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The 'Wet Wipes' Test

Flushable wipes are really convenient. They can be used for a huge variety of purposes - from wiping a bench to being used as toilet paper - and can just be flushed down the drain when you've finished using them... or can they?! According to Queensland Urban Utilities, there are around 3,500 blockages a year in their systems and wet wipes play a considerable part, with around 120 tonnes of wet wipes removed every year (at a cost of around $1 million).

Wet Wipes

Even though the packaging clearly states 'flushable', wet wipes can cause a some serious issues when it comes to drain blockages and even fatbergs. Due to this, some Brisbane-based scientists have decided to test whether wipes really are flushable... and the results so far aren't that great. Queensland Urban Utilities are leading the trial, and have found that although a lot of wipes perform ok under the tests, none of them perform well enough to suggest they should actually be send down your home's piping.

In order to suggest that a wet wipe is suitable to be flushed, it must break down or disperse in a drain so it doesn't cause a blockage. If wipes that aren't flushable make their way down piping, then fatbergs can occur. According to Queensland Urban Utilities, a 7 metre long fatberg was removed from a Bowen Hills sewer last year with a crane, which is not ideal (for anyone who is unsure, a fatberg is a huge mass of solid waste in a sewerage system, consisting especially of congealed fat and personal hygiene products that have been flushed down toilets). So, this indicates that a majority of wet wipes (if not all), aren't really 'flushable' after all.

Realistically, it is strongly recommended that you do not flush any wipes down the toilet, even if they say they can be. This means you will avoid any kind of blockages or issues when it comes to your household piping and wet wipes, and you won't be contributing to other drainage issues when it comes to plumbing later on on down the line.

If you have in plumbing questions, or think flushable wipes may be causing a problem in your household's piping, give Brisbane Plumbing and Drainage a call on 0488 843 224 today and we can help. 

Resources :

Wikipedia (Fatberg): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatberg

ABC News (Flushable wipes put to the test as fatbergs clog the nation's sewers): https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-04/flushable-wipes-trial-qld-urban-utilities-test-fatbergs/11362634

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