CM30 2 months ago

Given the issue is caused by a difference in standards, of which none of the 'flushable' wipes really pass, it seems the obvious solution would be to:

A: Ban all existing 'flushable' wipes and force a recall on those in shops, since they clearly don't work as intended.

B: Set out government regulations for what counts as flushable based on how the water system actually works rather than how the companies are currently testing.

If they're not truly flushable, then they shouldn't be legal to sell as such, period.

  • Volundr 2 months ago

    Harder since it involves changing people's behavior, but even more effective: bring back bidets. Better cleaning, and reduce waste.

agurk 2 months ago

I've read about these problems many times, and the official response always seems to be to encourage people not to flush them. I've not seen any numbers, but as these articles continue it hasn't yet fixed the problem.

There also doesn't seem to been an increase in the number of available bins in toilets, certainly in fatberg affected London. Perhaps a campaign for more bins in public spaces (including offices) would be a start.

Judging by comments from people who use them they'd be resistant to going back to dry wiping. Another option would be a campaign to install bidets like in Japan or hand water jets like Finland to provide better cleaning without the wipes.

  • ddebernardy 2 months ago

    A better start IMHO would be to ban selling those things altogether unless they don't contain plastic or other water contaminants. It's serious enough of an issue that most drinking water contains plastic nowadays.

  • jak92 2 months ago

      Another option would be a campaign to install bidets
    That would be nice. I hate having to use public restrooms due to lack of bidet.
    • ben509 2 months ago

      Or even a subsidy for bidets, since that would cut down the use of wipes.

    • airstrike 2 months ago

      Grab paper towels before going in, wet them with the faucet and boom. You have wet wipes. Just try to tear the paper towels in half before using them and you should be fine.

      • jandrese 2 months ago

        Paper towels aren't any better than "flushable" wipes.

      • kingnothing 2 months ago

        Paper towels are not flushable!

    • draw_down 2 months ago

      I have one in my home but don't understand using one in a public setting. That seems unsanitary to me.

      • newnewpdro 2 months ago

        You probably have a standalone traditional bidet adjacent to your toilet. I agree, that probably wouldn't be sanitary in a public toilet. People would use the bidet as a toilet and the stream of water would be contaminated.

        I think most people today are referring to the toilet seat attachment style bidet when they say bidet. The kind big tech companies like Google have been known to install on their office toilets.

        Those seem more likely to be sanitary in a public toilet, but I also think they're likely to be vandalized and broken/stolen.

        • draw_down 2 months ago

          No, mine is an attachment that fits under the seat. My concern is simply that you have a nozzle spraying water onto your body, and you don't have a way to trust that nozzle is clean. At home, you can trust that, or if you don't you can clean it.

  • cimmanom 2 months ago

    A lot of these are being flushed from private toilets, fwiw.

  • sadris 2 months ago

    Bidets work way better than the wipes.

  • weeksie 2 months ago

    Yeah, if we collectively stopped using barbarian toilets and got with the bidet program already this would be a non-issue.

  • onetimemanytime 2 months ago

    Dry wiping not going to do it, difference is night and day. Bidet is the best option. BUT, cities can force manufacturers, one way or another, to design a truly flush-able version.

WhatIsDukkha 2 months ago
  • usaphp 2 months ago

    I've never understood a hygiene factor of bidets, do you basically wipe your fecal matter with your hands + water? At my office I notice a lot of people don't even wash their hands after they used a toilet, I can't imagine how bad for other's in the office it would be if we had bidets - if they cleaned their butt with their hands instead of a toilet paper and then go to kitchen... We share kitchen afterall with these people...Maybe I don't understand how bidets work?

    • reubenmorais 2 months ago

      You don’t understand how they work. The bidet does the initial and most of the cleaning, then you finish off/dry yourself with toilet paper. You use way less paper though and feel way cleaner.

      • hgjwq 2 months ago

        It's... interesting to read this. What I usually do is that I clean my butt with toilet paper until it comes out white, I throw that paper in the toilet, then I wash my butt with soap and water, then I dry it with a towel. I wonder if I'm the weird one?

        • Volundr 2 months ago

          I hate to tell you this, I think you are. Most people stop after the toilet paper.

    • wan23 2 months ago

      Yeah, it's actually the other way around! If you had fecal matter on your face you would probably want to wash it off rather than just try to clean it up with paper. It's not like paper works any better down there...

    • vict00ms 2 months ago

      You don't. Your hands never come into contact with your anus or fecal matter.

      I've had friends react negatively to my bidet. I ask them, "If you needed to clean dog poop off pavement, would you rather grab paper towels or a power washer?"

