Don’t Flush Kleenex, Either

Don’t Flush Kleenex, Either
Photo: Studio Light and Shade, Shutterstock

Back in March and April — those heady, early pandemic days — nothing seemed more important than toilet paper. The stuff we buy with the intention of befouling and then discarding it suddenly became precious enough to inspire fistfights in the grocery aisles and out-of-control crowds at CostCo, and lots of people were forced to hunt for alternatives. The problem with most TP alternatives, however, is that they should never be flushed — and that includes a common one that you may think relatively benign: facial tissue.

Toilet paper may be plentiful again (have you squeezed your Charmin today?), but when we reshared this “there but for the grace of god” story about a reusable cloth alternative (no) earlier today, one of our followers on Twitter chimed in with an important reminder:

Now, I knew that, for the health of our waste reclamation systems, we aren’t supposed to flush wipes — not even so-called “flushable wipes” — but not flushing Kleenex was a new one to me. But the story checks out: Cynthia Finley, the director of regulatory affairs at the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, talked to the New York Times a few years ago about what to flush and what not to flush, and tissues were definitively on the naughty list.:

“Facial tissues might seem safe to flush because they look so much like toilet paper. But unlike toilet paper, facial tissues have been treated with a chemical binder that takes time to release and break apart when flushed, Ms. Finley said.”

Indeed, even tissue-maker Kleenex tells you not to do this in an FAQ on its website (ignore the fact that it’s in the context of telling you you totally don’t have to worry about flushing a “flushable” wipe, which you definitely shouldn’t do either).

I can’t count the number of facial tissues I’ve thoughtlessly tossed into the can instead of into the trashcan, but now I know never to do it again. Consider it added to the list, right next to cutting up the plastic rings that hold together soda cans (even if we don’t have to do that anymore) and wearing a goddam mask.


  • I’m surprised you didn’t mention the more efficient healthier alternative, which shouldn’t be an alternative at all, it should be the main stream choice which is known as the bidet, which come in assorted varieties from standard non electric, to premium luxury electric models with heated seats, blow dryers, water heaters, massage modes and also female friendly additions etc etc.

    Every toilet in our house is fitted with bidets and we don’t need to use any toilet paper, instead we utilize the inbuilt drying systems or our washer system to pat dry if we are tight on time 😉

    I mean seriously…its almost a crime you didn’t touch on the bidet.

Log in to comment on this story!