the septic system to the site-specific conditions, this useful book will help you install a reliable system in
both suitable and difficult environments. Septic tank installers, planners, state and local regulators, civil and sanitary engineers,
consulting engineers, architects, homeowners, academics, and land developers will find this publication valuable.
Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems, Bennette D. Burks, Mary Margaret Minnis, Hogarth House 1994 - one of the best septic system books around, suffering a bit from small fonts and a weak index. While it contains some material more technical than needed by homeowners, Burks/Minnis book on onsite wastewater treatment systems a very useful reference for both property owners and septic system designers.
Septic Tank/Soil-Absorption Systems: How to Operate & Maintain [ copy on file as /septic/Septic_Operation_USDA.pdf ] - , Equipment Tips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8271 1302, 7100 Engineering, 2300 Recreation, September 1982, web search 08/28/2010, original source: http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/pdfimage/82711302.pdf
Septic System Owner's Manual, Lloyd Kahn, Blair Allen, Julie Jones, Shelter Publications, 2000 $14.95 U.S. - easy to understand, well illustrated, one of the best practical references around on septic design basics including some advanced systems; a little short on safety and maintenance. Both new and used (low priced copies are available, and we think the authors are working on an updated edition--DF.
Quoting from one of several Amazon reviews: The basics of septic systems, from underground systems and failures to what the owner can do to promote and maintain a healthy system, is revealed in an excellent guide essential for any who reside on a septic system. Rural residents receive a primer on not only the basics; but how to conduct period inspections and what to do when things go wrong. History also figures into the fine coverage.
Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, Bombeck, Erma: $ 5.99; FAWCETT; MM;
This septic system classic whose title helps avoid intimidating readers new to septic systems, is available new or used at very low prices.
It's more entertainment than a serious "how to" book on septic systems design, maintenance, or repair. Not recommended -- DF.
US EPA Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual Top Reference: US EPA's Design Manual for Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal, 1980, available from the US EPA, the US GPO Superintendent of Documents (Pueblo CO), and from the National Small Flows Clearinghouse. Original source http://www.epa.gov/ORD/NRMRL/Pubs/625R00008/625R00008.htm
Water Wells and Septic Systems Handbook, R. Dodge Woodson. This book is in the upper price range, but is worth the cost for serious septic installers and designers.
Quoting Amazon: Each year, thousands upon thousands of Americans install water wells and septic systems on their properties. But with a maze of codes governing their use along with a host of design requirements that ensure their functionality where can someone turn for comprehensive, one-stop guidance? Enter the Water Wells and Septic Systems Handbook from McGraw-Hill. Written in language any property owner can understand yet detailed enough for professionals and technical students this easy-to-use volume delivers the latest techniques and code requirements for designing, building, rehabilitating, and maintaining private water wells and septic systems. Bolstered by a wealth of informative charts, tables, and illustrations, this book delivers: * Current construction, maintenance, and repair methods
* New International Private Sewage Disposal Code
* Up-to-date standards from the American Water Works Association
Wells and Septic Systems, Alth, Max and Charlet, Rev. by S. Blackwell Duncan, $ 18.95; Tab Books 1992. We have found this text very useful for conventional well and septic systems design and maintenance --DF.
Quoting an Amazon description:Here's all the information you need to build a well or septic system yourself - and save a lot of time, money, and frustration. S. Blackwell Duncan has thoroughly revised and updated this second edition of Wells and Septic Systems to conform to current codes and requirements. He also has expanded this national bestseller to include new material on well and septic installation, water storage and distribution, water treatment, ecological considerations, and septic systems for problem building sites.
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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