    • rstupek 2 months ago

      Yep you don't understand how a bidet work. It emits a stream of high pressure water which removes the waste from your butt. No hand touching involved

    • onetimemanytime 2 months ago

      If you soap your hand before, that thing, essentially never touches your hands.

    • honkycat 2 months ago

      They are amazing.

      They power-wash your butt, and then you finish ( mostly drying off ) with TP.

  • psychometry 2 months ago

    Yes and they take about 5 minutes to install. No reason not to get one.

  • ldiracdelta 2 months ago

    I've owned 3 different toilet-attachment-style bidets. Two were this style, but after having a kid flood a bathroom ( streams of water are waaay too tempting), I went to an electronic version that has a weight sensor and a spray timeout. Cost is worth it if you have children around who may flood the bathroom.

    Bidets are also really useful for women after they have a baby and are recovering from the trauma as well as folks with hemorrhoids.

ams6110 2 months ago

I don't get the use of wipes. I have no trouble cleaning myself with regular toilet paper, which is designed to quickly disintegrate when wet. I don't understand what problem these are solving. If your stool is so soft/sticky that large amounts remain after you've used the toilet, requiring a pre-moistened cleaning towel to remove, you might want to look into changing your diet.

  • wahern 2 months ago

    I can't find the link but there's a funny story I read many years ago that goes something like,

    A man checks into a hotel after several days of journeying by plane, train, and automobile to [insert some "backward" country]. He's absolutely exhausted. He lugs his bags to his hotel room and crashes on the bed. He'd sleep but he feels disgusting--he's sweaty, stinky, and hasn't had a change of clothes in days. As much as he just wants to sleep, he simply won't feel comfortable and back to normal until he can take a nice, cleansing shower. He walks to the bathroom but to his surprise all he finds is a toilet. No sink, no shower, no bathtub... nothing. WTF!? Maybe it's one of those "European" hotels where the showers are shared. He walks up and down the hallway, but can find nothing of the sort.

    Exasperated and exhausted he goes down to the lobby to inquire with the clerk. Demanding to know exactly what he's supposed to do to bath himself--what anybody is supposed to do to bath themselves in this land--the clerk, who spoke little English, was puzzled. The traveler resorted to mime by pretending to wash his head, arms, and body as if using a bar of soap or washing cloth. To this the clerk perked up knowingly and pointed to a large stack of fresh newspapers.

    [end of story]

    The point of the story was to illustrate how backwards Americans are for using toilet paper rather than a bidet or hose like in many other parts of the world. I've never used a bidet or hose, but it's what prompted me to begin experimenting with flushable wipes. And I can tell you this: once you start, you can never go back.

    Using dry paper seems normal and you feel clean. But you'd feel the same way if you simply wiped yourself down with a newspaper every day rather than bathing with water. But the moment you begin bathing with water, the newspaper (or any dry paper product) will always leave you feeling dirty and unfresh. You can't unknow something--the experience is a one-way street. It applies equally or perhaps even more strongly to defecation hygiene as it does to sweat and body oils.

    FWIW, I doubt flushable wipes would be sufficient for those used to bidets or hoses. But at least I now understand this.

  • pytyper2 2 months ago

    Clean is a relative term. The reasoning is the same that you use to justify washing your hands with a mixture of soap and water, wipes allow you to use this same process to remove the fecal matter from your backside. If you missed while wiping with some single ply at a rest stop, would you clean your hand with only a dry towel? No, you would use soap and water. Even though you can't see large gobs of fecal matter it is still there. You try to make a strange point, the fact that some people don't use water to clean after is generally something that is reluctantly accepted, it is unusual to for someone argue that wiping without soap/water is just fine and to be preferred.

    • rconti 2 months ago

      There's the minor difference of what I do with my nether regions versus what I do with my hands.

      • pytyper2 2 months ago

        Out of sight out of mind I guess.

  • xenadu02 2 months ago

    You don't actually look at your own asshole.

    When you have children and wipe their butts a lot you realize how difficult it is to get clean even with a moistened diaper wipe. Even when they start having more normal stools or are old enough to use the toilet (but not to wipe themselves).

    Personally I installed a Toto Washlet - one with a built-in water heater. You get used to it quickly and it makes using a standard toilet seem barbaric by comparison.

gumby 2 months ago

These should better be referred to as "so-called 'flushable' wipes". I'm not sure you could really get a FTC action to prevent the word "flushable" being used my the manufacturer (after all, technically you trvcan flush lego or an M-80 down the toilet) but it's really terrible that they continue to print that phrase on the box.

