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Okay, so you have accidentally flushed baby wipes down toilet and now wondering if it is safe or not. You are definitely not alone!
So many people have this question and often worry that this simple mistake could cost them dearly. But really, what happens if you accidentally flushed a baby wipe?
Will it lead to any blockages? Will you have to contact something to do some repair work?
Flushing baby wipes down the toilet can cause pipes and plumbing fixtures to clog, but it can negatively impact the environment and your well-being.
What Happens If You Accidentally Flushed Baby Wipes Down Toilet?
So many times, you buy baby wipes and notice that it mentions “flushable” on the packaging. Does that mean you are safe to flush it down your toilet? Probably not!
Baby wipes do not disintegrate in water like toilet paper does, and that is a problem.
That makes it more probable that they will get stuck in the pipes and build up to the point where no liquids can flow through them.
When a backup results in raw sewage flowing back into a residence, the issue is considerably more serious than a simple annoyance. In fact, flushing baby wipes can have far-reaching effects.
Immediate Effects of Flushing Baby Wipes
There are instant consequences that can lead to major plumbing issues when baby wipes are flushed down the toilet.
Clogged Pipes and Plumbing Fixtures
Because baby wipes do not break down in the water like toilet paper does, they can quickly build up and cause clogs in plumbing systems.
Wipes can exacerbate the problem when combined with other substances like grease or hair. Slow drainage, backups, and even flooding are all possible outcomes if the obstructions prevent water from flowing freely.
Clogs in your home’s pipes are common and difficult to identify and clear. Furthermore, they are able to occur in the public sewer system, causing issues for the entire neighborhood.
Fact: It sometimes becomes necessary for plumbers to use drain snakes or hydro-jetting machines to clear the obstructions, which can be an expensive option.
Blockage in Sewage System
There is also the risk of clogs in the sewage system from flushed baby wipes.
Wipes have the potential to clump together with other debris in sewer pipes, causing a substantial clog that can slow down sewage flow.
Sewage backups and spills are a risk to human health and the environment when pipes become clogged.
The Long-Term Effects of Flushing Baby Wipes
Clogging pipes and plumbing are just the beginning of the problems that can arise from flushing baby wipes.
Flushing baby wipes has the potential for serious and costly damage to the environment and wastewater treatment systems in the long run.
Harmful Environmental Impact
Baby wipes negatively influence the environment when flushed down the toilet.
The wipes pose a threat to aquatic life when they end up in water sources including:
This contamination can endanger other marine animals when they become entangled in the wipes or drown trying to free themselves.
Wipes can also accumulate on beaches and other coastal areas, leading to an unsightly and sometimes unhygienic buildup.
Contaminated Water Supply
The wipes are a potential hazard to water supplies as well. The wipes decompose slowly and release many different toxins over time.
This has the potential to contaminate your water supply and result in ecological damage.
Harmful algae and other microbes can flourish in the presence of these compounds, depleting the water of oxygen and creating dead zones.
Fact: In New York City, more than $19 million a year goes towards repairing clogged pipes caused by wipes.
Issues with Sewage Treatment Facilities
If flushed down the toilet, baby wipes can cause problems for the wastewater treatment plants. This can lead to a blockage of:
Overflows and spills may occur if the treatment plant’s capacity is diminished due to obstructions.
Damage to the ecology and human health can be compounded when untreated sewage and other toxic compounds are released into the environment as a result of such spills.
Maintenance and upgrades to these facilities’ pricey equipment and infrastructure can majorly impact local budgets.
Taxpayers can be charged more for utilities to cover the cost of sewage treatment plant maintenance and repairs.
Health Risks Associated with Flushing Baby Wipes
There are serious concerns to public health that should not be disregarded when baby wipes are disposed of in this manner.
Remember that flushing baby wipes might release bacteria and viruses that could be hazardous to humans.
Exposure to Bacteria
Be prepared to deal with increased exposure to dangerous microorganisms, including salmonella, E.coli, etc., for being careless and flushing baby wipes.
Wipes can cause clogs in the sewer system, leading to overflows and backups if flushed down the toilet.
These leaks can expose people to hazardous bacteria and viruses by pouring untreated sewage and other toxic substances into the environment.
Even the wipes themselves can be a breeding ground for germs. In fact, bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus can cause infections, such as:
Fact: The wipes may also harbor viruses like norovirus, which can cause life-threatening diarrhea.
Other Health Issues Caused by Wipes
Clogged pipes can also lead to electrical hazards. Electrical problems may arise due to wet outlets or fire hazards because of smoldering items.
Not only this, sewage backups can cause structural damage to properties, necessitating pricey repairs and cleanup.
As a result of having to deal with the unsanitary and stressful conditions left behind by sewage backups, some people develop mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
Can You Ever Flush Baby Wipes Down Your Toilet?
It is natural to think that those wipes that say “flushable” on the packaging are safe to throw in your toilet.
Mostly they are not safe, but ultimately, it comes down to the layout of pipes and plumbing design in your home.
To know if your home’s plumbing system can handle flushable wipes, calling a professional plumber is your best bet.
The plumber can view the blueprints and let the homeowner know if their plumbing system is suitable for flushing disposable wipes.
Fact: Keep in mind that most plumbers would probably err on the side of caution and advise against flushing disposable wipes.
Preventing Flushing Baby Wipes
Protecting public health, the environment, and sewage treatment plants requires a proactive approach, and that means preventing the flushing of baby wipes.
The key to preventing this problem is proper education and alternative disposal options.
Alternative Disposal Methods
Providing options other than flushing baby wipes down the toilet is crucial.
Baby wipes can be thrown away with the trash. Parents and other caregivers who go through a lot of baby wipes can use a diaper pail or similar waste container.
Diapers, wipes, and other non-flushable trash should be disposed of in these containers.
However, diaper pails are not the only option for disposing of feminine hygiene goods like tampons and pads.
You may also put old baby wipes in these bags for disposal. The wipes will not end up in the toilet if you close the bags and throw them away after use.
Education on what may and may not be flushed is also important in the fight against the practice of flushing baby wipes.
Not everyone is aware that you should not flush things like baby wipes or paper towels.
Campaigns to inform the public about the hazards of flushing baby wipes can help motivate people to choose alternative disposal methods.
The advertising can enlighten people about different disposal options and stress the need to follow those rules.
Signage in public restrooms warning users not to flush items might also contribute to the necessary education.
These cues can discourage the practice of flushing baby wipes and encourage more responsible disposal methods.
So, what happens if you accidentally flushed baby wipes down toilet? If you accidentally flush a baby wipe, it is less likely to cause a problem. But, if you stick to this routine, you will eventually face various issues.
In fact, there are immediate and major consequences to dumping baby wipes down the toilet and doing so can lead to catastrophic plumbing concerns.
Blockages in the sewer system can lead to sewage backups and spills, which can be hazardous to public health and the environment.
Putting baby wipes and other items that cannot go down the toilet in the trash is essential for keeping these issues at bay.