As you stand before the swirling water of your toilet bowl, you cross your fingers and whisper a silent plea to the plumbing gods. Please go down… but alas, it doesn’t, and you find your toilet is clogged.
We’ve all been there, watching with bated breath as the water rises like a slow-motion tsunami. Out comes your phone as you quickly type… how to dissolve toilet paper in sewer line fast.
Dealing with a clog in your sewer line is a situation nobody wants to find themselves in. If this has happened to you, there are some quick home remedies you can try.
You may already have some of these household products, so before you call the plumber or duck to the hardware store, try these DIY tips to dissolve a toilet paper clog:
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What Will Dissolve Toilet Paper in Sewer Lines?
If you have a blockage, you may find toilet paper is the culprit. Here are six easy ways to unclog a toilet and make the plumbing system functional again.
1. Hot Water and Dish Soap
- What to do: Remove as much water from the toilet bowl as possible. Turn off the water to the toilet at the supply line. Squirt a generous amount of dish soap into the toilet bowl (around half a cup) and let it sit for 30 minutes before flushing it with hot water.
- Why it works: Soap can act as a lubricant and help break down the toilet tissue.
- Tip: Use biodegradable soap to be kinder to the environment. Avoid antibacterial soap as it can interfere with the sewage treatment process.
If you’re dealing with a stubborn toilet paper clog, using dish soap (#CommissionsEarned) can be an effective and gentle way to help clear your sewer line. The soap works by softening the toilet paper and making it less sticky.
After removing as much toilet water from the bowl as possible, pour around half a cup of soap into the bottom. Allow the soap to sit for at least 30 minutes. The longer it sits, the more it can penetrate and lubricate the clog. While the soap is sitting, boil a pot of water. You’ll need enough to fill the bowl when you pour it down the drain.
Be cautious with the temperature; water that is too hot can crack the porcelain. After the waiting period, carefully pour the hot water into the bowl from waist height to increase the force of the water. The combination of hot water and soap should help to break up the toilet paper.
Wait a few minutes after pouring the hot water, then attempt a flush. If the water level begins to drop, the clog is dissolving. If it doesn’t, you may need to repeat the process or try another method.
Safety Tip: Never combine dish soap with chemical drain cleaners, as it can cause dangerous reactions.
2. Baking Soda and Vinegar
- What to do: Remove as much water from the toilet bowl as possible. Turn off the water to the toilet at the supply line. Pour a cup of baking soda and one to two cups of vinegar (#CommissionsEarned) into the toilet. The ratio should be about 1:2 of baking soda to vinegar.
- Why it works: The chemical reaction can help to dissolve your toilet paper.
- Follow-up: After letting it fizz for 30-60 minutes, flush with hot water.
Vinegar and baking soda can be a dynamic duo when it comes to dealing with toilet clogs caused by toilet paper. Here’s the chemistry behind it and how it works:
When baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid) mix, they react to form carbonic acid. This unstable compound quickly decomposes into carbon dioxide gas and water. The fizzing action you see is the release of carbon dioxide gas. This effervescence can create agitation within the clogged material, which may help to break down the toilet paper.
Baking soda also acts as a mild abrasive, which can help scrub away the clog as the gas bubbles rise through the toilet paper. The reaction can also change the pH level in the toilet bowl, potentially aiding in the breakdown of the fibers.
After waiting for the carbonic acid cocktail to work its magic, pour a bucket of hot (but not boiling) water from waist height into the bowl. The force of the water can help to push the dissolved toilet paper through the pipes.
Flush the toilet flush to see if this has helped to clear the clog. For stubborn clogs, you may need to repeat the process several times. The longer you can leave the vinegar mix, the more time the toilet paper has to break apart.
- Never combine boiling water with this method, as it can crack the porcelain or cause injury.
- Do not use this method immediately after using chemical drain cleaners to avoid hazardous reactions.
- Give the natural reaction time to work through the clog; it’s slower than chemical alternatives but much safer for your pipes and the environment.
This method is not a guaranteed solution for all toilet clogs, especially severe ones. It is a safe and natural first step to try before moving on to more aggressive measures.
If the clog remains after trying this method, it may be time to use a plunger, a toilet auger, or call a professional plumber.
