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What Happens if You Flush Baby Wipes Down the Toilet?

Flushing baby wipes down the toilet will either clog your home plumbing or clog machinery at a wastewater treatment plant. Baby wipes (even the flushable kind) do not dissolve in water. This means they can easily build up in your pipes and cause nasty clogs that cost thousands of dollars to repair. Never flush baby wipes or any other kind of flushable wipes down the toilet. Toilet paper and human waste are the only things that you should ever flush.

What happens if you flush baby wipes down the toilet?

Do Flushable Baby Wipes Dissolve?

Baby wipes do not dissolve in water. Even baby wipes that are advertised as “flushable” on the packaging are not actually flushable because they won’t break down. Toilet paper, on the other hand, is designed to dissolve in water. That is why it is much easier to resolve a toilet paper clog than it is to fix a toilet clogged with baby wipes. Since baby wipes do not dissolve in water, they can get snagged in plumbing and stay there. They can also wreak havoc on a septic tank.

  • Baby wipes do not dissolve when flushed.
  • Do not trust baby wipe brands that say their wipes are flushable—they are hazardous to home plumbing and wastewater systems.
  • Flushing baby wipes causes hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to water treatment systems in the United States.

Baby wipes that do not get stuck in your plumbing will travel through the sewer system to a water treatment plant. There, they clog machinery. This results in over $440 million per year in additional operating costs for US clean water facilities. These costs then get passed on to taxpayers to clean and repair machinery clogged with wipes. So, if you flush baby wipes you will end up paying for it down the line.

What Chemical Will Dissolve Baby Wipes?

There is no chemical you can pour into your drain or toilet to dissolve baby wipes. Flushed wipes resist breaking down because they are made from tough materials. Since they can survive water treatment processing, there is no home remedy that will dissolve wet wipes in your sewer pipes. The only solution is to physically remove the wipes with a toilet auger or a similar tool.

  • You cannot dissolve baby wipes in your plumbing by using chemicals.
  • Baby wipes are too tough to be dissolved with chemicals.
  • If your toilet is clogged with toilet paper, you can use some specialized chemicals to dissolve the clog.

Unlike baby wipes, toilet paper clogs can be dissolved with chemicals. Treatments for septic systems, lime and rust removers, and even homemade clog-busters can break up a toilet paper clog. Unfortunately, none of these tactics work to dissolve baby wipes in your plumbing.

Which Wipes are Actually Flushable?

There is no such thing as a flushable wipe. The only paper product you can flush down your toilet is toilet paper. Despite the advertising around wet wipes, personal wipes, and baby wipes, none of them can be safely flushed. Flushing these products will result in a toilet clog, ruined septic tank, or expensive problems at your local water treatment facility.

  • Toilet paper is the only truly flushable paper product.
  • Baby wipes and wet wipes that are advertised as “flushable” are very likely to cause clogs.
  • Avoid plumbing issues by never flushing baby wipes, paper towels, tissues, or cotton swabs.
  • Instead of flushing baby wipes, throw them in the trash.

In addition to disposable wipes, paper towels, facial tissues, makeup-removing wipes, and feminine products resist chemical treatments. So, it is best to avoid flushing any of these products. Flush toilet paper and bodily waste only.

How Long Does it Take for Baby Wipes to Clog a Toilet?

If you flush baby wipes after each time you change a diaper, you can clog your toilet in as little as a few days. How quickly your plumbing system becomes clogged depends on the size of your sewer drain pipe, as well as the materials your pipes are made from and their age. Smaller, older pipes made of iron are extremely likely to become clogged quickly.

  • Baby wipes can cause a massive plumbing clog in just a few days.
  • Some homeowners have no problem flushing wipes for weeks or months before their pipes become clogged.
  • Wipes that don’t clog your pipes will damage septic systems or water treatment equipment.

Even if you successfully flush baby wipes for weeks, there is still a potential for a clog to occur. If the wipes are traveling successfully through your pipes, they will either fill your septic tank or clog machinery at a water treatment plant. So, flushing baby wipes always creates a clog problem somewhere.

Will One Baby Wipe Clog a Toilet?

Although it is unlikely for a single baby wipe to completely clog a toilet, flushing wipes can create the conditions for a future clog. Even a single wipe can get snagged or stuck in the plumbing. You may not notice a problem at first, but this partial clog can collect more debris, which can fully block your sewer drain pipe. In the worst case, the drain pipe may become fully clogged and raw sewage may back up into your home.

  • There is a very low chance that one baby wipe will clog a toilet.
  • Repeatedly flushing baby wipes over time drastically increases the chance of a clog.
  • Baby wipes that snag in plumbing begin collecting other material to form an expensive-to-fix clog.

It is best not to worry too much if you accidentally flush one baby wipe. This probably won’t cause large-scale sewer damage. However, be careful to avoid flushing any additional baby wipes. The more wipes you flush, the more likely you are to fully clog your plumbing.

What Should You Do if You Flushed a Baby Wipe?

If you flushed a baby wipe but the toilet does not seem clogged right away, monitor the toilet for the next few days to ensure it is draining properly. A wipe snagged in your plumbing can gradually cause a clog. However, if there is no evidence of a clog, there is no need to snake or plunge the toilet.

  • Observe the toilet after flushing for the next 5 days—make sure it empties quickly and fully.
  • If there is no evidence of a clog, use the toilet regularly.
  • Do not flush any additional wipes.
  • If the toilet seems clogged or slow to drain, contact a plumber to remove the clog.

After flushing a single wipe, take extra care not to flush any other inappropriate items down the toilet. Flushing additional wipes or other products will increase the likelihood of a clog. If your toilet does begin to show evidence of a clog, contact a plumber to help resolve the situation.

Is it OK to Flush Baby Wipes Down the Toilet?

If you are unsure what to do with used baby wipes, review these facts:

  • Flushing baby wipes is very likely to cause nasty toilet clogs.
  • Never flush baby wipes down the toilet, even if the packaging says they are flushable.
  • Baby wipes do not dissolve in water.
  • Chemical treatments do not dissolve baby wipes clogging your toilet.
  • Removing a baby wipe clog usually requires a toilet auger and/or the help of a professional plumber.

To save yourself a headache and thousands of dollars in repairs, throw baby wipes directly into the trash after use. This is the safest disposal method.

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