Flushable wipes

Packet of flushable wipes sitting on a toilet

Stop false 'flushable' claims

So-called ‘flushable’ toilet wipes are clogging pipes and draining wallets.

These products can leave you with plumbing bills in the thousands – all because manufacturers market them as safe to flush.

But now companies are starting to pay the price for misleading ‘flushable’ claims. The Federal Court recently ordered Pental to pay penalties totalling $700,000 for false claims about its White King flushable wipes.

With flushable wipes in the news, and Kleenex yet to face a court judgment, it’s time to make sure Kleenex stops the misleading claims.

Poor marketing tactics are costing water authorities $15 million a year to clear blockages in our sewerage systems.

Sign our petition to tell Kleenex to clean up its act and ditch the dodgy ‘flushable’ label.

We put flushable product claims to the test using an agitation device designed to provide a similar environment to the wastewater system.

We put 12 brands of wipes (11 of which were labelled as flushable) into the agitator along with 4-ply toilet paper, and ran the device for six hours.

What happened?

Within minutes the toilet paper started to break up, then disintegrated quickly leaving nothing more than milky opaque water. The wipes, on the other hand, remained intact apart from a few tears.

There was no sign of these products truly breaking up or even losing strength. According to the experts we spoke to, it’s critical that anything that is flushed disintegrates almost immediately, otherwise it’s likely to get blocked or caught in the pipes on the property where it’s been flushed.

We surveyed 1679 Australians aged 18–75 to ask what they think the word “flushable” means.

When asked, “If a pack of disposable wet wipes is labelled as ‘flushable’, would you expect the wipes to not cause any blocking or clogging of the toilet?” 73% of people answered yes. 67% said that they would expect these products to disintegrate “like toilet paper”.

For the humble consumer, as our research shows, flushable claims are confusing. Manufacturers are trumpeting words like “dispersible” and “biodegradable”, while the water industry urges the public to keep all wipes out of the pipes.

Plumber Darren Clancy is blunt: “To call these flushable is insane … they’re not breaking down and in some cases not even moving out of the pipes. I’ve been doing this job for 30 years and wipes are now causing the worst blockages I’ve ever seen.”