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The Story of the Flushable Wipes That Almost Cost Me $320!

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flushable wipes in garbage can

Flushable wipes = disastrous pipes. 😱

My unfortunate plumbing disaster took place about 2 years ago when my family and I had moved to Reno, NV. We were in the planning stages of renovating a 1950’s ranch and turning it into our new family home.

And by the way, that renovation is still going on – it has taken much, much longer than we anticipated. 😬

After our move to Reno in the summer of 2018, I remember that we were so proud of how many of our old belongings we were able to purge so that we could start fresh in our new home! However, we weren’t greeted with the freshest experience and I’ll never forget how it happened. 😳

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED

don't flush flushable wipes down into the plumbing – sink and shower with backup in plumbing

Something is seriously wrong with our plumbing system…😧

After moving in, we were soon met with the most disgusting sewer backups (evidence pictured above). Excuse me while I go throw up…🤢 Sorry if you were in the middle of eating something tasty!

Our realtor had gotten us a home warranty on the house (which had really come in handy for our NON-working AC Unit), so we thought, “Great! We’re totally covered!” … NOT. Unfortunately for us, sewer issues weren’t covered by the home warranty at all.

A hand pulling a wipe out of the toilet

You won’t believe what caused our septic fiasco…

After calling a plumber to come out and fix the unsightly problem, he did some troubleshooting and eventually found the culprit — FLUSHABLE WIPES. Yup! Something that’s advertised (in the name no less) actually isn’t supposed to be used for its intended purpose — what the heck?!

Confused and upset at the time, I decided to give the flushable wipe company’s customer service a call. To my surprise, the customer service rep was actually so gracious in the situation as they not only refunded me for the wipes that I purchased on Amazon, but they sent me a prepaid Visa card with the amount we paid to the plumber as reimbursement for the clogged pipes! WOW! 😱

don't flush flushable wipes down into the plumbing – plumbing bill for flushable wipe backup issues

I love great customer service and I was pleased to get that reaction from the company. I mean, that’s $320 I didn’t need to stress about losing! Luckily, my not-so-pleasant situation had a happy ending for my family, but that’s not always the case.

In fact, this plumbing problem is quite common.

Placing toilet paper in cups of water to test septic-safety

Hip Tip: To be sure your toilet paper is septic-safe, do a toilet paper test by placing a few sheets in cups of water to see how quickly they dissolve. If one roll breaks down substantially slower than others, it’s probably not the safest option.


holding up flushable wipes package before being thrown out

Why are flushable wipes so bad for sewer pipes? 🤔

One of my team members, Amber, is married to a Public Works Sewer foreman, so he gave us the lowdown on why flushable wipes are bad news for sewer pipes. 🚽

  • Flushable wipes are bad because they don’t break down as fast as toilet paper when they are flushed, meaning they back up your sewer.
  • Even if they flush, they cause issues in your actual piping.
  • It’s even worse if they make it through your private sewer lines. This ends up causing problems in the public sewer lines, meaning it causes plumbing issues for you and your neighbors.
  • This is actually becoming a well-known issue among consumers and there are groups dedicated to raising more awareness, like nomorewipes.com.
  • Wipes actually cause 90% of sewer related issues.

Um, YIKES! 😱 Who knew those seemingly safe wipes could cause so much damage. After the plumbing debacle, our family has been way more conscious about what we try flushing.


close up of Greenco Bidet Fresh Water Spray Non-Electric Mechanical Bidet Toilet Seat Attachment

Once you go bidet, you NEVER go back the old way! 😜

We had never experienced any plumbing problems like this in our old home, likely because we had a bidet system on our toilets.

By the way, let me tell you, bidets are the most incredible investment ever. It’s like a shower for your butt without having to take the time to actually get in the shower (is that too much info?). 😂  Not to mention that you’ll use way less toilet paper if you have a bidet system.

If you’re in the market for a bidet, check out our top 3 picks here!


man confused - toilet paper in shopping cart

Below are the dos and don’ts that our plumbing expert shared with us:

So, what can I flush?

