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Can You Dissolve Baby Wipes In A Clogged Septic Tank?

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Many parents are unaware that baby wipes should not be flushed down the toilet, even those that are labeled as flushable.

But we all know that accidents happen and this can happen even more often when you have mischievous toddlers in the house. So if the worst actually happens, can you dissolve baby wipes in a clogged septic tank?

We have looked at the answer to this question and also the effect that flushing baby wipes can have on your septic tank and plumbing system.

Will Baby Wipes Clog A Septic Tank

The simple answer is yes you can dissolve baby wipes in a clogged septic tank. Baby wipes can potentially get stuck in your plumbing pipes and cause a blockage.

And even if they don’t and make it to your septic tank the result is not much better. These wipes will sit in your septic tank causing it to fill up much quicker than it should.

What Do Baby Wipes Do To A Septic Tank System

Baby wipes can easily clog and damage a septic system even those that are labeled septic safe or flushable. There are currently no chemicals or products that can reliably dissolve baby wipes in your septic tank.

This is due to the fact that most baby wipes are made from synthetic polymers that are chemically bonded together into a durable cloth.

These take a very long time to breakdown naturally in a sewer system. If you unfortunate enough to end up with a blockage caused by baby wipes then it will almost always result in snaking or a visit from a professional.

Both options can be costly, time-consuming, and messy.

How Long Does It Take For Flushable Wipes To Dissolve

Even when baby wipes say that they are flushable it is not in the best interest of your plumbing system to flush them. The fact that not all flushable wipes are created equal or that they are governed.

The Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry or INDA has released a new set of guidelines called GD4, these guidelines outline a seven-part test that wipes must pass to be considered as flushable.

Any wipes that pass this test would not pose a risk to any sewage system residential or commercial.

But there are many who say that the GD4 test is not stringent enough and doesn’t really reflect what happens when you flush a flushable wipe into the sewer system.

Those wipes that pass the GD4 test lose 75% of their strength in a residential plumbing system within 30 minutes of being flushed. This is before it even reaches the main sewer system.

Finger pushing button and flushing toilet

Will One Baby Wipe Clog The Toilet

Baby wipes are not flushable and this means that they can cause problems especially if you have a septic tank.

There have been some tests carried out on baby wipes to see if they can be dissolved in septic tanks but unfortunately, nothing has been successful yet.

There is a chance that one baby wipe will clog up your toilet but it is more likely that a single baby wipe will not.

But if you do happen to flush a baby wipe and not have any unfortunate issues as a result then it is more luck than anything else. It is not something that you should make a regular habit out of.

If anyone flushes a baby wipe accidentally, then the chemicals in them can offset the bacterial balance in your septic tank.

The wipes can also clog the tank and it can back up into your home. In addition to this, they can collect grime and grease causing ‘fatbergs’.

How To Unclog A Toilet Blocked With Baby Wipes

If you are unlucky enough to end up with a blockage from flushed baby wipes, there are a few possible ways to unclog the toilet. 

  • If the baby wipes float and you are able to get hold of it, pop on a glove and fish it out. Do not try to flush it again as this will just cause a mother blockage.
  • You may be able to use a plunger to loosen the clog and this will help the wipes to work their way through the plumbing system.
  • A quick and easy home remedy is to straighten out a metallic hanger and use it to unblock the toilet. This method may take a bit of patience and can also get quite messy. But you should be able to hook the wipes with the hanger and remove them.
  • The best and safest way to deal with a blockage is to call in professionals. Plumbers can quickly.

The best way to avoid having to deal with a blockage is to simply not flush baby wipes and always place them in the trash where they can be disposed of correctly.

Will Anything Dissolve Baby Wipes?

Baby wipes and toilet tissue are designed very differently but they still perform the same basic task. Those who use baby wipes whether it be parents, carers, or anyone else, need them to be strong and soft.

Ornery baby pulling toilet paper off the roll

They also need to be cheap enough to use several at a time and no doubt a million times a day, especially when you have a messy baby to deal with.