3. Epsom Salt and Hot Water Flush
- What to do: Pour one cup of Epsom salt into the toilet bowl. Heat a large pot of water and carefully pour it down the toilet.
- Why it works: The salts and heat help to dissolve the toilet paper.
- Precaution: Make sure there’s room in the bowl for extra water. Don’t pour boiling water into the toilet. It may crack your porcelain bowl.
Epsom salts (#CommissionsEarned), known chemically as magnesium sulfate, are often used in bathwater to relax and soothe muscle aches. They’re not commonly recognized as a drain cleaner, but are a common household product that could potentially help in a couple of ways:
- Granular Texture: The granules can provide a mild abrasive action, which, when flushed with water, might help to dislodge toilet paper stuck in the pipes.
- Solubility: Epsom salts are highly soluble in water, which means they can dissolve easily without leaving residue that could add to the clog. The extra water flow can help release the clog.
Epsom salts are a relatively harmless substance to try before moving on to more aggressive clog-removing tactics.
If you don’t have Epsom salts at home, you can try other types of salt. Our post on how to unclog a toilet with salt covers this further.
4. Use a Closet Auger
- What to do: Use a water closet auger to break up the clog. Ensure you have a closet auger, which is specifically designed for toilets, rather than a standard drain snake.
- Why it works: The auger can reach deeper clogs in the sewer line.
- Note: This tool requires some manual effort and care to avoid damaging the toilet.
Place the auger into the toilet bowl with the curved tip aiming up into the drain. The protective rubber sleeve should be in place to prevent scratching the porcelain.
Slowly extend the cable by turning the handle in a clockwise direction. As you feed the cable, apply steady pressure to help it bend around the curves of the toilet trap. When you feel resistance, you’ve likely reached the clog.
Continue to turn the handle, which will either break up the clog or hook onto the toilet paper so you can pull it out.
Once you’ve worked through the clog, carefully retract the cable by turning the handle counterclockwise. Be prepared for the possibility of pulling the clogged material out.
After retracting the auger, flush your toilet to see if the clog has cleared. If the water drains smoothly, the clog has been successfully removed.
If the toilet is still not flushing correctly, repeat the process. Sometimes, it takes a few attempts to clear the blockage fully.
After use, clean and disinfect the equipment to prevent any bacterial growth. Store it properly for future use.
5. Enzymatic Cleaners
- What to do: Apply an enzymatic drain cleaner as per the instructions on the label.
- Why it works: The enzymes can break down organic matter, including toilet paper.
- Benefit: These cleaners are less harsh on pipes than chemical drain cleaners.
Additional Tips for Using Enzymatic Cleaners
- Frequency: Use enzymatic cleaners regularly as a preventive measure to keep pipes clear.
- Avoid Chemicals: Do not mix enzymatic cleaners with bleach or other chemical cleaners, as this can render them ineffective.
- Patience is Key: Enzymatic cleaners work more slowly than chemical ones, so give them adequate time to work. For a badly clogged toilet, you may need to let it work overnight.
- Check Compatibility: If you have a septic system, ensure the cleaner is compatible with it.
- Safety First: Even though enzymatic cleaners are safer, it’s still a good idea to use gloves and follow safety instructions.
- Warm Water: Some products may recommend following up with warm (not hot) water to help the enzymes work more efficiently.
- Proper Storage: Store enzymatic cleaners in a cool, dry place, as heat and moisture can degrade the enzymes.
6. Try an Electric Toilet Plunger
- What to do: Use an electric plunger to generate consistent suction and dislodge the clog.
- Why it’s effective: The electric plunger’s motorized action provides a stronger force than manual plunging, and you don’t wear yourself out in the process.
- Technique: Insert the plunger before inflating the balloon to get the best seal and maximize the effectiveness. You might need a few goes to remove stubborn blockages.
Or Try a Manual Toilet Plunger
A flange plunger, also known as a toilet plunger (#CommissionsEarned) is a specially designed plunger that has an extended rubber flap (the flange) below the dome-shaped rubber cup that is common to all plungers. This design is tailored to fit toilets better, providing a more effective seal and greater suction power when compared to a standard cup plunger.