  • Toilet paper labeled as septic safe

Yeah, that’s it. A good rule of thumb — if it’s not septic-safe toilet paper or human waste, DON’T flush it! Instead, toss it in a garbage can nearby to dispose of it. If you have a poor plumbing or a septic system, you’ll want to be extra careful with the type of toilet paper you flush. Recommended brands include:

Don’t flush things that are not safe:

A hand holding a box of Kleenex

  • Flushable wipes (or any other wipes for that matter)
  • Tampons and sanitary napkins
  • Tissues
  • Paper towels
  • Anything that’s NOT toilet paper

You’ll also want to stay away from scented toilet paper, as it contains chemicals that could harm your septic system. 👎

Anyway, I’m glad that the nightmare is over and it was certainly a lesson learned. Hopefully, this will save you from a plumbing catastrophe like mine in the future!


Speaking of toilet paper, do you need some? Head over here for all the toilet paper deals!

Join The Discussion

Comments 77

  1. marie

    I wish more people were educated on this. When the TP shortage hit, my aunt (I love her dearly but she’s a worrier) freaked out about no TP despite me having a huge stockpile from Hip2Save! She was able to find flushable wipes though. It was so hard to try to explain that you can’t flush them! We pay $20 a month on our water bill for insurance so we *should* be covered should anything happen. But no, just because something says it, doesn’t mean it’s true! Do your research. Especially on things that are going into your pipes

    • Jennifer Welton

      Heads up…we have had so may sewer issues in our last home. We thought the insurance would cover it…it doesn’t. We looked at a ton of companies and each time we found fine print that basically meant our older pipes from when the house was built were not qualified for coverage bc there wasn’t the modern code updates. They took my money for years…and I had to go to the state attorney general to complain about it. I ended up being refunded for all the premiums I paid over the years and now in my state the water company (primary supplier for sewer line protection programs) is required to explain this to homeowners before they sign up and offer for a reasonable fee for someone to come out and camera their lines to confirm eligibility for coverage before they start taking monthly premium payments.

      • marie

        Oh wow, thanks Jennifer! Our house was built in 2006 so hopefully they’re OK 🤞 but definitely worth looking into! I will happily save that money if they won’t cover us

  2. Jackie

    And that’s why every time I see a deal about these wipes I always say something. I think it’s funny when people want to argue and say they have been using them for years with no issues. They are great BUT DO NOT flush them. If you want to use them just wipe with TP and then wipe with the “flushable” wipes but throw those into the trash NOT the toilet! I think that was amazing that they were willing to pay your bill. Just curious, did you asked them or did they just offered to pay for it? I never had any issues with our plumbing but we had a Plummer do an inspection of our bathrooms after they finished our new construction and he saw the wipes sitting on top of the toilet and the told us about all the issues. We stoped flushing them right away. Thankfully we had only been in this house for a week before he told us about it 😀.

  3. ani

    Thank you so great info😅

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re welcome, Ani!

  4. Jaci1717

    Same thing happened to us at the time my son had a surgery and had to use those luckily my husband was able to resolve the nasty unpleasant situation without making a service call

  5. IB

    Flushable wipes should never be used with a septic tank. It’s the worst thing you can do for your plumbing system. Doesn’t matter if the wipes say “spectic safe”. There’s really no such thing. Not only can they plug your lines, but the also have ingredients in them that destroy the good bacteria in your tank.

  6. JD827

    Everyone should sit down with your insurance agent and find out exactly what is and isn’t covered in a sewage backup or water leak situation. In many cases you will need extra riders to your policy. Definitely get riders to cover the water and sewage lines from the point of entry at your house to where it connects at the street. It is inevitable that those deteriorate at some point, are the homeowners responsibility and are very expensive. My rider that covers this is very inexpensive. I also have a rider that covers any fixed appliances such as furnace and water heater. I found this far cheaper than a standard home warranty. It is different for everyone but I thought this might help someone.

