Toilet paper is the only flushable item you can throw freely in your toilet, but even that has its limits. When you flush too much toilet paper at once, sometimes it can create a clog and halt the usual water flow.
Clogs in sewer lines are annoying, and they can cause a lot of damage if you fail to fix the toilet quickly. So how to dissolve toilet paper in a sewer line?
You can use commercial cleaning products or one of the classical bathroom tools — plungers and augers. If you want to know which products aren’t good for breaking clogs, keep reading to learn it!
Why Does Toilet Paper Form Clogs in the Sewer?
You know you shouldn’t flush baby wipes and condoms down the toilet, but human waste and toilet paper are supposed to be safe, right? Well, it’s not always the case — there are rare occasions when toilet paper can also form a clog.
You Throw Too Much in a Single Try
This is probably the most common reason why toilet paper forms a clog in the sewer line. When you flush too much toilet paper at once, it stretches and twists as it goes down your drainpipe.
It can curl up like a ball and form a clog somewhere along the way. Although its purpose is to decompose, a chunk of toilet paper will sometimes grow too big for the pipes to handle.
This is why you should always flush smaller bundles of toilet paper. It guarantees to dissolve waste and prevent clog formation in your sewer lines.
It Was Partially Clogged Already
Most times, toilet paper is not enough to block the pipes in your bathroom. But if you already have a partial clog down the drain, it may stick to the clog and form an even bigger waste ball.
When toilet paper forms a clog somewhere in the drainpipes, it prevents fresh water from flowing freely through the sewer line. The wastewater and all other contents in the pipes carry on their journey, but they go much slower than usual.
You should also understand the importance of prevention. Firstly, avoid flushing anything but toilet paper, urine, and feces. Secondly, use your favorite toilet cleaner periodically to eliminate even the slightest signs of new clogs.
6 Tips on How to Dissolve Toilet Paper in a Sewer Line
When you end up with a clog, you should learn how to dissolve toilet paper in a sewer line. There are six easy ways to unclog a toilet and make the plumbing system functional again.
Solution 1: Pour Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is a household product that you can use to soften bathwater, but it’s also an effective ingredient in many toilet cleaners. This solution works because Epsom salt dissolves quickly and thoroughly breaks down organic waste.
To break the clog with salt, pour one cup into the toilet bowl. Cover it with a bucket of hot water, but don’t pour boiling water as it may damage the porcelain bowl. Let the salt sink into the drains to reach the clog.
Wait for 30 minutes and repeat the process to make sure Epsom salt works. After that, flush the toilet and let it carry away dissolved items down the drainpipe.
The only thing to worry about is overflowing — if the toilet bowl is already half full, wait a little longer for Epsom salt to start drilling through the pipes.
Solution 2: Use Chemical Additive
Many commercial products break toilet paper clogs with ease. RID-X is one of the most efficient items because it dissolves toilet paper, grease, and waste that clogs the sewer line or septic systems.
Besides that, the process can’t be simpler — you only need to pour RID—X into the toilet bowl and activate the flush system. The product doesn’t take too much time to work, so you can expect it to break the clog in minutes.
If you want to ensure the clog is gone, you can decompose the last remnants with the second round of RID-X. It can’t harm the sewer system, and it guarantees to remove the sturdiest pieces of debris.
Solution 3: Remove Clogs With Dish Soap
Another interesting alternative is to use dish soap for removing clogs. It can break lighter waste, but that’s not the primary goal. On the contrary, the idea is to keep the clogs from sticking to the drainpipe walls.
To use dish soap for toilets, make sure you get rid of all water in the bowl. Use a small bucket and a sponge to pick water, and then pour a generous amount of dish liquid around the rim.
Let the soap settle down and pour a bucket of hot water over it. The next task is to flush the toilet — it will take dish soap further down the drains and help it reach the clog. The point is to make clogs slippery so that they can slide away on their own.
Solution 4: Vinegar and Baking Soda
A mix of vinegar and baking soda has always been useful for cleaning a kitchen, bathroom sink, shower drains, and toilet lines. To break the clog with vinegar and baking soda, you should start with 1/4 cup of each product in 1 liter of water.
Stir the mixture and pour it around the rim of the toilet bowl. Let it sink for a few minutes and flush the toilet, but don’t hesitate to add more vinegar and baking soda if you feel it might help.
You can also repeat this solution several times to ensure enough bubbling action, which should break down even large clogs in the sewer pipes. If you’re dealing with stubborn toilet paper and organic waste, this trick should work well.
But if toilet paper sticks to hard waste such as plastic toys or Q tips, the mix of vinegar and baking soda will not dissolve it.