Features of a Flange Plunger:
- Extended Flange: The flange fits snugly into the toilet’s drain hole. When you push the plunger down, the flange inverts to create a strong seal, which is necessary to build up the pressure required to dislodge a clog.
- Versatility: While it’s designed for toilets, the flange can be tucked up into the cup, allowing the plunger to be used on flat surfaces such as sinks and showers.
- T-handle: Many flange plungers come with a T-handle, which provides a comfortable grip to exert sufficient force during plunging.
7. Use a Chemical Additive
Many commercial products break toilet paper clogs with ease. RID-X (#CommissionsEarned) is one of the most efficient items because it dissolves tissue 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 long 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 the removal of the sturdiest pieces of debris.
When to Call a Plumber
If the above methods fail, or you have recurring clogged sewer lines, it might be time to call in a plumber. But first, read our post on how to unclog a toilet when nothing works. There’s an extra couple of household items on that list that we hope will help.
Failing that, a plumber may be the only option. Professional plumbers have the tools and expertise to resolve the problem without causing damage. Who knows? Toilet paper may not be the only problem in your sewer line.
Avoiding Future Clogs from Toilet Paper
With modern toilets designed to use much less water, and bathroom products getting thicker and stronger, toilet paper clogging your toilet is one of the most common plumbing issues.
- Use thinner paper: Opt for single-ply or twin-ply. Bamboo varieties may also dissolve faster than standard toilet paper.
- Avoid scented products: Additives like perfume can affect the time it takes toilet paper to dissolve.
- Don’t flush tissues or paper towels: Surprisingly, tissues and paper towels do not break down as easily as toilet paper does.
- Flush responsibly: Don’t flush more paper than necessary, and educate the household about what can and can’t be flushed.
Remember, while these tips are helpful, prevention is always better than cure. Regular maintenance and mindful flushing habits can keep your main sewer lines clear and functional.
Why Does Toilet Paper Form Clogs in the Sewer?
Here are the most common reasons why toilet paper clogs form:
- Excessive Use: If you flush too much toilet paper in a single flush, it can overwhelm the toilet drain.
- Non-Flushable Items: Flushing items that aren’t meant to be flushed, like baby wipes or paper towels, can trap toilet paper and create a blockage.
- Low-Flow Toilets: Low-flow toilets may not provide enough water pressure to move toilet paper effectively through.
- Pipe Size and Condition: Narrow or corroded pipes restrict flow, making it easier for toilet paper to get stuck and cause a blockage.
- Tree Root Intrusion: Roots can invade main lines, catching toilet paper and contributing to clogs.
- Sags in Sewer Line: Sections that sag, known as “bellies,” can collect toilet paper and waste, leading to blockages.
- Improperly Installed Pipes: Poor installation can lead to rough edges or misaligned pipes that catch toilet paper.
- Septic System Issues: Overwhelmed or poorly maintained septic systems can struggle to break down toilet paper efficiently.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Drano dissolve toilet paper?
Drano is not recommended to dissolve toilet paper clogs. It is designed for sink and shower drains and may not effectively dissolve toilet paper.
Does Bleach dissolve toilet paper?
Bleach may break down toilet paper in a clog, but it’s not the most effective or safest method. Bleach should be flushed cautiously, as it can be hazardous and potentially damaging to plumbing.
Will a toilet paper clog eventually dissolve?
A toilet paper clog may eventually dissolve on its own, especially if it’s small and exposed to a steady flow of water. This can take time and may require continued flushing of your toilet to help it along.
What chemical dissolves toilet paper?
Enzymatic drain cleaners are the best chemical option for liquefying toilet paper as they contain bacteria that break down organic matter without damaging plumbing.
How long does it take for toilet paper to dissolve?
Standard toilet paper typically begins to dissolve within minutes in water, but it can take several hours to break down in the water, depending on the thickness and amount of toilet paper flushed.
What is the best dissolving toilet paper?
Look for toilet paper that is safe to use in septic tanks. This toilet paper is designed to break down quickly and is less likely to clog the drain.
The Bottom Line
So, how do you dissolve toilet paper in a sewer line? You can wait for it to decompose unassisted, 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.
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