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Wet wipe woes

It’s long been news that wet wipes and other non-flushable items cause damage to the UK sewerage system, but a recent BBC Radio 4 programme, Costing the Earth, has found that not a single ‘flushable’ wet wipe tested has met water industry standards. Water companies across the land have long maintained that wet wipes do not break down adequately and cause blockages. Manufacturers of ‘flushable’ wipes say blockages are only caused by non-flushable items. 

So what should we be flushing down the toilet and what are the main culprits bunging up our pipes? Lets start with what should be going down the loo. Paul Harmer, Lead Technical Consultant for the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) explains, “We commonly talk about the three P’s, which in this case is pee, pooh and paper! These are the ONLY things that should be flushed down the toilet. This is what your plumbing and sewerage systems were designed for. The pipes are relatively small and easily blocked - there really isn’t much room for anything else to pass through.”

That means that EVERYTHING else should go in the bin. This especially includes:

  • Nappies
  • Any type of disposable wipe – baby wipes, make-up wipes, antibacterial cleaning wipes etc.
  • Sanitary items such as sanitary towels and tampons, including any of the packaging they are supplied with. This also includes incontinence pads and liners.
  • Cotton wool products, including cotton pads and cotton ear buds
  • Condoms, colostomy bags and even contact lenses!

 

So the message is, the next time you go to flush something down the toilet that doesn’t belong to the three P’s – pee, pooh and paper – stop and put it in the bin. No one wants their sewerage pipes to back up, and just this one thing can keep your sanitation systems free flowing for years to come.

But if you do fall into the wet wipe woes with a blocked toilet, you can find a professional plumbing engineer via our online find a plumber tool.