You’ve undoubtedly seen the advertisements for flushable diaper liners. The commercials make it appear as though these tiny, tidy inserts are an excellent way to keep your cloth diaper clean while removing the nasty contents easily and hygienically.
This has made them an appealing product to many parents, and also made the makers of said liners boatloads of money.
However, some troubling reports claim that these flushable diaper liners are anything but. Is it true? Can you really flush flushable diaper liners?
No, you should not flush flushable diaper liners down any toilet. These liners do not disintegrate quickly enough and can cause an array of costly problems from clogged drains to unnecessary plumbing or septic work and even major issues for local sewer systems.
As it turns out, the manufacturers of these liners have pulled a fast one on consumers, and it is consumers and city sewer systems that are paying the price.
The rest of this article will tell you everything you need to know about these deceptive diaper liners and how you should actually choose to dispose of them if you want to keep using them.
Why Flushable Liners Aren’t Really Flushable at All
To clarify, manufacturers aren’t being completely deceptive when it comes to these disposable, so-called flushable diaper liners: You can flush them down your toilet and the liners themselves will flush, as in “disappear from the bowl”.
But what happens after flushing is when the deception actually starts in earnest. Although these liners are marketed and illustrated as being rapidly dissolvable and biodegradable, the reality is that they are anything but.
The fabric material that these disposable liners are made out of does not break down quickly in water, despite manufacturer claims.
In fact, they stay together, more or less whole, for far longer than most people expect.
Fully immersed, these liners might take upwards of a year to break down to the point where they are not a major clog hazard.
Any time prior to that, they could create a huge clog in the piping of your home, your septic tank or local sewer systems.
Speaking of the latter, it is these flushable liners (and allegedly flushable baby wipes) that often create gargantuan, unholy jams and clogs in sewage treatment facilities, ones that cost cities hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year to deal with.
The bottom line is this: These disposable liners don’t break down anywhere near quick enough to keep from causing major disasters after they are flushed.
Flushable Diaper Liners are Environmentally Destructive
Let’s just say for the point of argument that flushable diaper liners get all the way to and then through the sewage treatment plant without causing a massive clog and without breaking down.
They don’t just then get to drift down the river or out into the ocean and dissolve into nothing like the commercials show.
Instead, like all other garbage floating around in our waterways and oceans, they will begin hurting wildlife, contaminating the environment and generally being a massive eyesore and nuisance until they are finally collected and transferred into a landfill.
But once they are in the landfill, things get even worse. Removed from the water, the sturdy cloth material that these liners are made from will last even longer, up to a decade or more. Funny how they don’t tell us that, huh?
This is where manufacturers of these disposable liners point to a convenient weasel word: biodegradable.
What does biodegradable actually mean? It means that, eventually, an item will break down into its raw or base materials and return to the environment, “environment” being the soil, the water, or whatever.
As it turns out, everything, even metal, is technically biodegradable! Given enough time, everything returns to the earth, so to speak.
But that’s the point, the manufacturers leave off the time factor in all of their clean and wholesome advertising.
Those disposable liners, once they make it to the landfill and get buried with all the other garbage, will persist for a very, very long time.
How You Should Really Dispose of Flushable Liners
If you have learned nothing else from what we have talked about so far, I hope you learned that you should never, ever flush these so-called flushable liners if you care about your septic tank, your local sewer system, or the environment.
But, let us say you do indeed like the convenience and ease they can provide you when it is time to clean up your baby. How should you get rid of them?
Easy enough: Just throw them into the garbage can. If your baby has made a particularly huge mess, you can scrape off the waste into the toilet before flushing normally, and then throw out the liner with your household garbage.
Now, as you might imagine, placing solid or liquid human waste or the remnants thereof in your “dry” garbage is a great way to stink up your home.
To deal with this, you have two options. First, you can drop the dirty liner into a smaller bag (spare grocery bags work great for this) before tying it up and placing it into the trash.
Alternately, simply toss the liner into your outdoor trash can for collection on trash day.
If you are still worried about odors, consider investing in a trash can with a tightly fitting lid to help keep them under control.
In the end, these disposable liners will still take up room in a landfill, but at least they will make it to their final destination without destroying sewer systems or being an ecological disaster in the water.
Flushable Diaper Liners Should Never be Flushed
Although it is a clear case of false advertising, you should never, ever flush a flushable diaper liner down any toilet.
These liners do not dissolve or break down in a timely fashion and are responsible for causing massive clogs in household and city sewer systems, aside from significant environmental damage. Throw them out with your usual household garbage, instead.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.