Although no one really wants to talk about disposing of adult wipes, it’s a large problem and growing larger every day. I first became aware of the implications of their use when adult wipes and those for small children were identified as a major cause of fatbergs and as killers of marine life. A more in-depth look found they are also a waste of good trees and a source of possibly carcinogenic ingredients.
In the never-ending search for new markets, companies expanded their lines of baby wipes several years ago to make adult wipes for normal cleaning after going to the bathroom. The corporations then expanded further into disposable wipes for hemorrhoid sufferers, so-called “feminine” wipes and for folks with sensitive skin, too.
As a person with irritable bowel syndrome, I was a perfect customer for the new adult wipes consumer segment. Although I was using so many disposable wipes each day we bought them by the case, I didn’t think much about it–except I decided I would not flush them down our toilet despite label assurances it was all right. Frankly, this was to prevent a clogged toilet more than protecting sewer systems, not creating fatbergs or protecting sea creatures.
Don’t Flush Wipes Even If The Package Says You Can
If you use just one adult wipe after going to the bathroom and flush, that single wipe won’t clog your toilet or likely even the larger pipes that connect your house with the main sewer lines. The issue arises when wipes enter the main sewer system. Sewer lines, especially in older neighborhoods, will have tree roots growing into them at the joints. These roots spread into the sewer pipe to form a web. This mesh of roots will allow liquids to pass but not something as large and impermeable as a wipe. Toilet paper is made to dissolve quickly and does not usually cause an obstruction.
Even if wet wipes make it through the sewer pipes, they can still create problems when they arrive at the sewerage treatment plant. The industrial pumps there can be damaged and overheat because of fibrous wet wipes. Of course, the cost of repairing or replacing these pumps is paid by taxpayers.
Even National Public Radio weighed in on the subject.
This Green Way to Wipe Is A Winner
As a member of the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network and someone who uses adult disposable wipes, I was recruited to test and write about a new way to clean my bottom. I was attracted to the idea of using only toilet paper and still getting as clean as I was with wipes. In exchange for my honest evaluation, I received one of the units–a retail cost of $49 when ordered from the manufacturer’s website.
My first impression was positive. The unit took up less space than the package of wipes and was much more attractive. I also liked that the cleanser was pH balanced, fragrance-free and did not contain harmful parabens. Set-up was easy.
The next issue was how much of the foam cleaner to dispense at a time. The dispenser unit provides two options. The first is a 10 mL flow and the other dispenses 25 mLs. After a few attempts, I quickly learned that the 10 mL flow was perfect and that I needed more than two squares of paper if I wanted to prevent tearing and dissolving. Trial and error resulted in a “Goldilocks” combination of 10 mLs of Fohm on three squares of doubled over toilet paper. I show this combination in the video below.
I tried my new adult “disposable” wipe with two different brands of toilet paper–a double-ply premium and a budget-friendly two-ply brand–with similar results. Both held the Fohm long enough for one or two passes before disintegrating. Knowing I can dispose of the used Fohm wipes in the toilet makes the environmentalist in me very happy.
As the company says on its website, “Fohm is what you end up with when you create a user experience that’s built for adults on toilets, and not try to repurpose a product designed for babies in diapers.”