  • minikites 2 months ago

    Lots of things are technically edible but can't be sold as such, I don't see why this would be any different.

wdbbdw 2 months ago

Instead of wipes, I take a small bunch of tp and just wet it from the faucet before going into the stall. Not as problematic as the wipe, flushable, and cleans better than the dry tp by itself.

  • jak92 2 months ago

    Doesn't work in public restrooms where they used the cheapest possible tp.

athenot 2 months ago

I'm on a sceptic system so I'm highly incentivized to not flush anything problematic… it will be mine to deal with.

But I am still amazed at all the work the water reclamation plants do, to somehow deal with all that is thrown at them through the pipes.

{{ Insert joke about piping to /dev/null }}

mc32 2 months ago

This wouldn’t be a problem in much of Asia.

People are used to throwing their toilet paper (and wipes) in trash bins rather than flushing them down the toilets along with excreta.

  • dre85 2 months ago

    It's the same in Brazil. All toilet paper goes into a small trash can beside the toilet.

    • ufo 2 months ago

      I have seen people advocate for this in buildings with old pipes but most places these days it is OK to flush the paper down the pipes.

      One thing to note is that bidets (the ones with the little shower head) are very common so hardly everyone uses the humidified wipes.

  • ltjes 2 months ago

    That's disgusting. I don't want to have a bin full of shit stains next to my toilet.

    • fcarraldo 2 months ago

      This is common in Africa and the Middle East, too. The plumbing systems weren't built with paper waste in mind. You don't throw "shit stains" in the bin, you use a hose or bidet to wash, then dry with paper, and throw the paper in the bin.

      Pretty straightforward, and not disgusting.

      • cuspycode 2 months ago

        The same applies to the island of Crete, so it's true in parts of Europe as well.

      • abdulhaq 2 months ago

        Yes and you also avoid a bunch of shit stains on your underwear aka skid marks

      • ltjes 2 months ago

        Why would you dry with paper, when you can just use a cloth towel?

        • Joe-Z 2 months ago

          Yes, "just use the public asshole-towel", says the guy who found the idea of disposing of toilet paper in a bin disgusting

        • cimmanom 2 months ago

          In a shared or public restroom? Eew.

          • ltjes 2 months ago

            Ah! I was thinking of being home.

            I don't care about public restrooms, I can take a shit in the middle of the bathroom if I want to.

            • darkpuma 2 months ago

              > "I can take a shit in the middle of the bathroom if I want to."

              That would be exceedingly inconsiderate, possibly criminal.

        • jak92 2 months ago

          You're going to wash this in the same machine you wash your clothes?

jedberg 2 months ago

I don't understand why the don't just put big shredders at the inputs to the treatment plants (and maybe along the main pipes). Shred everything to small bits, and then the heavy stuff sinks and light stuff floats, and then you can skim the top and bottom to get it out.

  • TylerE 2 months ago

    The whole problem is they make massive blobs ("fatbergs") in the pipes and thus never get anywhere NEAR the plants.

    • jedberg 2 months ago

      The article starts off with a story of a man who clears large debris from an intake filter at the processing plant. I was suggesting replacing him with a shredder.

      Also, that's why I suggested shredders in the pipes, for the same reason.

      • cpeterso 2 months ago

        EBMUD in the Bay Area offers free tours of their water treatment plant in Emeryville. Very cool if you are interested in infrastructure and don't mind some bad smells. :)

        • jedberg 2 months ago

          Maybe I will! I actually toured a treatment plant in LA when I was in elementary school, but I could probably ask better questions now. :)

gumby 2 months ago

Why don't they have the same problem in Germany where the use of wipes is extremely common?

jrootabega 2 months ago

   After Washington, D.C., enacted a law in 2017 to prevent manufacturers from labeling wet wipes as flushable, Kimberly-Clark turned around and sued D.C.’s mayor and attorney general. It contended the measure would violate the company’s right to free speech.

Good Lord. I'm hoping there's some more subtlety to that. At first blush it's hard to see the difference between claiming you're flushable and claiming your pills cure cancer.
praseodym 2 months ago

From the article:

> London has infamously suffered the largest fatberg specimens, one about 15 semi-trucks long, mostly made up of cooking grease and now partly exhibited in a museum. New York City has largely avoided the monstrosities by removing unwanted items before they enter the plant [..]

Isn’t the problem the blockage in the sewers to the treatment plant itself?

  • 51lver 2 months ago

    The problem can be anywhere downstream of the can. After a vacation, I pulled 12 out of a cleanout T in my yard from a house-sitter we won't be using again...

fatjokes 2 months ago

Fatberg will be the word of 2019. I first heard of it earlier this year about something in the UK and now it's everywhere.