  7. Amy

    Also Tampons. Do not flush tampons. 😬

    • Ap927

      I’ve been flushing tampons for 30 years. 🤷🏽‍♀️

      • Roro

        Well stop, its never late.
        Where do people think all that waste ends up?

        • Steph

          The waste will end up in a see if flushed or a landfill if thrown out…. neither is good for the environment ……..

        • Ap927

          It’s gonna be waste either way, no?

      • Steph

        Same 🤷🏼‍♀️

        • Jennifer Welton

          …sending tampons to the landfill won’t increase your public sewage bills… Talk to any sewer treatment plant….the costs of repairs from tampons and “flushable” wipes is ridiculous and those costs are passed onto the homeowners. It all adds up and you will pay for it.

          • Danny

            You posted a picture of puffs plus lotion tissue. Is that something else that should not be flushed?

            Also are the toilet papers pictured all ok? The only kind we ever had problems with was charmin and now use Just Costco brand – no problem! On our septic.

            • Ashley

              Yep, Danny!
              *Anything* that isn’t TP or from out of you will cause problems in the short or long term. And some really old septic systems can’t use all “septic safe” TP, like ours. We can only use Scott 1000. Certainly something to adjust to, but we’re always learning!

      • Jana

        This one depends on your sewage system. If you’re on septic and/or lateral lines then you cannot flush them. This is mostly just us country people though that have these systems. Sewer systems it’s usually fine.

        • JD827

          Oh no no no no! It may go through your house fine or Not but it clogs the sewage treatment plants for sure. I’ve lived both country and city and just no, don’t do it.

          • Diane

            When I was younger both my SIL and I were flushing tampons down the toilet. This was with a sewer. The roto-rooter said to NEVER flush tampons down a toilet.

      • Jax

        Does anyone read the instructions? DO NOT FLUSH. Simple. Wrap it up like a pad.

        • Ap927

          Actually, no, I don’t read the instructions. I know how to pop em in by now, so haven’t sat down and read a tampon box lately. Thanks for asking!

          • Snowflake1211

            They aren’t asking if you know how to pop them in, they are asking if you know what to do when you pop them out…..don’t put them in the toilet.

            • Ap927

              I was answering the question about why I don’t read the box. Thanks for your input though.

      • Bri

        That’s a huge no! We just had sewage back up last year that cost us over 3,000 for a problem we didn’t cause! The previous owners were flushing tampons and wipes down the toilet and years later it caused a huge issue for us! The plumber said no one should ever flush wipes and especially tampons. They’re suppose to go in the trash and absolutely do not belong going down a toilet!

        You may have never had a problem in your 30 years but one day you might and it’ll cost you money that you shouldn’t have had to spend/fix in the first place.

    • Amy

      My sister was having trouble with her toilet and they ended up pulling it up and there were multiple Tampons right in the drain leaving the toilet. He literally pulled them out in front of her and said yeah you don’t ever flush those. I’ve never flushed one since, but to each their own!

  8. Jill F

    That was such a great idea to call the flushable wipes company! It never hurts to try! Glad you got it worked out Collin!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thanks so much! Yes! Always good to give it a try!

  9. Iris

    Thank you for posting this. I don’t use flushable wipes since a rather surly plumber told me they make him rich. I will do the T.P. test, although I don’t want to give up my Charmin. On the tampon issue, I have a rather embarrassing story. Long ago, I used to flush tampons. One day my former (no, i didn’t get kicked out) landlady growled, “Come into the basement!” I got to see my tampons all over the basement floor. They had caused an extensive sewer backup. After that, I never flushed tampons again. I guess it depends on your plumbing system. Stay safe, y’all and may God bless you!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Oh no! You’re welcome, Iris! Thanks a ton for sharing your story with us!

  10. jen

    I find the quilted northern & charmin seems to clog the toilet easily. Often times my kids don’t flush every time & it seems to make a wad of tissue that won’t break apart. Scott comfort plus has become our go to. It seems to break down much faster, I rarely have issues. It’s a good compromise of softness & strength.