For most of us parents, whether or not the wipes are flushable or biodegradable is not high on our list of priorities.

Toilet tissue is both biodegradable and flushable but it is not great at cleaning up a mess or wiping sticky hands and faces, which is why parents love baby wipes so much.

Although these wipes serve a great purpose in any diaper bag there are some issues with them in that most baby wipes do not breakdown quickly or easily.

The thing is if they did break down quickly and easily then you would be far more likely to end up with a big soggy pulpy mess instead of your nice damp cloth-like wipes.

Most baby wipes are made of a nonwoven fabric that is bonded together either by using a chemical or heat. This is the complete opposite of traditional woven fabrics.

This means that when you do flush this nonwoven fabric it can cause issues with clogging in both your toilet and plumbing system.

As this material does not break down in the water it also means that a chemical unclogger is generally not very useful or effective against baby wipes.

Most drain uncloggers work by coating the blockage and then either making it super slick so it slides right through the pipes, or they eat away at the ‘problem’.

But this does not work on baby wipes, mainly due to their size. It is also due to the fact that there is no weave for the chemical to work through and loosen up.

To be honest, if your toilet is blocked due to baby wipes using a chemical drain cleaner could potentially do more harm than good. 

Most uncloggers aim to not damage drains but if they are left to sit in pipes for too long there is the potential for damage to occur.

The next problem is that if the chemical drain cleaner does not clear the blockage then there is a good chance that someone is going to need to snake it to clear it – this may mean you doing it yourself or calling a plumber.

Whichever option you decide on someone is going to come into contact with not only the blockage but also the chemicals drain cleaner and that is not going to be a pleasant experience.

Will Bleach Dissolve Baby Wipes?

The simple answer is no. Even though you may see many recommendations to use bleach to clear toilet blockages, it is not effective at clearing blockages caused by baby wipes.

Ceramic clean toilet bowl in modern restroom with grey tile

Bleach works to unblock drains by combining with acidic elements such as hair to form water and salt and breaking up the blockage. The nonwoven fabric of wipes allows far less chance for this reaction.

Most of the standard chemical unblockers that can be found in stores do contain bleach, but they also contain other active chemical ingredients.

Drano Max Gel contains a caustic chemical and a cleaner to increase its effectiveness against regular blockages. But it is still ineffective against blockages caused by baby wipes.

Will Sulfuric Acid Dissolve Baby Wipes?

Cleaners that contain sulfuric acid will dissolve baby wipes but they should be used with extreme caution.

Protective gloves and goggles should be worn at all times when using sulfuric acid and you must ensure that the area is well ventilated at all times.

This is because it is known for reacting quite powerfully when poured into water and can create very dangerous fumes.

Another critical safety point is that you must never mix sulfuric acid with any bleach-based cleaners as the chemical reaction can produce a potentially deadly gas.

How To Dissolve Baby Wipes In A Septic Tank

Most homes located in city limits whether they be apartment buildings or houses will usually use the main sewage system to take away their wastewater.

But houses that are built away from city limits are more likely to be using a septic tank to handle their wastewater.

If your home uses the main sewage system it is unlikely that you will not see the immediate consequences of flushing baby wipes down your toilet.

However, if your home uses a septic tank then you are going to have to deal with those baby wipes that are flushed down the toilet sooner or later.

Most drain unblockers are not suitable for use in septic tanks due to the fact that they will kill the good bacteria that are working away in your tank.

Plumbing

But there are some cleaners that are specifically designed for use in septic tanks, these are unlikely to produce any huge results once they have been diluted in the full tank.

There is only one way to get that baby wipes out of your septic tank and that is to call in your plumber who can pump your tank. It is recommended that this is carried out every few years anyway.

The Final Thought

Baby wipes are essential in most households with babies or young children. They have a million and one uses all around your home and are a diaper bag necessity.

But for the most part, they are not designed to quickly or easily breakdown meaning that they can cause issues in plumbing systems.

The best advice would be to not flush any baby wipes down the toilet but to instead dispose of them safely in the trash to avoid any blockages in your septic tank or toilet.

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!