So-called “flushable wet wipes” have been popping up on Bristol’s supermarket shelves in increasing numbers over the past couple of years. They are handy for makeup removal, household cleaning, and personal hygiene, and their popularity is understandable. However, despite the branding, they are in no way “flushable.”
The science is simple: the fibres in wet wipes do not break down once they are flushed. Even the wipes that are labelled as “flushable” have this problem because by definition they need to be made strong enough to stay wet for long periods of time. If they did not have this resilience to moisture they would fall apart before you even took them out of the packaging. Toilet paper, no the other hand, is thin enough to disintegrate soon after passing the U-Bend.
Some wipes claim to meet “flushability protocols,” but again do not be fooled by this. These protocols have been set by the wet wipe manufacturers, rather than plumbing or drain experts.
Flushing anything other than toilet paper, pee, or poo (commonly known as “The Three P’s”) down the loo can lead to serious blockages in your drain, or worse, those of your neighbours. Some estimates suggest that wet wipes are responsible for over 10,000 blocked drains every year. As a result, several water companies have now called for a ban on the word “flushable” on wet wipe packaging.
Wessex Water, who cover Bristol and the surrounding area, have even made the following video to inform people of the damage “flushable” wet wipes can cause:
The solution is simple; put your wet wipes in the bin. You can avoid these costly blockages for yourself, your neighbours, and your city.