Flushable Wet Wipes Are Coming, But You Don't Have Them Yet So Don't Flush Any

By Holly Brockwell on at

Despite news stories, giant fatbergs, blocked train toilets and angry notices in student halls of residence, some people still stubbornly refuse to stop flushing their wet wipes.

Here's the thing: there are no flushable wet wipes, even if the packaging says so. The only ones that are officially OK to flush in the UK don't go on sale until next month, which means the ones you have now are definitely not OK in the toilet.

The issue with flushing unflushable wipes is that unlike bog roll, they don't break apart in the toilet, and end up bunching together to cause massive fatbergs like this really grim one from London:

The approved wipes are made by an organic brand called Natracare. The packaging will show a new mark designed by Water UK (an organisation made up of UK companies with an interest in water) denoting that they're fine to flush.

The new icon has been available since January but Natracare will be the first brand to pass the required tests to use it.

The confusion around flushable wipes comes from the fact that there's a competing standard created by EDANA (the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association). Products that pass its tests are allowed to say "flushable," and they do, but in reality a lot of them don't break down fast enough and cause major blockages. Many also apparently contain a lot of plastic.

Water UK says its tests are better because they accurately mock up realistic conditions inside an actual sewer (remind us not to visit the testing facility) and account for plastic and pollutants. They're so stringent that a single test costs £8,000.

Natracare's wipes have no plastic and can be composted. They'll be on sale in health shops, plus Waitrose and Ocado -- not the widest distribution. We'd hope to see them alongside unflushables in Boots and Superdrug before long.

The perfectly-named Andy Drinkwater from Water UK comments:

"Wet wipes, along with fat, oils and grease, have been a major issue for water and sewerage companies. Our new universal standard accurately analyses what is happening in the drains so that consumers can be better informed about which products are safe to flush."

Until you get your hands on the new wipes, don't flush anything you didn't produce yourself.