Can You Flush Kleenex Down the Toilet

Can You Flush Kleenex Tissues Down the Toilet?

Many don’t think twice about discarding materials similar to toilet paper by flushing them down the toilet. But if you’re a homeowner with a septic tank to maintain, you should know what you can and cannot flush down the toilet. Flushing products that won’t quickly break down can be a costly mistake.

You should never flush Kleenex tissues or anything other than toilet paper down the toilet. Materials like Kleenex, other tissues, and paper towels aren’t designed to deteriorate quickly enough when flushed down the toilet. It can cause issues with the toilet, pipe system, and septic tank.

Products like facial tissue, paper towels, and wet wipes may claim they’re safe for a septic system, but they won’t break down as quickly as toilet paper. In this article, I’ll explain why you shouldn’t flush tissues like Kleenex down the toilet, as well as the consequences of frequently discarding them there.

Will Kleenex Tissues Clog a Toilet?

Flushing Kleenex tissues down the toilet can cause clogging issues. As mentioned, tissues aren’t designed to degrade fast and can get caught up in the pipe system, which can cause clogging and buildup. It can take weeks to years before tissues and similar materials to break down in pipes and septic tanks.

If you accidentally toss a Kleenex in your toilet, it may not cause any clogging issues unless there’s already buildup and obstruction in your plumbing system. However, flushing them down often will undoubtedly create a costly problem for your plumbing system.

Only putting what’s intended in the toilet is the best way to avoid dishing out hundreds of dollars for a professional to come into your home to clear out clogged pipes and fix any other issues it may have created.

Why Kleenex Tissue Can Clog Your Toilet

Tissues and paper towels are made of paper material like toilet paper. However, there’s a big difference in how the products affect your plumbing system.

Many on the internet will provide you with a list of what you can and cannot flush down the toilet, with tissue and paper towels noted. Napkins are also a paper product that you shouldn’t flush, as explained in my article, “Can You Flush Napkins Down the Toilet?

However, when you ask an expert plumber, their “list” is extremely short, simple, and to the point, with the recommendation of flushing only 1-ply toilet paper down your toilet. The reason for this is that 1-ply toilet paper will disintegrate quickly after flushing it down the toilet. And  there’s no chance it’ll get caught in the pipes or build up in your septic tank.

Multilayered toilet paper like 2-, 3-, and 4-ply will take longer to break down and can cause the same issue of clogging and buildup, like facial tissue.

Facial tissue is thicker, and some manufacturers, such as Kleenex, add a lotion type of substance to make their product softer for their customers. Brands like Kleenex claim to be biodegradable, and that’s true when disposed of properly — in the trash, not the toilet.

It can take five weeks or less for Kleenex tissue to break down when in a landfill, but it can take years for it to fully break down in your septic tank. If it reaches the tank, that is.

What Happens When You Flush Kleenex Tissue?

Since Kleenex tissue doesn’t disintegrate shortly after flushing, there’s a higher risk of it getting stuck when venturing through the pipes to its destination.

If there’s a shift in pipe connections, it can become stuck, contributing to a faster buildup by catching debris that also flows through. It can also fully clog your plumbing if you have current buildup along the walls, bends, or connections of the pipe system. It’s also common for Kleenex tissues to get stuck in the toilet trap.

And if you’re not good at keeping up with the plumbing maintenance, you’ll experience slow drainage or even a sewage backup due to clogging. In this situation, you’ll need a plumber to diagnose and fix your problem, which can be a big chunk of change.

Signs of a Clogged Toilet

If you’re continuously flushing products that shouldn’t be going through your pipes, ultimately, the pipes will clog. Aside from a full obstruction that doesn’t allow the passage of water after you flush, there are other signs that your pipes are partially clogged or may have buildup.