    • SueJo

      I agree Jen!

  11. JD827

    Collin,
    Please consider doing an article on menstrual cups. There is the Tampa cup, Diva, Ziggy, Flex cup and Flex discs, Softdisc, and June cup. I’m almost 70 and past this but have a relative that says these have made her life so much easier. Combine, environmental, plumbing, money and comfort issues and I think it would make a great article.

      • JD827

        Great article!!! I would add that CVS carries the flex cup and if you are a Carepass member you could use Carepass dollars to reduce the cost. The best bargain right now is the June cup for $6. My relative loves the Flex cup too but says the June fits her better.

        • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

          Awesome! Thanks for the tips! Good to know!

    • Kathleen

      Yes I agree! I just started using one this year (in my late 30’s) and wished I’d known about them and been using them since my teens!

      • C

        Were lucky we have choices on feminine products in the USA (many countries don’t)… but as a germaphobe and someone with very heavy periods, I would never use the cup (I think most ppl I know that use them have very light periods and could honestly use the period panties which would be much safer)… also I’m not sure how other feminine products would cause plumbing issues unless you don’t realize you shouldn’t flush them- which is just common sense not to flush them 🤷🏼‍♀️ (I’ve never really heard of ppl flushing them that I know personally … and you’ll notice most public bathrooms in every country say not to flush them)

        • blessedmommyx4

          I actually use the cups and DO have very heavy flow on my first two days of each cycle, but the cups have been a game changer for me! They hold so much more than even the super plus tampons and I still wear a pantyliner as backup but rarely have leaks.

  12. patricialavenz-goff

    Thank you for sharing. I didn’t know about this until the septic man came to empty my tank. He told my brother to stop putting them down the toilet and he listened (not to me but the septic man go figure) so we will not have this issue. LOL I am so proud of the company to have reimbursed you the cost of both items. So now maybe they can take the flushable off their product…………….

  13. Sybrennia

    Same exact thing happened to us. Ours cost $2500 because of exterior pipe damage. The plumber said he makes most of his money because of flushable wipes and Charmin toilet paper

  14. chesca

    I mean no disrespect, but i would seem to believe its easier for you to get discounts and free items when they know you run a large blog. While I am sure you did not intentionally blurt it out, I would imagine through the questions that would seemingly need to be asked, it was mentioned in even a passing way. There seems to be an extravagant amount of people who have had issues – even mentioned by people on here. I find it hard to believe the company would do this for everyone, or everybody and their uncle would be calling. They would never be able to survive if they paid out for everybody. Again no disrespect just pointing out what I see

  15. Emily

    I am a septic system inspector for a county, and I can confidently say that if you didn’t eat it first and it’s not toilet paper it has no business getting flushed. I’ve seen too many people have to replace systems to the tune of $20,000+ because they flushed too many wipes/tampons. Just don’t do it. Go ahead and use your wipes, but put them in the trash instead of in the toilet.

  16. Debbi

    I was educated along time ago when we bought a house with a septic tank. No grease, no wipes, no tampons. and Garbage disposals are a really, really bad idea. Put your food trash in the trash or compost it.

  17. sarah

    I’ve seen this story all over the internet before. It also actually happened to friends of mine

  18. Mary J

    My family has been in the “business” for almost 50 years. We snake and high pressure- water jet sewer lines and install, pump, and maintain septic systems. We tell our customers that “flushable” wipes are not flushable. Also DO NOT flush anything but a single ply toilet paper down your toilet. It isn’t worth the plumbing issues. Do not use Draino or other over the counter drain cleaners. They can cause more harm than good. Also use a healthy bacteria like CCLS to keep your septic system working well and clean it every 2-3 years.

  19. KCNavy

    Sorry if this is a silly question. When you use a bidet, do you need a bunch of tp to dry off? I’ve never used one, so I’m just trying to envision the logistics of it.

