Don’t believe the label ‘flushable’: Disposable Wipes clog sewers and septic systems around the world.
Grownups are now using the same wipes once reserved for babies, leading to millions of dollars of sewer problems. Unfortunately, the majority of wipes on the market don’t biodegrade quickly enough to avoid clogging the pipes and septic systems.
Do a favor to the environment and your pocket book… dispose of Disposable Wipes properly.
1. Run hot water through the sink after each use….
2. Throw a handful of baking soda into the drain and follow it with hot water….
3. Pour 1 cup of vinegar down the drain and let it sit for 30 minutes; then chase it down with very hot water.
Most people use their garbage disposal like they would a trash can, stuffing veggie peelings, leftover food, and grease down the system. But the matter going down the disposal has to go somewhere — and when your house has a septic system, it all ends up in the septic tank.
Some of the matter can be broken down by the bacteria in the septic tank, but both the broken-down matter and un-broken-down matter accumulate over time. When we pump out a tank that has heavy garbage disposal use, it is very obvious inside the tank; often there is literally a pile of food under the inlet pipe of the tank.
Along with causing extra pumpings, a septic tank full of leftovers can overthrow your system’s bacterial balance, making it less efficient in treating wastewater. Your septic system will not function at its peak.
Garbage disposals can increase the amount of solids in the tank up to 50 percent and should not be used. Eliminating a garbage disposal can greatly reduce the amount of grease and solids that enter the drainfield.
Because a garbage disposal grinds kitchen scraps into small
pieces, once they reach the septic tank, they are suspended in the
water. Some of these materials are broken down by bacterial action, but most of the grindings must be pumped out of the tank.
As a result, use of a garbage disposal will significantly increase the amount of sludge and scum in your septic tank. Therefore, many states require a larger minimum size septic tank if there will be a garbage grinder/disposal
unit in operation in the house.
Some freshwater purification systems, including water softeners, needlessly pump hundreds of gallons of water into the septic system all at once. This can agitate the solids and allow excess to flow into the drainfield. Consult a plumbing professional about alternative routing for such freshwater treatment systems.
Water softeners remove hardness by using a salt to initiate an ion exchange. The backwash to regenerate the softener flushes pounds of this used salt into the septic system. There is some concern that these excess salts can affect the digestion in the septic tank or reduce the permeability in the soil dispersal system.
Do learn the location of your septic tank and drainfield. Keep a sketch of it handy with your maintenance record for service visits.
Do have your septic system inspected annually.
Do have your septic tank pumped out by a licensed contractor, approximately every three to five years, or as often as is appropriate for your system.
Do keep your septic tank cover accessible for inspections and pumping. Install risers if necessary.
Do call a professional whenever you experience problems with
your system, or if there are any signs of system failure.
Do keep a detailed record of repairs, pumping, inspections, permits issued, and other maintenance activities.
Do conserve water to avoid overloading the system. Be sure to repair any leaky faucets or toilets.
Do divert other sources of water, like roof drains, house footing drains, and sump pumps, away from the septic system. Excessive water keeps the soil
in the drainfield from naturally cleansing the wastewater.
Don’t go down into a septic tank. Toxic gases are produced by the natural treatment processes in septic tanks and can kill in minutes. Extreme care should be taken when inspecting a septic tank, even when just looking in.
Don’t allow anyone to drive or park over any part of the system.
Don’t plant anything over or near the drainfield except grass. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs may clog and damage the drain lines.
Don’t dig in your drainfield or build anything over it, and don’t cover the drainfield with a hard surface such as concrete or asphalt. The area over the drainfield should have only a grass cover. The grass will not only prevent erosion, but will help remove excess water.
Don’t make or allow repairs to your septic system without obtaining the required health department permit. Use professional licensed onsite contractors when needed.
Don’t use septic tank additives. Under normal operating conditions, these products usually do not help and some may even be harmful to your system.
Don’t use your toilet as a trash can or poison your septic system and the groundwater by pouring harmful chemicals and cleansers down the drain. Harsh chemicals can kill the beneficial bacteria that treat your wastewater.
Don’t use a garbage disposal without checking with your local regulatory agency to make sure that your septic system can accommodate this additional
Don’t allow backwash from home water softeners to enter the septic system.
Our home toilets are not trash cans made for dumping personal care and hygiene products. Here’s what you shouldn’t flush down the loo.
There are only three things that you can flush down the toilet – urine, feces and toilet paper. In other words, human waste, or the three Ps: pee, poo, and paper.
The wastewater journey usually takes one of two directions. It either heads by way of a pipe to your community’s local sewer, or into a septic tank close to your home.
Before it reaches your local treatment plant, wastewater goes through a screen of metal rods that filter larger objects and items that get into the sewers. From there, it all goes to the settling tank where solids like sand and gravel that have been picked along the way settle to the bottom.
These early treatment stations are also responsible for removing other “flushables.” Did you know that 50 percent of the so-called non-dispersible material in wastewater is paper towels from public restrooms, followed by 25 percent of baby wipes, and then a mixture of condoms, cosmetic wipes, tampon applicators, and other items’?
