Q&A: My home is on a septic system. Is it OK to flush wet wipes I use in the bathroom?

Consumer Reports News: April 13, 2009 11:24 AM

We just moved from a house that was on the town sewer system to a home with a septic system. Are the wet wipes I use in the bathroom flushable?

Even though some bathroom wet wipes are marketed as flushable, including the Charmin Freshmates, Cottonelle Fresh Wipes, and Scott Flushable Wipes we tested for our May 2009 report on toilet paper and wipes (the full report and ratings are available to subscribers), we generally advise against flushing them down the toilet.

These three wipes all did a poor job in our disintegration test, which measured the time needed for the wipes to break up in swirling water. So to avoid taxing your toilet or your septic system, we recommend that you bag the wipes after use and toss them into the trash. If you have an infant at home, put the wipes in the diaper pail/receptacle. And if you’ve brought home any plastic bags from the supermarket, use those. | Twitter

Essential information: If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of wipes or toilet paper, buy rolls that are 100 percent recycled. Greenpeace rates toilet papers based on the bleaching process. Learn more about the environmental group’s toilet-paper ratings in “Greenpeace Flushes Toilet Papers That Don't Meet Its Green Criteria.”

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