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      This is a great question, KCNavy! It depends on the bidet you own. I have one with a dryer so you don’t need any TP at all. If you have one without a dryer, you can use some TP to pat yourself dry.

  20. Vanessa K

    I’m pretty sure I saw a news magazine story about these once. They backed a neighborhood system and they had reached it back to one house using the flushable, then the town gave that family a huge bill cause they weren’t suppose to be using them. I think it was a small town.

  21. Tricia

    My 95 year old grandma had to pay alot of money to fix an issue caused by her flushable wipes too. I felt so bad for her and wish I could have gotten her money back.

  22. KayshaDanger

    Got to meat the Plummer thanks to reflushable wipes! He said flush nothing but TP.

  23. KayshaDanger

    These companies should be sued. Seriously. You can’t tell me they don’t know that wipes shouldn’t be flushed!

  24. siena95

    How do you know they are flushable wipes causing plumbing issue and not regular wipes? Regular wipes don’t pull apart, (disinfecting wipes) and would definitely clog a toilet system. I never flush regular wipes but I do flush the flushable wipes. They pull apart easily so are closer to tp in feel. We are on a regular city sewer system. No problems.

    • Holly Kai

      You never know how long it will take before it causes a problem. I was house sitting for my son a couple of years ago. Their house was about 20 years old, they had been in it for about 7. Literally minutes before they came home, I used the bathroom – normal amount of tp – and the system backed up into the shower, the toilet, the bathtub and toilet in the other bathroom. bits of paper, mostly intact flushable wipes, poo, and yucky water everywhere.

      Instead of happily greeting them when they got home, there I was, trying to plunge, mop, etc.

    • C

      Call your city and ask… there have been many cities having to use MILLIONS in tax payer money to clear fatbergs (look up the one they pulled out of London! It was the size of a city bus!)… this means that money can’t go elsewhere (like improvements, social programs, etc).,, they know it’s the “flushable” wipes as the citywide issues only started after they were introduced (and most ppl don’t flush other wipes down the toilet- and if they do, they’re part of the problem as well) the so called flushable wipes don’t break down very fast at all, then they collect stuff in the pipes (what I’ll call gunk) and then they accumulate together and bam! Clog city! … also if you want to do an at home experiment, take a big bowl and put cold water in it, add some toilet paper, put a hand mixer or use one of those kitchen aid stand mixers; blend on low and watch what happens to the tp… then get dump it out in the toilet, put more cold water in the bowl, put in a couple “flushable” wipes and mix on low for the same time (like 30 seconds or a minute) and see what happens…. or look up the Adam ruins everything segment on this where they do the experiment and talk with experts (I believe it’s available on YouTube)… if you’re flushing these on the city system you owe it to the sewer workers to go pay them a couple of grand each for having to clean and clear that mess and then everyone in the city a couple of bucks or even hundreds for money of theirs you’re wasting to clear it

      • ladyashiri

        This! If you’re really brave Google images of “fatberg” to see what C means. This is why NOT flushing those wipes is so important!

  25. SueMP

    I am SO frustrated with these TP manufacturers making these “flushable” wipes – which ARE NOT FLUSHABLE.

    During the TP shortage, while I was at home around 9:30pm one night, I walked into the kitchen, and noticed a foul odor. Like – REALLY foul. But I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I walked all through the house, but kept coming back to the kitchen, and couldn’t pin down the source of the odor. I finally walked towards the basement steps (which run beside the kitchen) and realized it was coming from down there – and flashed back to 45 years earlier, when I was about 5 years old, standing at the top of the steps and looking down at my Dad, standing in the basement in hip wader boots, up to his mid-calf in brown, murky water. Raw sewage. The city sewer had backed up through the utility shower drain in our basement.

    It was happening again. Fortunately, I caught it before it got that deep this time.

