Can You Flush Kleenex? (And Reasons Not to Flush)

With statistics suggesting that up to 170.79 million Americans used Kleenex in 2020, it’s undoubtedly clear that Kleenex makes a favorite facial tissue for many – and with some good reasons.

Kleenex does a great job of absorbing liquid and it’s gentle on your skin, making it a popular choice for everyone, including those with sensitive skin. But what happens when you’re done with your Kleenex and need to throw it away? Can you flush it down the toilet?

Well, that’s one of the questions most people ask. And while we all might have flushed Kleenex down the toilet at some point, it’s always wise to find out whether or not it’s the safe thing to do. Read on to find out!

Can You Flush Kleenex Down The Toilet?

Unfortunately, you can’t flush Kleenex down the toilet. Kleenex’s biodegradable cellulose fibers have an additive that prevents them from breaking down as rapidly as the bathroom tissue. As such, Kleenex will cause your septic system issues, so avoid disposing of it in your toilet.

To begin with, Kleenex shares lots of similarities with normal tissue. For instance, both are made of cellulose, a plant-based fiber. Cellulose is what gives both tissues their softness and absorbency.

Even so, it’s worth acknowledging that there are lots of differences between the two. But the main one is that Kleenex has an additive called sodium polyacrylate.

This additive delays the biodegradation process of the tissue. Hence, Kleenex takes longer than normal tissue to break down. Usually, standard toilet paper disintegrates within a few weeks.

Reasons Why You Should Not Flush Kleenex Down The Toilet

The main reason why you shouldn’t flush Kleenex down the toilet is that your toilet isn’t intended to work with such. Your bathroom is ideally meant for human waste, water, (standard) tissue paper, and a few other items. Anything else, and you’re asking for trouble. 

One fact; we’ve all subscribed to the age-old practice of flushing things down the toilet. And while that works well for some items, we have a few things that should never find their way down there.

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When you flush things like sanitary napkins, tampons, cotton balls, and of course, Kleenex down the toilet, you’re essentially asking your septic system to do more than it was meant to. And that’s not a good thing.

Sure, Kleenex is a type of tissue. In fact, most people use them as substitutes. However, that shouldn’t lure you into believing that this product is safe for flushing down your toilet. Unlike the standard toilet paper, Kleenex isn’t any closer to being friendly to your toilet piping system.

And as aforesaid, that has to do with the additive in the product. This compound affects the biodegradability of the item.

And as we all know, biodegradability is an essential aspect of flushing anything down the toilet. If an item can easily break down, then it won’t cause any harm to your plumbing system.

And so, the fact that the additive in Kleenex prevents it from being readily biodegradable means that this facial tissue isn’t something to flush down your toilet system.

What Happens When You Flush Kleenex Down The Toilet?

When you flush Kleenex down the toilet, you can expect it to cause issues to your plumbing system. Sure, once or twice will likely not harm. However, if you keep flushing Kleenex down your toilet regularly, expect to start seeing the consequences.

Here are some of the possible outcomes;

1. Kleenex Can Cause Clogging

The additive in Kleenex prevents it from breaking down rapidly like normal tissue, just as earlier said. While that’s a good feature for its primary use, it becomes a problem when you flush it down the toilet.

The problem with flushing things that take a long time to biodegrade is that they can accumulate with time to form clumps or balls in your piping system. These clumps will eventually block the system, leading to severe problems.

You might think that one or two Kleenex tissues won’t do any harm. But again, remember that if all of the 170.79 million users each chose to do the same, the outcome could be catastrophic.

And just so you know, clogs resulting from Kleenex are often tricky – and sometimes impossible – to remove on your own.

So not only will flushing Kleenex cause your toilet to back up, but it may also require you to call in a professional to help get your plumbing system back up and running.

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2. It Can Cause Environmental Damage

Some of the compounds in Kleenex, like sodium polyacrylate, can cause environmental damage.

