Swipe left on ‘flushable’ wipes. Why a bidet seat could save your bottom line

Now that we’re past the pandemic-induced anxiety over toilet paper, there might be a lingering problem in your bathroom: flushable wipes.

They might say “flushable” or “septic safe,” but Consumer Reports warns any type of wipe can wreak havoc on sewer and septic systems because they don’t break down like toilet paper does.

JEA has been warning neighborhoods for years. The wipes bind with other materials like grease creating what’s called a “fatberg” -- which can lead to disasters like sanitary sewer overflows. One particular fatberg in November in the Jones Creek area of Jacksonville (pictured) was as wide as a manhole.

This JEA photo shows a fatberg that JEA found in November 2020 in the Jones Creek area. It was as wide as the manhole. This particular fatberg created a sanitary sewer overflow (SSO). This fatberg was composed of wipes, grease and other materials. (Provided by JEA)

RELATED: JEA’s ‘What Not To Flush’ list

Consumer Reports says there is another option for people who prefer that fresh and clean feeling you get from wipes.

“Bidets are having their moment,” explained Consumer Reports Home Editor Haniya Rae.

She says the initial cost of a bidet seat might be a little steep but worth it. Wipes are certainly cheaper than getting a bidet, but some of the plumbers Consumer Reports spoke to said wipes are prone to clogs, even the flushable ones.

Bidet seats are different from a freestanding bidet. A bidet seat attaches to an existing toilet and uses clean water from your toilet’s supply line and electricity to produce a stream of warm water. Many manufacturers tout them as an easier cleaning experience than wiping. So, you might end up saving some money and reducing paper waste, too.

Many come standard with an adjustable nozzle, a heated seat and adjustable water temperature -- all operated by a remote or a control panel. And if you’re reasonably handy, most can be installed as a DIY project.

Consumer Reports recently asked more than two dozen bidet seat owners to share some very honest feedback about their experiences.

Many of them liked the $600 Brondell Swash 1000 and gave it top scores for installation, usability, water temperature and pressure, and stream angle adjustments.

“There are also basic seats that don’t use electricity. But no electricity means no warm water. Think about how a cold spray would feel down under,” said Rae.

Some nonelectric seats can attach to your hot water line, so it’s always a good idea to check. Nonetheless, many happy bidet users gave the Tushy Classic top scores for installation, water pressure, and usability, even without the warm water. Consumer Reports says it costs about $90.

Installing one of these bidet seat attachments requires a little plumbing. And in some cases, you may need an electrician if you don’t have an electric outlet close by.

Advice from Consumer Reports on installing a bidet seat:

READ Step-by-step guide | WATCH How-to video: