Why You Should Never Flush Wipes, Even if They’re Biodegradable

Many people ask “can you flush biodegradable wipes?” The simple answer is – no. You shouldn’t flush any wipes! It’s good to avoid wipes made from plastic, but even non-plastic wipes should either be binned or composted.

Biodegradable wipes made with organic cotton, viscose or bamboo simply don’t have enough time to break down. Wipes capable of breaking down naturally will contribute to fatbergs and blockages. Composting is a natural process which needs the right conditions and environment for things to biodegrade back into their natural building blocks. Sewers do not provide an effective composting environment.

Natracare’s Safe to Flush moist tissues are the exception to this rule because they’re not a wipe. The Safe to Flush are a tissue made of robust paper moistened with a blend of organic and natural ingredients. They’re the first product in the UK to be certified with Water UK’s Fine to Flush certification.

Water UK recently announced that wet wipes account for a whopping 93% of the material blocking UK sewers! The vast majority of wipes on the supermarket shelves are made from polypropylene, a type of plastic. Wipes can also be made of biodegradable materials which aren’t compostable, for example viscose. These types of wipes can eventually break down, but not easily. Read the packaging carefully to see what material a wipe is made from!

Here’s how to dispose of wipes properly…

How do I dispose of wipes responsibly?

The solution is simple and cheap. Place two bins in the bathroom. One for non-recyclable rubbish, and one for recycling.

toilet beside a normal bin and recycling bin
Image Credit: City to Sea

Items for your recycling bin include…

  • Finished toilet rolls
  • Cardboard packaging from toothpaste, Natracare boxes
  • Recyclable packaging from shampoo, conditioner, shower gel (or try switching to soap and shampoo bars to completely avoid plastic !)
  • Biodegradable Natracare wipes which you can compost in your garden

For things like dirty baby wipes, and used tampons, sanitary pads and liners that you don’t want to compost, we would recommend sealing them in a compostable bag (or reuse a Natracare Maxi pad bag) and then throw them out with your rubbish.

Everything that can’t be recycled can go into the second bin. Make the recycling bin the bigger one as more of the waste should be recyclable that not.

How are Natracare wet wipes better?

As an ethical and responsible manufacturer of wet wipes, it’s our mission to be offer solutions which help reduce environmental impact. We commit to:

  1. No plastics! Not many people realise that wipes are usually made from polyester or a blend of plastic and viscose materials. These single-use plastic wipes are just adding to the increasing plastic burden in our oceans or on land. Natracare wipes are 100% biodegradable.
  2. A plant-based formula, with organic essential oils, all certified by the Soil Association. We already know that toxic chemicals can be aggressive for the skin, but what about the environmental footprint? The production and disposal of synthetic preservatives allows unwanted chemicals to enter our water system and therefore into the food chain. To find out more about this process of bioaccumulation, check out this video.
  3. Clear flush or do not flush labels on the front and back of Natracare packs.

non-flushable sign on wet wipes

Remember, only 3ps should be flushed down the toilet: Pee, Poo and (toilet) Paper

rethink toilet waste
Image Credit: Natalie Fee’s Ted Talk

A final note on “flushable” wipes

You’ll see on the supermarket shelves many types of wipe claim to be “flushable”. It’s important to note that water authorities don’t agree with these claims. The wipes might disappear from your sight, but sadly they don’t break down. False flushable wipes cause blockages that are costing UK taxpayers £100 million a year!

At the time of writing, Natracare’s Safe to Flush Moist Tissues are the only product of its type in Europe to have passed stringent tests designed by the Water Research Council, which replicate the conditions in the sewers. Only flush tissues with the fine to flush logo.

Flush Safely

The world’s first TRULY flushable wipe is here, and – just like toilet roll – is made of 100% tissue paper.

safe to flush flushable wipes

Save Our Sewers

For more excellent resources check out the following:

Read top tips on flushable and biodegradable with South West Water’s Love your Loo campaign

Join in with Marine Conservation Society’s Wet Wipes Turn Nasty campaign.

Learn “Why Plastic Pollution is Personal” in Natalie Fee’s TEDx Talk.

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35 thoughts on “Why You Should Never Flush Wipes, Even if They’re Biodegradable

  1. Val R said:

    Congrats on accreditation.
    Are your ‘safe to flush wipes’ made of cotton or kitchen towel type paper or both.
    Ive had a kitchen paper blockage and am still concerned

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Val,
      The Natracare Safe to Flush wipes are 100% paper (no cotton, viscose or plastic!). The wipes will be smoother and thinner than kitchen towel paper. They are designed to biodegrade and break down easily after use, hence the “Fine to Flush” accreditation on for them!

      Our other organic wipes are not suited for flushing: Baby wipes, Intimate cleansing wipes, and Makeup remover wipes are made with an organic cotton cloth. Again these wipes are biodegradable, compostable and plastic free. They are not suitable for flushing as they won’t break down quickly enough in water waste systems.

