As a parent I have to confess that I can appreciate the convenience of ‘flushable’ toilet wipes – for dealing with messy little incidents when mere toilet tissue just isn’t up to the task. You know what I’m saying.
Imagine my dismay then to read recently that not one of the products marked as ‘flushable wipes’, those marketed especially at parents with small kids, passed water industry tests designed for the purpose. This is somewhat alarming news which leaves me feeling flushed with shame, for I confess, I have bought and used these products.
Water industry experts insist that none of the products marketed as flushable are in fact safe to flush and every one of them failed the standard test they use to test see how easily they would disperse after passing the u-bend. Conclusion: They do not disintegrate quickly enough in the sewer and can result in horrendous and hugely expensive blockages in our sewerage network. This is dreadful news. It was a huge mistake that we ever entertained the notion that toilets could cope with wet wipes being flushed down them. Central to the problem is that manufacturers use a different test which agitates the wipes more vigorously. They say, in their own tests that wipes will disperse in the swirling conditions of the sewer.
One should note that the manufacturers always state that flushable wipes should only ever be flushed one at a time. That should ring alarm bells straight away. With the best will in the world, who is going to complete a two- or three-wipe ‘clean up’ (I’m sparing you the unpleasant details here) and then wait patiently for the cistern to refill while flushing them one by one…? Come on be honest!
Of course to many people, out of sight is out of mind. We happily lob our bin bags in the wheelie bin, with not a thought as to what happens to the waste afterward. The same is true for toilets, once the flush lever is pushed and the unpleasant bowlful has been sluiced away we are content to assume that all is well. Not so, say Yorkshire Water and many other water companies dealing with the unpleasant aftermath. It seems there are no toilet wet wipes which are truly flushable. Or more accurately, there are plenty which certainly disappear down the pan at the push of a button but that does not mean that we should flush them.
You may like to see the BBC news article that prompted me to write this post.