The following are signs that you have drainage issues that need you need to address as soon as possible:

  • Gurgling sounds from the toilet or other drains
  • Foul odor coming from the drains
  • Slow drainage
  • Overflowing toilet bowl
  • Overflowing gully trap

How Long Does It Take for Kleenex To Break Down?

It takes approximately 5 weeks or less for Kleenex to break down when it’s discarded in the trash. But it can take 1 to 3 or more years for Kleenex tissue to break down when flushed down the toilet. The fibers and substances of thicker, soft facial tissue contribute to a slower breakdown in septics.

When Kleenex was established, its product was used to remove cold cream. It then later became popular with movie stars using it to remove makeup. Now, it’s a staple in homes across the country, especially during the cold season, to keep those sniffles under control.

So, Kleenex is excellent for nose drainage but not so much for toilet drainage because of how long it takes to dissolve versus toilet paper.

The Durability of Kleenex

As with paper towels and napkins, Kleenex facial tissue is designed to be a tougher and more durable paper product. It’s made of cellulose fibers that give this paper product its durability. Due to its strong fibers, it takes much longer for Kleenex to disintegrate than regular toilet paper.

Kleenex tissues will degrade over time, but until it does, there’s a high risk it will cause issues to your home’s plumbing system when you flush it down the toilet.

Because of the stronger fibers and other substances that make up Kleenex tissues, it can take years for one tissue to fully dissolve in your pipes or septic tank. That’s a long time versus the length of time it takes for toilet paper to disintegrate.

So, if you’re one to often toss those facial tissues in the toilet without thinking, you should ask a plumber for a product recommendation to help the tissue break down faster.

Some products are better than others at breaking down the material to prevent clogs and backup issues. But if you’re already experiencing slow drainage or a backup, you may need a plumber to break up a clog in your pipe system.

Quick-Dissolving Toilet Paper

The two purposes of toilet paper are to wipe a surface and quickly dissolve in water. And the best toilet paper for your plumbing and septic system is basic, lesser ply count because of how quickly it disintegrates to prevent buildup and clogs in pipes.

It only takes around one to four minutes for 1- and 2-ply toilet paper to break down completely as it goes through your home plumbing system to the septic tank. There’s also “septic safe” toilet paper that breaks down and dissolves just as quickly.

The higher the ply count, the longer it will take to break down.

And if you like the fancy higher ply count with the added “lotion” substance, it can take even longer. Multilayer ply toilet paper can clog your systems just as quickly as Kleenex tissue since it doesn’t dissolve as fast.

However, with toilet paper, you can leave the clogged toilet for 20 minutes to an hour or more to allow it time to disintegrate and try flushing it again. The toilet paper should be mostly dissolved at that point. But if you’re still experiencing slow drainage or it’s not flushing, break out the plunger!

Is Flushable Kleenex Safe To Flush Down the Toilet?

Professionals advise against flushing flushable Kleenex down the toilet. Even if the product clearly states it’s safe to discard in the toilet, it doesn’t break down like toilet paper. The slow breakdown can cause it to get stuck in your plumbing system, which leads to clogged pipes.

Kleenex states their flushable wipes are safe for properly maintained sewerage and commercial systems and will break down over time. However, these wipes are stronger than toilet paper and are made differently.

And like their tissues, it takes longer for Kleenex flushable wipes to deteriorate than it does for 1- or 2-ply toilet paper, even when agitated as claimed.

So, even if products like wipes claim to be “flushable” products, you’re better off tossing them in the trash to avoid the risk of clogging your pipe system.

Final Thoughts

Kleenex is a widely used brand all over the country because of its reputation for having soft facial tissues. And most people have flushed them down the toilet once or more than a few times. However, these products aren’t designed to be flushed into a private or municipal sewer system.

Additionally, Kleenex tissues are made with stronger fibers that can take years to fully break apart when flushed. Whether it’s whole or partially broken down, facial tissues can cause serious issues with buildups and complete blockages in your pipe system. Moreover, assistance from a professional plumber can be costly.

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