Solution 5: Push It Out With a Toilet Plunger
Another way to break toilet paper clogs is to use a plunger. It’s a common household tool that can help you push water, air, or liquids out of your drains. How does it work?
First of all, place the toilet plunger against the surface of the bowl — it should stick to the bowl right above the toilet outlet. To do that, you need to place the plunger over the drain and push it vigorously.
After a few pushes, the plunger will create a high-intensity vacuum force that takes aways clogs, debris, and waste. You will recognize it instantly because the clog starts moving away through the water, making a gurgling sound in the process.
Sometimes it will take two or more attempts to break large clogs, but plunging still doesn’t require more than a few minutes. The solution is fast and efficient.
Solution 6: Drill With a Toilet Auger
The last way to remove clogs is by using a toilet auger. Homeowners call it an “elbow snake” because the tool can twist, turn, and fit through the main sewer line.
The auger is very long and has a corkscrew on one end, which makes it capable of spearing through clogs and picking up waste in the sewer lines. You should insert the drill into the toilet bowl and push it through the S-shaped trap.
Apply enough pressure by rotating the handle clockwise, but don’t overdo it — the augers are sharp and can scratch or even break toilet pipes. When the corkscrew reaches the clog, you’ll feel it slowing down and drilling through the waste ball.
Once you manage to pick up the clog, a little twist will break it into two or three pieces — they will come out of the drain in a few moments. After that, you can slowly pull out the auger.
Remember to clean the tool after using it because augers often collect debris on their way back. It’s a great thing for cleaning the clogged sewer line, but you don’t want the auger to mess up your bathroom.
Does Bleach Dissolve Toilet Paper Clogs?
Many households use sodium hypochlorite, AKA bleach, for cleaning their kitchens and bathrooms. In such circumstances, it’s natural to ask: Can bleach decompose toilet paper floating in the sewer line?
Unfortunately, the answer is negative. Bleach won’t dissolve toilet paper clogs because it’s not acidic — it can only do the opposite and make the clog even bigger.
When bleach reaches the toilet paper in a sewer, it doesn’t have the power to decompose the material. It sticks to the clog instead, making it harder and larger than before. That’s why you should never try unclogging a toilet with bleach.
The same goes for many other cleaning products — they can help you clean the toilet, but they can’t unclog it. That’s why you can’t use Drano in your toilet, as well as a bunch of similar cleaning products.
Will Toilet Paper Dissolve on Its Own?
Another reasonable question is whether toilet paper can decompose on its own. To put it simply: Will a toilet eventually unclog itself?
Here’s your answer — toilet paper will probably dissolve on its own. It consists of soft cellulose fibers, and those fibers will gradually decompose in water. When your sewer line clogs due to toilet paper, it’s best to wait for 15 or 20 minutes.
Toilet paper should dissolve and go away, so you can flush the toilet to give it the extra push. If it doesn’t decompose, you can wait for an hour or two more — that should be enough for a toilet paper clog to biodegrade.
Anything longer than a couple of hours is bad for you and your household. First of all, you won’t be able to use the toilet. Secondly, bacteria and germs will start growing rapidly. And thirdly, there will be the danger of overflowing the toilet.
If you realize that the clog is not disappearing, use one of the six unclogging tactics we explained above.
The Bottom Line
So how to dissolve toilet paper in a sewer line? You can wait for it to decompose on its own, but there are more proactive approaches. For instance, you can unclog the sewer line using a plunger, commercial cleaners, dish soap, or a closet auger.
However, prevention is always the best solution — clean your toilet periodically and don’t flush large chunks of toilet paper. It will keep your bathroom throne highly functional and prevent clogging in the long run.
How can you break down toilet paper in the sewer line?
You can break down toilet paper with different methods such as pouring vinegar and baking soda, Epsom salt, dish soap, or RID-X. You can also decompose the clog with tools like toilet snakes or plungers.
How long does toilet paper take to dissolve in pipes?
Toilet paper is biodegradable and dissolves quickly. The average toilet paper should decompose in 30 minutes or less. That’s why toilet paper doesn’t obstruct the sewer line and doesn’t form clogs.
Will Ridex dissolve toilet paper?
Yes, RID-X will dissolve toilet paper. It works almost instantly, so you only need to pour it down the drains and let it work. After flushing the toilet, RID-X should eliminate toilet paper clogs.
Can toilet paper clog a sewer line?
Yes, toilet paper can clog a sewer line. However, it doesn’t happen too frequently because toilet paper is water-soluble. In case it blocks your toilet, toilet paper probably got stuck to debris already in the plumbing system.