Finally, and after traveling through the primary sedimentation tanks, wastewater continues its cleaning process via aeration tanks, new settling tanks and, in some cases, tertiary treatment facilities where it is disinfected with chlorine and/or ultraviolet (UV) light.
In the end, and in the most advanced sewage treatment systems, we may get recycled water that can be used in agriculture or for human consumption.
However, no sewage system is perfect. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only 27 percent of the global population (around 1.9 billion people) use private sanitation facilities connected to sewers from which wastewater is treated.
We all made mistakes, and we can all change our daily habits. Even if it takes time. It is just a matter of thinking twice before flushing the toilet.
Remember that by adopting new behaviors you are reducing the amount of toxic and potentially harmful objects and chemicals that interact with water and marine life.
Whenever you’re flushing these 20 items down the toilet, you’re not only damaging plumbing but also polluting your local water resources.
Some of them are quite obvious, but there are also a few that we thought were good to go, but should never enter the sewage system.
Instruct your children to follow good practices in the bathroom. Avoid flushing the following items down the toilet:
1. Paper Towels
Surprised? Don’t be. Yes, they look and feel like toilet paper, but they should never go down the toilet. Believe it or not, paper towels do not have the same characteristics as toilet paper and do not disintegrate easily down the sewer line.
2. Cosmetic Wipes
Wet wipes are one of the worst problems in modern sanitary systems. They are responsible for causing half of the global blockages that lead to build-ups of fat, also known as fatbergs. Cosmetic wipes do not dissolve in water and have a very negative impact on the sewage treatment process.
3. Baby Wipes
They’re smooth, gentle, and soft but they don’t break down like toilet tissue. And just because wipes are harmful to babies, it doesn’t mean they won’t hurt the environment. Baby wipes are not decomposable, so they shouldn’t be flushed.\
Not only it is disgusting because they wind up in public waterways, but they’re also non-biodegradable. Latex causes severe problems in the sewer network, so keep it private and dump it in the garbage.
5. Tampons and Pads
The disposal of feminine products has always been a problem for women. But they’re also an issue for plumbing because they can rapidly obstruct the pipes. Wrap your tampons or pads, put them in a small sanitary bag, and then dump them in the trash can.
6. Dental Floss
Dental floss is usually made of Teflon or nylon. When flushed down, it mixes with wet wipes, paper towels, hair and other items, creating huge balls that will clog pumps and sewers.
7. Contact Lenses
Around 125 million people use contact lenses on a daily basis worldwide. As a result, billions of daily contacts go down the toilet every year. But what few people know is that discarding used lenses down the drain contributes to the creation of trillions of microplastics, one of the major environmental concerns in today’s world.
8. Cotton Swabs
They’re small and flexible, block drains, and don’t break down quickly. Cotton swabs are responsible for many clogged toilets.
Yes, there are still people who flush diapers down the toilet. And those who do it will clog a toilet in no time. To get things worse, modern baby diapers are made from materials that will expand when in contact with water.
They’re soft, delicate and absorbent. But tissues won’t disintegrate like toilet paper. Do you have a cold? Sneeze or cough into a tissue, but then throw it in the trash can.
Expired medication or recently used pharmaceuticals should never be flushed down the toilet because they will contaminate the wastewater even more. Ultimately, it will have a toxic impact on the water resources and the water you drink. So, if you’ve got pills, sedatives, antibiotics, antidepressants, painkillers, and other drugs that you want to get rid of, just pour them into a bag, close it, and throw it in the garbage.
12. Cigarette Butts
Cigarette butts are a plague. They’re everywhere – on the beach, on the streets, and in the water. A cigarette butt is comprised of a filter made from cellulose acetate, two layers of wrapping made of paper and/or rayon, nicotine, carcinogens, and hundreds of toxins.
Just because it’s organic matter, it doesn’t mean it won’t hurt the environment. Unfortunately, it does. In a way similar to dental floss, hair helps form giant balls which create massive blockages in the sewage network but also traps unwanted odors in your plumbing. Whenever you’re combing your hair or cleaning your brushes, remember to keep it away from the toilet.
14. Chewing Gums
As a cohesive substance, gum is a bit like glue. And it gets stuck in the pipes, blocking the natural flow of wastewater. The gum goes in the bin.
15. Cooking Grease and Oil
When fat solidifies, it becomes hard as a rock. Now, imagine the impact of that scenario in your plumbing system.
Pouring bleach is a disastrous idea. Not only it can be extremely corrosive and damage your pipes, but it can also react with other substances in your plumbing, creating and releasing toxic fumes.
Band-aids are primarily made from non-biodegradable plastic, and they shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet. Their place is in the trash.
Paint is a complex mixture of pigments and extenders, binders, solvents, and additives. Some leftover house paints can be considered hazardous waste. Try to find a paint drop-off site where you can leave it to rest.
19. Cat Litter
Cat waste may contain the Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that affects humans with compromised immune systems. And because many water treatment plants can’t handle these kinds of pollutants, dumping parasitic infections into the waterways represents a threat to public health.