Are Cottonelle Flushable Wipes Really Flushable?

Cottonelle flushable wipes

The short answer is NO. In 2013, The Consumer Reports conducted a test on flushable wipes from Cottonelle and 3 other brands. All four brands claimed to be flushable and that they are “sewer safe” and break up immediately after flushing. However, The Consumer Reports study suggested otherwise. 

There are many kinds of wipes available in the market. It includes baby wipes, cleaning wipes, and pre-moistened toilettes; specifically for restroom use. While a lot of wipes are non-flushable, many wipes on the contrary are advertised to be flushable – one that you could freely drop into the commode, when the job is done. Cottonelle wipes claim to be the latter. Go through this article to find out the truth in the ‘flushable’ claim.

Cottonelle says that its flushable wipes start breaking down quickly after being flushed. But according to a lot of experts, you should never dispose of the wipes in the toilet, no matter what the advertised claims are. While they may be flushed without causing any trouble at your end, they are bound to create complications in the sewer system sooner or later.

This is because you never use just one wipe. You tend to use several wipes each time. And when you do this, these wipes tend to form a layer within the sewer pipe, ultimately clogging it.

What are Cottonelle flushable wipes made of?

The Cottonelle flushable wipes are made with wood fibers that are 100% biodegradable. It is plastic-free, hence making it sewer safe. Hence the claim that they are flushable. The CleaningRippes finish in the wipes is designed for a soft and efficient cleaning of the portion. 

The absence of plastic content in the wipes means that there are no deterrents in the process of its biodegradation. Wood tends to act as a catalyst in the biodegradation process.

Do Cottonelle flushable wipes disintegrate easily?

To answer this question, we have to go back to the study published by The Consumer Reports.

While regular toilet paper tends to disintegrate soon after flushing, none of the flushable wipes that The Consumer Reports looked at in their 2013 study did. The so-called “flushable wipes” just did not break down at all even after ten minutes of the test. Not only this, the reviewer put the wipes in a mixer and ran them for 10 minutes. Shockingly, the wipes still did not break apart.

Ultimately, the testers at Consumer Reports soaked the Cottonelle flushable wipes overnight. Finally, the flushable wipes broke down, but this took close to 12 hours; something the brand claims starts to happen within a few minutes.

But having said that, it should also be mentioned that the flushability of Cottonelle wipes is approved by JEA, the community-owned utility company from Florida. 

In our “not an expert” opinion, Cottonelle flushable wipes should be fine to use if you are only flushing down a limited amount of them at any time since they would disintegrate by the time they pile over in the sewer system.

Are Cottonelle flushable wipes good?

The Cottonelle flushable wipes are alcohol-free. Hence it is soft on the skin and makes the skin safe from all kinds of irritations. Both adults and toddlers can use them without any issues. Moreover, it contains a mild skin cleanser, making sure the skin gets cleaned nicely.

They also do not contain any kinds of soap, oil, or artificial fragrance. It is pre-moistened and contains aloe and vitamin E. So, there should not be any question over its quality.

Why were the Cottonelle flushable wipes recalled?

In 2020, Kimberley Clark, the company behind Cottonelle flushable wipes, voluntarily recalled some of their wipes (sold under the Cottonelle and Gentle Wipes brands). These were manufactured between February 7 and September 14.

This was done since some batches of their products were suspected of being contaminated with a bacteria called Pluralibacter Gergoviae. It is a pathogen that occurs naturally in the human body and the environment.

Kimberly-Clark further clarified that the bacteria Pluralibacter Gergoviae is unable to cause serious infections in a healthy human body. But people with feeble immune systems might suffer from the infections it causes.

They also clarified that the recalling of the wipes has nothing to do with COVID-19. In another statement, the manufacturer said that there is no proof to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through their wipes.

According to some news reports, however, many customers who used their wipes before it was recalled had become “violently ill”. 

This recall had nothing to do with the quality of the product, otherwise.

Can you clean your face with Cottonelle flushable wipes?

Yes, you may use baby wipes, including Cottonelle flushable wipes to clean your face. They are, in fact, a great way to keep your face dirt-free.

The Cottonelle flushable wipes are hypoallergenic. That is, it is made of ingredients that are not likely to cause an allergic reaction on your face. Also, since these wipes contain no added fragrances, you can rest assured that there are no added chemicals that might cause skin issues, including rashes or acne.

However, make sure that you use fresh wipes directly from the pack that is still moist. A dry wipe does not clean your face and may have gathered dust and microbes from the air that can damage your skin.

Would we recommend Cottonelle flushable wipes?

Well, from a quality standpoint, Cottonelle flushable wipes are quite good – they do not contain alcohol or any kind of added chemicals and fragrances that are harmful to your skin.

However, if you are looking for something that works as advertised in the “flushing” department, then we are not so sure. While these wipes do disintegrate inside the sewer pipes eventually, they do not do so fast enough for us to recommend them.


Anand Srinivasan
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