Even if they are labeled flushable, can you flush baby wipes? Baby wipes should not be flushed down the toilet, contrary to popular belief. However, it can leave you wondering what happens if you flush baby wipes.
Dissolving baby wipes appears to be the obvious answer, but you can find not much dissolves baby wipes, such as drain cleaners often used for toilet clogs.
Besides this, regular tissue dissolves over time and can naturally unclog itself. Yet, stuck baby wipes, when flushed, clog your toilet, septic tank, and possibly local sewer system. Even then, they won’t break down.
In our guide, you can find out what many parents want to know and what to do if you flush a baby wipe rather than use a waste disposal bin. By the end, you’ll know how to unclog toilet clogged with flushable wipes before you cause any plumbing issues from too many wipes in the toilet. (Learn How To Unclog Bathtub Drain)
What Chemical Will Dissolve Baby Wipes?
The main reason to avoid flushing baby wipes is that they easily clog pipes. In addition, baby wipes are particularly harmful to septic systems as they kill good bacteria and cause faster waste build-up.
Bleach is a common liquid used, and you may wonder, can bleach dissolve baby wipes. Unfortunately, there is no safe chemical solution to dissolve baby wipes. Chemical septic tank treatments can dissolve toilet paper clogs, but not baby wipes.
Baby wipes are comprised of synthetic polymers linked to form a strong cloth. Sulfuric acid is the only way how to dissolve wipes in pipes.
Using sulfuric acid requires protective gloves, goggles, and working in a well-ventilated location. In addition, when put into water, it can emit harmful vapors and react violently when working in pipelines. Notably, never mix sulfuric acid cleaners with bleach-based cleaners, as the interaction produces a lethal gas.
Sulfuric acid is also harmful to septic systems as it kills beneficial bacteria and microorganisms and can make things worse, thus leading to professional help.
If you accidentally flushed wipes in the toilet, you can try to free the clog using baking soda and white vinegar. However, you could be lucky that the chemical reaction does enough to shift the nonwoven fabric so it can push the wipes down the toilet into the sewage system. (Learn How To Unclog A Toilet With Baking Soda)
Can Baby Wipes Block a Toilet?
Baby wipes clog and are not meant to be flushed. Even “flushable” wipes can cause obstructions resulting in a clogged toilet.
This is because the durable cloth should withstand wetness and use, unlike toilet paper, specially designed to dissolve in water. Because baby wipes don’t disintegrate, a few snags in your sewer system can produce a significant clog.
Never dump baby wipes down the toilet if you have septic. Baby wipes flushed into a septic tank contain chemicals that destroy beneficial microbes.
This stops the septic system’s functions, causing sewage to back up into your home. If you accidentally toss them into the toilet bowl, remove baby wipes from the toilet instantly before they have a chance to run around your pipes.
How Long Does It Take For Baby Wipes To Clog a Toilet?
On a technicality, companies that label their wipes as “flushable” do so. So, yes, you can flush these wipes down the toilet as long as you only flush one or two of them. However, occasional flushing wipes can appear to cause no harm, yet the wet wipes accumulate and catch other particles.
What happens when they leave the toilet and enter your pipes, septic system, or community’s water supply is a different issue, significantly if the situation worsens with repeated flushings.
Ways to unclog a clogged toilet with baby wipes
A toilet clogged with baby wipes is a headache. Luckily, here are the more common ways to unclog a toilet clogged with too many baby wipes.
When dealing with a clog caused by baby wipes, the first line of defense is an old-fashioned toilet plunger.
A plunger works by forcing water down the pipe, breaking up obstructions, and allowing your toilet to function normally again. To unclog a toilet with a plunger, follow these steps:
- Ensure the plunger’s rubberized end is firmly placed against the outlet hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl, ensuring a full seal.
- With both hands, grasp the plunger handle.
- Plunge multiple times in a short period of time.
To achieve a complete seal between the plunger and the toilet, you may need to swivel the handle up or down. When you pull on the handle, there is resistance, and the plunger flexes but does not lift away from the toilet. Once you have successfully broken the clog, the water level will drop.
Toilet augers, or often known as a toilet snake, is the most potent weapon in your at-home armory for removing obstructions in sewer pipes caused by baby wipes. A drain snake comprises a flexible wire coil with a head that catches obstacles in the toilet pipe and pulls them out. Follow these steps to operate a toilet auger:
- Feed the auger’s wire coil into the bottom of the toilet bowl outflow hole.
- Continue feeding the auger in until you reach the blockage. Remember that the obstruction could be deep within the sewer lines. To get to it, you might have to modify the snake’s angle to get it to feed through the toilet’s internal bends.
- Turn the plumbing snake handle to spin the entire coil once you’ve passed the toilet bends and reached the clog. Unfortunately, this will snag the baby wipes, which will jam the drain.
- Pull the auger to its original position through the toilet bends. The baby wipe clogs that caused the obstruction should be snagged, and you can break the drain clog.
- Toss the baby wipes that the auger snagged into the garbage.
- Repeat the preceding instructions if the toilet is still clogged.
- If you have correctly unclogged the toilet, the water level should drop, and you should hear the gurgling of water going through the pipes.
Because baby wipes do not break up and decompose, an auger is the best household tool for clearing a clog. The baby wipes can be snatched and pulled out of the toilet pipes to be properly disposed of. This will prevent future clogs and damage to the septic system. (Learn How To Unclog A Garbage Disposal With Baking Soda)
Lubricate the Toilet With Dish Soap
Another intriguing approach to deal with a baby wipe clog is to use dish soap. The beauty of soap is that it lowers water’s surface tension. This feature can be used to lubricate clogged baby wipes, allowing them to flow down the toilet drain further.
There is resistance when you pull on the handle, and the plunger flexes but does not move away from the toilet. After that, rinse the bowl with a pail of hot water and soak all obstructions for a time.
This approach isn’t 100% effective — especially if you’re dealing with huge clogs — but it’s worth a go. After all, you could even be able to unclog the toilet without having to use your hands!
Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid overflowing. Pouring too much dish soap and water into a fully clogged toilet may flood the bowl and leak onto the bathroom floor. On the other hand, you won’t have an overflow if you pour slowly.
Call a Professional Plumber
Home remedies for blocked toilets such as vinegar, baking soda, and hot water will not work if the clog is caused by baby wipes.
Toilet blockages are very common while using baby wipes. If your toilet is clogged as a result of flushing baby wipes, the following are the best options:
Attempt to clear the clog with a plunger or try a toilet auger to snag the blockage and remove it out of your toilet pipes.
If you have a significant clog, contact an experienced professional in dealing with these problems. To have the clog professionally resolved, contact a plumber.
Keep in mind that no baby wipes should ever be flushed. Even the so-called “flushable” wipes can produce major jams in the toilet.
When attempting to clear a toilet blockage produced by baby wipes, there are no chemicals or at-home solutions that can dissolve them. Because baby wipes are too durable for these ways to function, you’ll have to rely on manual methods to clear the clog.
If plunging your toilet and using an auger fail to clear a toilet clogged with baby wipes, it’s time to call a professional plumber for help.
Even if a plumber can pull out the baby wipes, he may free the clogged toilets, yet if you have a septic tank, it can be a sign there are issues there. Should this happen, then to pull out the wipes from toilet clogs isn’t enough, and you need to have your septic tank emptied.