Let’s get something straight: Nothing besides toilet paper and human waste should ever be flushed down the toilet. This includes: paper towels, feminine hygiene products, dead gold fish, and most importantly, baby wipes. Apparently, a ton of people missed out on this important life lesson, and it's causing a tremendous amount of trouble for sewer systems across America.
Unfortunately, not even "flushable" bathroom wipes are safe enough to flush down the toilet. These wipes may go down the toilet when you hit the flush lever, but experts say once inside the sewer system, they aren’t breaking down. This is costing cities millions to unclog and replace backed up pipes and pumps, the Associated Press reported. “They wind up where they shouldn't, they're not decomposing," Jim Pynn, a water treatment plant manager in New York City, told NBC NY.
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies claims that complaints about sewer system problems have spiked in the past four years, which pretty much coincides with when the flushable moist toilettes entered the market in about 2007, AP reported. To prove this hypothesis, sewer officials in Vancouver, Wash., dyed various types of flushable wipes and sent them through more than a mile of sewer pipes to see what happened. Turns out, other than receiving a few rips and tears along the way, the wipes remained basically intact.
In one western New York town, the problem got so bad that sewer workers set up traps to catch the wipes in order to track which households were contributing to the problems. "We could walk right up, knock on the door and say, 'Listen, this problem is coming right from your house,'" said Tom Walsh, senior project coordinator at South & Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer Districts, to the AP.
One suggested alternative for those who desire a fresh bottom but don’t want to have sanitary workers knocking on their doors is a bidet. These devices are popular throughout the world, found in 60 percent of Japanese households and nearly 90 percent of Venezuelan homes, Scientific American reported. Hands-free bidets are also more hygienic than moist toilet wipes. Almost 80 percent of all infectious diseases are passed on by human contact, and only about half of the world’s population washes their hands after using the toilet, Scientific American reported. “If you don’t have to use your hands at all then there is less chance of passing or coming in contact with a virus,” the BioRelief manufacturers claim.
If a bidet isn’t your style, then please continue to use moist wipes. Just don’t flush them down the toilet.