I've always heard that you shouldn't flush baby wipes because

  1. They don't dissolve in your septic system
  2. They can clog old pipes.

I currently live in a modern, multi-story apartment building. There is no septic system and only a few inches of pipe between the toilet bowl and the main sewage line. In what ways can wipes possibly damage this system?

4 Answers 4


The problems don't stop at your system/pipes.

Just as they don't dissolve in your septic system (should you have one), they don't dissolve in the water company's septic system and can clog the equipment in the local sewage works that isn't designed to handle such "solid" waste.

While one or two wipes from one person probably won't do too much damage, if everyone did it it would cause major problems.

As for problems to your system there's a good chance that the baby wipes will get caught up in any bends - specifically the U-bend in the toilet itself.

  • What about "flushable" wipes, are they any better?
    – Tester101
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 16:35
  • 1
    @Tester101 - I would assume that if they're called "flushable" then they should be OK.
    – ChrisF
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 16:37
  • I asked a question on skeptics to find out if "Flushable" wipes are indeed flushable.
    – Tester101
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 16:58
  • I thought that there might be problems further down the line. This question is actually to settle an argument about damage to our toilet/home only.
    – kubi
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 17:37
  • @kubi: The wipes will not damage your toilet (unless you use to many and they don't flush away, and then you damage the toilet snaking or plunging it), but they can (in theory) cause clogs in the sewer line and/or cause you to have to pump the septic tank more often (if you have one). The problem with non-flushable wipes (and maybe flushable wipes) is that they do not break down quickly enough, and are typically thicker and heavier than normal toilet paper. Because of this they can easily clog the sewer, or lay in a septic tank for a long time.
    – Tester101
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 12:16

I just got to open up my septic tank a few weeks ago for this very reason (not a fun thing to do with a shovel), and even though you live in an apartment with sewer I wouldn't flush anything other than toilet paper. If there are any places that one wipe can get caught in your drain pipes, then a lot of them will get caught in your drain pipes and they don't come out easy with a snake.

  • +1, getting them caught anywhere is a major problem - they don't degrade and will reside there forever and this will cause a major clog when you least want it.
    – sharptooth
    Commented May 27, 2011 at 11:40

I have done a ton of reading on the issue of the so-called "flushable" wipes. They are not flushable and I have stopped using them in my home. The word "flushable" is not controlled in the industry at all; it is only used by the manufacturers.

My neighbor had a sewage flood of a foot in his finished basement. The plumber found the cause to be these wipes caught up in the line in his yard leading the city line. A root caused them to pile up. They do not break down like the manufacturers say the will:


I am considering buying this product for my family as an alternative (wipeaide). I simply too scared to keep using in my home.

One county is fighting them:


In one plumbing forum I frequent, several guys are saying the flushable wipes are the best thing to happen to their businesses in years. Guaranteed work year round.

  • 1
    This is true. Flushable wipes are not flushable. I have a friend that says he gets 30-40 jobs a year because of them!
    – DMoore
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 14:50
  1. Consider using flushable wipes as they are smaller in nature and less likely to clog
  2. If you use wipes, you have to use it with toilets that use more water. Low flow water toilets are more problematic with wipes than the old models that consumed a lot of water.
  • 1
    down voted... You shouldn't flush flushable wipes. They do no degrade. They will cause issues, maybe not at the toilet level but with everything else yes.
    – DMoore
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 15:56

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.