Why Not Use Wet Wipes On Cruise Ships? May 22, 2016 14:06

When going on a cruise for the first time, many people who are used to the luxuries of using wet or moist bathroom wipe products at home for good personal care may ask, “Why not use wet wipes on cruise ships?”

etiquette cruise ship wet wipe hygiene

It’s funny how people who use these products at home kind of know these products are often the source of plumbing problems since most do not break apart after being flushed like regular toilet paper, but they become more aware of this issue when thinking about the best personal care and hygiene when getting ready to go in a cruise. This awareness is a good thing, unfortunately some people “didn’t get the memo.”


Here at Etiquette, we have truly flushable wet wipe personal care products for at home and on a cruise ship


etiquette toilet paper moistener cruise ship

Many people who have been on cruises tell stories about how they were plagued by sewage smells aboard the ship. And some passengers have reported "overflow" in their cabins due to another passenger flushing wet wipes down into the ship’s plumbing system. Although you may not have experienced this unpleasant plumbing event, many have. Unfortunately the odor can last for a few days - even out in the open seas - since many parts of the cruise ship are essentially airtight to keep water out. The odor and possible “flooding” issue are not specific to one ship or one cruise line.

Odors can arise as a result of wet wipes in the plumbing system on cruise ships

The plumbing system on a cruise ship is a somewhat fragile system. It’s quite amazing when you think about it.  Think about the number of miles of small pipe involved that has to roll with the ship, while at the same time working with sewage that has to be flushed with a volume of water that is nothing like what is used on land. This is why there is usually a sign behind each toilet advising people what they must not flush into the cruise ship’s plumbing system.

Cruise_Ship_Bathroom Sign

The main culprit behind this problem is usually attributed to the use of bathroom personal care “wet wipes” being flushed down the cruise ship’s toilet. On a cruise ship, a couple of wipes can easily make for a miserable vacation for many cabins. We know this does not pertain to you since you are reading this post and taking an interest in this issue, but others may think the signs in the bathrooms are for other people and not for them. Not to mention, when in the privacy of one’s own cabin, just like the bathroom at home, people think they can just go ahead and anonymously flush things down the toilet that they should not be flushing.

Most wet wipes do not break down and end up causing plumbing and sewer treatment plant problems on land, never mind at sea

One does not have to be a plumber to know that even most wet wipes that are labeled "flushable" should not even be flushed at home, never mind at sea. These bathroom wet wipe products are causing plumbing, wastewater treatment plant and environmental problems around the world. It can take days to find and fix a plumbing problem aboard a cruise ship that could have been instigated by a self-centered cruiser who anonymously - and selfishly - flush-away whatever they please.

You do not have to sacrifice good bathroom hygiene on a cruise ship

Some people cannot go without their “wet wipes.” We understand, sorta…we just believe you should use the best wet or moist wipe for cruise ships. Yeah, that's right, an Etiquette toilet paper moistener product for a truly flushable wet wipe. 

etiquette toilet paper moistener pumps

Once you have become used to applying moisture to your backside for good personal care hygiene, going back to simple dry toilet paper is akin to returning to the days of leaves and corn cobs. Here at Etiquette, we believe we have the best flushable wet wipe for cruise ship passengers. But, having said that, if you must stick with your old-fashion pipe-clogging wet wipes that do not break apart after they are flushed, you must place these in a bag after use and discard them in the trash bin...that does not sound very appealling, right?

You should not flush these products down the ship’s toilet

The cruise liners inform travelers of this and there are signs warning people that flushing inappropriate products down the toilet can cause plumbing blockages that can jeopardize much of the operation of the ship. Nothing is supposed to go down the toilet except toilet paper, pee or poo. Naturally, that also means no tissues, sanitary pads or tampons. Cruise lines supply plastic “sani-bags” in the restrooms for one to use to dispose of the old-fashion baby wet wipes and other items along with a trash bin in each stall for disposal of these items.

Cruise Ship Toilet Paper

Cruise ships have specially approved toilet paper that can flow through the raw sewage lines or vent lines so they do not become plugged-up causing nasty odor issues that people naturally find offensive. Just like when people travel in a motor home or spend time in an RV, there are special bathroom supplies that are required for use aboard a cruise liner. The difference is, when the plumbing gets clogged and stinks up the RV, you know who did it, and you know who is going to clean it up…you. When it happens on board a cruise liner, it is difficult to trace the problem to its source; and you are not part of the cleanup crew.

Cruise ships use toilet paper that may not feel as soft and plush as what you are used to at home. Cruise lines use a vacuum system flush with small pipes and require special toilet paper in order to operate appropriately. It is generally a thinner paper similar to RV toilet paper that breaks down more quickly so as to not over-burden the ship’s plumbing system.

Etiquette "wet wipe" products have been successfully tested on RV and cruise line toilet paper.  We have truly flushable wet wipe personal care products for at home and at sea (although we do recommend doubling-over the TP for best results in these situations :-)).

etiquette flushable wipes cruise ship

How do cruise ships deal with sewage waste?

And in closing, what do cruise ships do with all the sewage they “collect” from all those buffet-eating passengers gorging on all that “free food?”. While an in-depth discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this article, a point worth mentioning is that the cruise industry has become much more environmentally aware over recent years.

Many passengers want this from a cruise line and will not travel with a company that does not also show a certain level of environmental stewardship. Recent cruise ship design promotes environmentally friendly waste treatment and disposal systems. 

Nowadays, cruise lines typically have environmental officers on board monitoring all things environmental including the waste management aspect of the ship’s infrastructure and function.

Many cruise lines present their environmental awareness on their websites and in their promotional materials. Here is Carnival's Sustainability Report.

For more information about the interface of the Cruise Line Industry and the Environment, you may see the links below:

Wickipedia – Cruise Ship Pollution in the United States 

Friends of the Earth - 2014 Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card

Here at Etiquette, we have truly flushable wet wipe personal care products for at home and at sea

etiquette flushable wet wipe