When flushed down the toilet, these compounds can end up in water bodies and even in the soil. From there, they can easily leach into the groundwater and contaminate it.

So, flushing Kleenex down the toilet is a threat to your plumbing system, but it’s also a threat to the environment. So again, just refrain from disposing of this facial tissue in your toilet system.

What To Do When You Flush Kleenex Down The Toilet?

Unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do when you flush Kleenex down the toilet. As such, you should ensure that you seriously take the precaution of not flushing it down your toilet in the first place.

You see, there’s not much you can do to make flushing Kleenex down the toilet safe. Therefore, under no circumstance should you dispose of this facial tissue through your toilet system.

And as we have already said, if you are the only one doing it, one or two tissues are unlikely to do any harm. But if you flush Kleenex regularly, you can expect to start to encounter the consequences in the form of clogging and environmental damage.

Even so, we encourage you to keep a keen eye on your toilet system after you accidentally dispose of Kleenex or any other non-flushable item. If you see any problems, do not hesitate to call a professional.

If you don’t notice any, then count yourself lucky. But ensure that you refrain from the habit and opt for other safe ways of getting rid of Kleenex.

Will Kleenex Eventually Dissolve?

Yes, Kleenex will eventually dissolve. But as we have already said, don’t expect it to happen as soon as you flush it down the toilet. The additive part of the tissue affects its biodegradability aspect, extending the time it takes for it to dissolve completely.

So yes, as much as we highly discourage you from disposing of Kleenex in your toilet, it will still dissolve in water. The only problem is that it won’t happen anytime soon after flushing it down the toilet.

Usually, a standard toilet paper will take an average of 6 weeks for it to dissolve. However, that’s not the case with Kleenex. For this product, it takes some extra bit of patience.

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To bring you into perspective, Kleenex could even require as many as 18 months before it completely disintegrates, especially if the type you are using is thicker than the tissue paper. That’s quite long and will allow for Kleenex clumps to form in your piping system.

Ways To Dispose of Kleenex

According to the manufacturer’s FAQ section, the best way to dispose of Kleenex is by putting it in the trash can. That way, you can avoid clogging your toilet, harming the environment, and other possible consequences.

You see, the manufacturer is crystal clear that Kleenex won’t break down readily like other “flushable” items. As such, Kleenex recommends that you avoid flushing this facial tissue down your toilet piping. Instead, the producer suggests that you toss the used Kleenex into a trash can.

Just make sure that you wrap the Kleenex in a plastic bag before you put it in the trash can. And if you have a compost bin, then feel free to compost your used Kleenex.

Using either of these methods is the safest way and will help keep your toilet system in the best condition.

But again, it’s worth pointing out that Kleenex isn’t the only threat to your septic system’s well-being.

If you have to keep your toilet plumping system in the best condition, it’s best to avoid any non-flushable item. That includes;

  • Wipes
  • Napkins
  • Foods
  • Grease, Oil, and Fats
  • Pet litter
  • Hair
  • Cotton Balls
  • Tampons
  • Pads
  • Medication
  • Cigarette butts
  • Any other non-flushable item

When flushed down your toilet, either of these items can cause clogging, back-ups, and other serious plumbing problems. When either of these happens, you can expect to see the bill for the repair.

And as we all know, prevention is always better than cure. So please be mindful of the items you are flushing down your toilet.

Conclusion

To sum it up, Kleenex is not 100% flushable. While it will eventually dissolve in water, it will take some time, owing to the additive it contains. And during that time, it can easily cause clogging and other damage to your toilet system.

The best way to avoid all of these is by disposing of Kleenex in the trash can. In fact, that’s what the manufacturer recommends. So yes, treat it just as you would any other non-flushable item.

About Sarah Walker

Sarah is a homemaker and is passionate about fixing little things in and around her house. She loves to do DIY hacks and keeps on writing about those things in her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her twins Cathy and Mickey.