      • lisa said:

        Hi Natracare, are the makeup remover cloths woven or non-woven fibre? Can they be re-used?

        • Natracare said:

          Hi Lisa, our makeup remover wipes are non-woven organic cotton which are single use and home-compostable 🙂

  2. Gloria W said:

    Are Natracare wipes available in the United States?

  3. Brie said:

    If they say they’re biodegradable and made of natural fibers, why can’t the be composted?

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Brie, Natracare wipes are all compostable and should be composted!

      Biodegradable wipes should be composted rather than flushed. Biodegradable wipes don’t have time to break down, unless they are Fine to Flush certified, so contribute to blockages!

  4. Richard B said:

    Are the wrappers of your safe to flush moist tissues recyclable?

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Richard, the wrapper is BPA free and recyclable.

  5. Wendy said:

    How quickly do the “safe to flush” wipes break down – we have a macerator toilet and staff keep putting wipes in the toilet and they get caught around the blade. We need a product that will break down as quickly as toilet paper, or to get a whole new staff team!

    • Natracare said:

      The Safe to Flush wipes break down 15 minutes after flushing.

  6. Sharon R said:

    I can’t compost where I live and go to a lot of effort to recycle as much as possible! I only buy anything that can be used and consumed having no space in my small flat for any new clothes or any storage space. I live alone and as sustainably as possible and am disappointed to read even so called ‘biodegradable’ wipes can’t be flushed down the toilet when they say they can be on the pack!

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Sharon, the solution you need does exist! The Safe to Flush wipes are biodegradable and actually flushable – they have Fine to Flush certification from Water UK.

  7. Pat t said:

    Where can I buy these wipes please, my husband is disabled and cannot manage without wipes, but I do want safe flushable wipes.

  8. Megan G said:

    Hello I am trying to find information about composting the wipes. Can it be done only in industrial composting? Or can it be done it backyard composting with a container, worm composting and or trench composting? Please let me know which options would work and which ones wouldnt. Thank you so much for your attention to this matter.

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Megan, thanks for the question. All Natracare wipes are home-compostable. They are tried and tested in composting bins for the garden. Natracare wipes will also break down happily in compost wormeries or trench composting. Each wipe is 100% biodegradable so please use them with the compost method that works best for you!

      • lisa said:

        Hi Natracare, do your wipes have the EU home composting logo on the packaging of a green seedling? Thanks lisa

        • Natracare said:

          Hi Lisa, our wipes are certified 98% USDA biobased and are all home compostable! We don’t have that specific certification on the packaging.

  9. Buzzbomb 1 said:

    Can we use safe to flush if you have a septic tank? Many thanks

    • Natracare said:

      Yes, each tissue is made from 100% paper so will break down and biodegrade in a septic tank system.

    • Veronica said:

      Are these safe to flush Wipes safe to flush into your own septic tank? I read some reviews where they are not breaking down like they should.

  10. Marie-Claire G said:

    We have a biodisc treatment plant for our property, are these wipes still safe to use?

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Marie-Claire, I think to be safe you would be better composting biodegradable wipes rather than flushing them!

  11. Brad H said:

    The title of this article is ‘Why you should never flush wipes, even when they’re biodegradable’ but I don’t think the content of the article supports this title? You state that wipes cause sewer blockages, but you also state that most wipes are plastic-based. You don’t support how biodegradable products contribute to this problem. Why shouldn’t you flush biodegradable products, if they’re compostable/biodegradable? I appreciate your efforts to produce responsible products here, but don’t see you proving a correlation between biodegradable wipes and the sewer problems.

    • Natracare said:

      Hey Brad, the reason why you shouldn’t flush even biodegradable wipes down the toilet is because they are not made of one of the 3P’s – pee, paper, or poo. While they might not be made of plastic, cotton cloths do not break don’t in sewers and can cause blockages. We hope this helps explain.

  12. Su H said:

    Hi. Can the ‘safe to flush’ wipes be used in a composting toilet?

  13. Dinsdale said:

    I need moist flushable wipes. You say that your flushable wipes are made of 100% paper, just like toilet paper. I have tried moistening toilet paper and it immediately falls apart in my hand. I’m hoping that this will not be the case with your product.
    If your flushable wipes are not moist, what is the advantage of using them instead of just continuing to use toilet paper?

  14. Thomas said:

    Believe me, I an NOT putting two trash type cans in my bathroom because every time you open the lid to throw in your latest work you will be inundated with the smell of your past downloads. Those are not smells I want coming from my bathroom.

  15. Kay said:

    Are your safe to flush wipes vegan friendly? Thanks for your time and help

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Kay, Natracare Safe to Flush moist tissues are vegan friendly! All Natracare products are suitable for vegans 🙂

  16. Karen said:

    Please can you tell me if the packet can be recycled

    • Natracare said:

      The packaging is made from recyclable plastic (polypropylene, recycle code 5). Please check what types of plastic are recyclable with your local authority.