It used to be that wet wipes were exclusively used on infants, but now there are varieties made for people of all ages. Not only has the wet wipes trend greatly surpassed infant-only-use, adult wet-wipe use has now become incredibly popular; in fact, wet wipes are now a staple in many-a-bathroom in the United States and around the world. Many people absolutely love wet wipes because they make them feel cleaner and some claim they are more comfortable to use. However, this new trend may have some downsides.
Wet Wipes and the Environment
Most wet wipes contain plastic fibers that aren’t biodegradable, and when it doesn’t disintegrate in our sewage systems, it eventually makes its way to the oceans. Many sea creatures, including sea turtles, have ingested this plastic, because they mistake it for jellyfish. This plastic gets stuck in the stomachs of these creatures, leading to starvation in the vast majority of cases.
Wet Wipes and Your Health
As we mentioned earlier, many people will tout the cleaning effects of wet wipes. Part of what causes you to feel cleaner when using wet wipes is due to the chemicals they contain. Unfortunately, these chemicals can also leave you itchy and uncomfortable. Many people are allergic, or at least sensitive, to the chemicals found in wet wipes, which is why so many people develop itchy rashes when they use them.
Wet Wipes and Bacterial Contamination
Wet wipes aren’t just used after going to the bathroom; many people also use them to disinfect their homes. Wet wipes vary significantly in their ability to kill bacteria, and studies have shown that bacterial contamination is more likely to occur when you clean with wet wipes, because you are essentially just moving the bacteria around instead of actually killing it.
Wet Wipes and Your Plumbing
When we see the “flushable” label on wet wipes, most of us automatically think that means that it is safe to flush down the toilet, but it’s not quite that simple. When something is labeled “flushable,” all that really means is that the item can get down the toilet when you flush it, not necessarily that it is safe for your plumbing system to do so. This misunderstanding about what the word “flushable” means has lead to some pretty astronomical plumbing problems.
Do you remember those non-biodegradable, plastic fibers that we mentioned earlier? They can cause clogs and overflowing toilets. Not only does this lead to problems with residential plumbing systems, but it can also lead to municipal plumbing problems that can cost millions for cities to cope with. In fact, over the past five years, New York City has spent roughly $18 million on problems related to wet wipes.
Is it ever safe to use wet wipes?
As you can see, wet wipes can be bad for the environment, your health and your plumbing system, but using them can be a tough habit to break for some people. If you insist on using wet wipes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you want a huge emergency plumbing repair bill on your hands, so you’re better off throwing your wet wipes in the trash can than flushing them in your toilet. But if you do run into a wet-wipe related plumbing emergency, turn to our emergency plumber in Belleville.