My wife and I live in a townhouse condominium that is part of a homeowner association (HOA). The HOA sewer system terminates at a point that is lower than the city sanitation system. As a result, our HOA has a dual pump system that carries the sewage upward to make the connection. When the system needs repair, it comes out of our monthly HOA dues. Lately we've had lots of repairs. As it turns out, our pumps have gotten clogged because residents have been flushing inappropriate things down their toilets like mop heads or sponges. These costs could have been avoided. This waste is like flushing our monthly dues down the toilet.
I am always willing to do anything in the name of science. Having been a fan of the home version of The Late Show with David Letterman's running "Will it float?" gag, I thought I'd hold my own experiment: "Will it flush?"
I decided to test 4 types of materials (see below):
- Scott Bathroom Tissues
- Scott Naturals Flushable Cleaning Cloths
- Kleenex Tissues
- Scott Paper Towels
The first thing I did was fill 4 identical glasses with one and one-third cups of water (see below).
I then gathered samples of each material (see below):
- 2 squares of Scott's Bathroom Tissue measuring at 7.5 inches by 4.375 inches
- 1 Scott Naturals Flushable Cleaning Cloth measuring 6.25 inches by 5.25 inches
- 1 Kleenex Tissue measuring 8.375 inches by 8.375 inches
- 1 Scott Paper Towel measuring 11 inches by 7 inches
I started at 10:15 am on Saturday.
I placed one material in each glass (see above).
At 11:00 am (45 minutes later) there was not much change. I could have posted several pictures like the one above from various points in the day. Instead, like cooking shows that have dishes prepared in advance, I will skip to the end — 4.5 hours later.
I saw only slight changes until about 2:45 pm (see above).
You can see that the Scott Bathroom Tissue is the most broken down (see above).
Next in terms of disintegration was the Scott Naturals Cleaning Cloth (see above). They are indeed flushable. You can even see the cloudiness of the water from the lotion that distinguishes them from their dry counterparts. They don't break down as much as regular bathroom tissue, but they do break down. The package recommends that users flush no more than 1 or 2 cloths at a time.
On the other hand, the Kleenex had not changed at all (see below):
The Scott Paper Towel also had not changed at all (see below):
So the moral of the story is that toilet tissue and flushable cleaning cloths are indeed flushable. General purpose tissues (e.g. Kleenex) and paper towels are not. To shut down the experiment, I was able to empty the bathroom tissue and bathroom cloth glasses down the disposal. For the general purpose tissue and paper towel glasses, I was able to remove the materials, wad them up, and throw them in my green recycle container.
Flocculation is alive in the lab.