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Topic Briefs

The Problem with “Flushable” Wipes - April 2020

Single-use wet wipes – baby, disinfectant, disposable – are ubiquitous in our society. Right now, people are using wet wipes in record numbers because of sanitation concerns and toilet paper shortages due to the COVID-19 crisis.

One of the major issues with wipes is that many of these products are marketed as flushable, but are not compatible with sewer systems and infrastructure. Wipes have synthetic fibers made from cellulose that do not break down after being flushed and can catch on tree roots and accumulate with fats, oils, and grease and become large obstructions in the pipes.