    I called the city right away, and they sent someone out to check it out. Turns out there are 2 apartment buildings behind me – one with about 10 residents, the other with 20-30, depending on the season (a lot of migrant/seasonal workers live there) – and their sewer lines are all tied into the same sewer main as mine – and it had clogged right outside my house, causing the sewage to back up into my basement. The smell was horrendous. The city workers said it was mostly those *^&*%$# wipes clogging the main. It was clogged for a distance of almost a full block – they had to blast it with steam several times to get it to break free, at which point the sewage in my basement went back down the drain – but not before it had leaked out across the floor and under the walls in the basement, contaminating everything.

    The city workers told me to call the city in the morning to file a claim with their insurance, so I did that. The head of utilities assured me that it would be “taken care of”, since this was, as he said, “the city’s problem” – so I wouldn’t be out anything to clean up the mess in my basement, which would require gutting it because the walls and everything were contaminated.

    Wrong. The insurance adjuster denied the claim, based on the fact that there was no defect in the pipes that caused the main to clog – it was the fault of whoever was flushing the wipes – and since they’d never be able to pin that down, there was nothing the city could (or would) do about my basement. They even said they were seeing a huge increase in these claims – and my only recourse would be to file a claim with my homeowners insurance, but if I didn’t have sewage backup coverage, they wouldn’t cover it either.

    So….city sewage backs up into my basement through no fault of my own – but apparently no fault of the city’s either – and I’m left having to pay for the major cleanup.

    I seriously hate those wipes.

  26. NancyT

    Wow! That is top level customer service!!

  27. C

    I’ve been saying this for YEARS and occasionally I’ve posted on deals you’ve written about on them that they are NOT flushable (honestly idk how they can keep advertising as such- probably bc cities haven’t sued them for the clean ups which cost MILLIONS)… you should’ve added pictures from cities that have posted their clog removals from these things! Like London where it was larger than a city bus!!! Those sewage workers should’ve gotten a bonus! Also there’s a segment from Adam ruins everything (I don’t always agree with things he ruins, but this one I def do) on “flushable” wipes… I believe it’s available on YouTube

  28. Lizcycles

    We have bidets on all our toilets, love them!

  29. Linda Harrison

    Hi Collin, plumbers have always warned about using White Cloud. Doesn’t disintegrate like other brands.

  30. Maryann Cavlier

    I would love a bidet, but my only GFCI outlet is across the room. Sigh. I can keep hoping that someday I can get the bathroom rewired.

  31. Ann

    15 days ago I watched a CNA at an inner-city Baltimore hopsital flush my full sized, fat cotton maxipad down the toilet. It fell in the second day after my spinal fusion and I honestly couldn’t bend or reach to get to it. It was not really dirty and it was above the water line. She just went ahead and flushed it. She was maybe 30. I was mortified why she flushed it. She had two gloves on and a trash can inches away. She told me that she always does! How does this not get taught. Next time the sewer ruptures in Baltimore, think of this woman.

  32. SquirrelGirl

    While I completely understand we can’t really flush them, my son with autism absolutely CANNOT use TP. We’ve tried every kind. He will only use flushable wipes. Does anyone have suggestions on something else we can use? He 100% definitely will NOT use a bidet.

    • Sarah

      We use a potty foam that you can spray on tp to moisturize it. We buy it on amazon. I think it is called bodifresh. Love from one mom with a kid on the spectrum to another. 🥰

      • SquirrelGirl

        I have literally never heard of this!!! Thank you!!!

        • Sarah

          You are so welcome! Glad I could help!

    • Lizcycles

      I would just put a small trash can with lid, near toilet and use plastic grocery bags as liners in there and dispose of daily.

      • SquirrelGirl

        Also a good option! If that spray (mentioned above) doesn’t work, may have to try this!

      • debiannj

        I keep some sandwich bags in my bathroom. Wipes go in there, then in the trash. The really cheap ones.

  33. Susan B

    My friend has 2 daughters and problems with her septic system… turns out that condoms were the problem… NOT flushable and mad mom 🙄. Also Qtips…husband is contractor and had to tear our plumbing apart…. it was me 😬

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