Consumer Reports: Flushable Wipes

Nina Pineda has more.
January 7, 2014 2:44:23 AM PST
Companies like Cottonelle and Charmin heavily advertise their flushable wipes. They sound so convenient. But city sewers and home septic systems may beg to differ. Plumber Kenny Valentin makes a lot of calls that involve clogged toilets, backed up sewer lines, and flooded basements. Often the culprit - flushable wipes.

"You can spend three, four, five dollars getting wipes, but at the end if you flush those into the toilet, you're going to end up paying hundreds of dollars for plumbing services," he said.

Consumer Reports checked out four flushable wipes from Cottonelle, Charmin, Scott, and Equate.

They all say they're flushable and make claims like "sewer and septic safe" and "breaks up after flushing."

First Bernie Deitrick used a machine to measure just how strong the wipes are by measuring how much force it takes to tear through them.

"Strong may not be what you want when you're flushing it down your toilet. You want something that will break down easily, so that you don't have problems with your plumbing system," she said.

You can see how quickly toilet paper breaks down in Consumer Reports' standard tests. But when Bernie ran the same test with the flushable wipes, they didn't break down at all. He gave up after ten minutes.

Even when he ran them for ten minutes in a mixer, the wipes still didn't break apart.

"Our advice: If you use these products, don't flush them down the toilet," adds Bernie.

And if you need more of a reason, listen to Kenny.

"My recommendation as a plumber, do not use flushable wipes. They can be a big problem for you," he said.

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