Flushable toilet wipes have been rising in popularity since the first “disposable, dispersible” wipe was introduced by Kimberley Clark in 2001. Since then, many consumers have refused to go back to the scratchy dry toilet paper of yore, as evidenced by the size of the now multi-billion-dollar industry.
But are flushable wipes bad for our toilets?
Dry Paper Vs. Wet Wipes
It’s just plain truth that wet toilet wipes have to be made of stronger fibers than dry toilet paper in order to serve their purpose. Most “flushable” toilet wipes are made of wood pulp cellulose, whose fibers are spun or woven, treated with chemicals like binders, cleaning solutions, and fragrances etc., and then compressed into sheets.
Wood pulp cellulose is a biodegradable product, and the compressed fibers do eventually unwind while soaking in water. But flushable wipes don’t degrade nearly as quickly as regular toilet paper, which tends to dissolve within 24 hours. This difference in ease of biodegradability is what may cause a lot of trouble for your plumbing.