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Your wipes may say they flush but that doesn’t mean they won’t block

So-called ‘flushable’ wipes fail to meet water industry tests

It is estimated that disposal of ‘flushable’ wipes down the toilet could account for up to 93% of blockages in the UK and so far no wet wipe products labelled as flushable have passed the water industry’s disintegration tests. There have been several media reports on the subject recently yet despite all the evidence, manufacturers are insisting that their tests are adequate and sewer blockages are caused by non-flushable wipes being put down the toilet.

We have written about this issue before but given that it’s in the news again we felt it was worth revisiting. We see first-hand the damage that wipes flushed down the toilet can cause. Blockages in the drains lead to water backing up and flooding homes and can cause pipes to burst. The damage can be extensive and the repair job expensive. Even if you have home emergency cover, some insurers could potentially declare your policy invalid just when you need it if it is deemed that you didn’t take appropriate caution against a blockage by putting inappropriate items down the toilet or drains.

Is it worth risking ‘flushable’ wipes?

We would urge caution against flushing anything other than toilet tissue down the lavatory. If you must use them and even if the packaging states that the wipes are flushable or calls them ‘moist toilet tissue’, it is advisable to dispose of them in the bin rather than the toilet. That goes for anything else as well including tissues, cotton buds and sanitary items; all of which are bad news for drains. Water companies advise that only the ‘3 Ps’ should ever go down the toilet: Pee, Poo and Paper!

The environmental impact of wipes

Drain blockages are not the only issue related to wet wipes being flushed. We’re all now aware of the problems that plastics cause in our seas and rivers and while many of us are trying to help the environment by reducing the amount of single use plastic we buy, such as straws and drinks bottles, we could be doing just as much damage with wet wipes which contain tiny plastic fibres. These end up in our waters which in turn can be ingested by bird and marine life and ultimately ending up in our food chain.

In conclusion, whether you are motivated by avoiding the cost and damage of flooding, by looking after the planet, or both, then the best course of action is to not flush any kind of wipe down the toilet.

If you suspect that you do have a blockage issue (water failing to drain away properly or a consistently foul smell coming from the sink, toilet or drains) then it’s worth dealing with that before it becomes a bigger issue. We can offer CCTV drain investigations where we send a camera down the drains to identify any blockages or leakages. Call us on 0800 032 6478 or complete the form opposite.

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