Dude Wipes Lawsuit: City Says Flushable Wipes Cause Billions in Sewer Damage

Dude Wipes Sued By City of Charleston

Charleston Sues Dude Wipes Over "Flushable" Wipes Causing Sewer Disruptions

Despite being marketed as flushable, Dude Wipes and other similar products are causing major problems in sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants, according to a new lawsuit filed by the Commissioners of Public Works of Charleston, South Carolina. The lawsuit alleges that these wipes, which don't break down like toilet paper, have led to countless clogs, sewer spills, and billions of dollars in damages for local authorities and the public.

The agency, which manages Charleston’s water supply, is calling on Dude Wipes to stop telling the public the wipes are flushable, because without that, they say the consumers won’t change their behavior. 

Dude Wipes Accused: Flushable Wipes Wreaking Havoc on Sewers?

Commissioners of Public Works accuse Dude Wipes of advertising the wipes as flushable and leading the public to believe they will break down in the sewer system, when in fact they’re not at all suitable for flushing and instead “can harm public health and the environment.” The federal Environmental Protection Agency states no wipes should be flushed, the lawsuit adds.

The commissioners say they have spent millions a year to remediate sewer issues and repair plant equipment damaged by non flushable wipes, which don’t break down like toilet paper and instead co-mingle and clog, causing large chunks known as “fat-bergs.” 

Without Dude Wipes changing their marketing and letting consumers know the wipes shouldn’t be flushed, they will continue to “damage, clog, and disrupt pump stations, lift stations, sewer lines, and wastewater treatment systems,” the lawsuit states. 

“Many may never realize the property damage and risk to public health and the environment caused by flushable wipes.”

The Truth About "Flushable" Wipes: Are They Really Safe to Flush?

Flushable wipes are moist towelettes marketed as safe to flush down the toilet, often marketed as giving a more thorough and refreshing clean compared to dry toilet paper. They’ve been marketed as being more convenient, effective, and gentle than toilet paper, leading to increased demand and a proliferation of brands creating the wipes. 

However, despite being labeled as "flushable," these wipes can cause significant issues in plumbing systems and wastewater treatment facilities, which the government has warned about for a while. They often do not break down as quickly as toilet paper, leading to clogs and blockages in pipes and sewage systems, which can result in costly repairs and environmental damage.

Can Consumers Get Compensation for Sewer Damage Caused by "Flushable" Wipes?

In a previous victory, the Commissioners of Public Works in Charleston successfully settled a major class action lawsuit against a range of flushable wipes manufacturers and retailers, including household names like Costco, CVS, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and Procter & Gamble. This settlement aims to ensure that nearly all flushable wipes available to consumers across the country will truly be flushable and that packaging for all non-flushable wipes will clearly indicate they should not be flushed. 

Additionally, consumers last year received compensation in a separate lawsuit against Kimberly-Clark Corp., the makers of Cottonelle products, after accusing the company of deceptively marketing “flushable” wipes for over nine years. Bloomberg reports that the settlement provided consumers with $7 without proof of purchase and up to $50.60 for those with receipts. 

Building on these successes, the Commissioners of Public Works are now targeting Dude Wipes, demanding they completely change their marketing and labeling to accurately reflect that their wipes are not actually flushable. The agency seeks to represent Sewer Treatment Plant Operators from across the country in this effort.

Case Details:

  • Lawsuit: Commissioners of Public Works of the City of Charleston v Dude Products Inc.
  • Case Number: 2:24-cv-02935-RMG
  • Court: U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division

Plaintiffs' Attorneys:

  • F. Paul Calamita (Aqualaw PLC)
  • Samuel H. Rudman, Vincent M. Serra, and Francis P. Karam (Robbins Geller Rodman & Dowd LLP)



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