Flushing paper towels down the toilet is a common mistake that people often make. You probably assume paper towels are like toilet tissues and that they will easily disintegrate in water. However, paper towels are much more absorbent than toilet tissue and will not disintegrate quickly. This can cause your toilet to become clogged, causing a whole lot of other problems. Here are some of the problems you would experience if you flushed paper towel down the toilet.
● Bad smells in the toilet and also the whole house in extreme cases
● Overflowing of the toilet bowl
● Costly repairs
I Flushed Paper Towel Down the Toilet. What Should I Do?
If you flushed a paper towel down the toilet and it has caused your toilet to become clogged, there are a few things you can do to remedy the situation.
Let the Clog Sit for a While
In some cases, the paper towel will eventually disintegrate on its own, and the clog will clear. This could take a few hours, so only attempt this method if you’re patient and have another toilet you can use in the meantime.
DIY Unclogging the Toilet
If you’re comfortable doing a little work, you can try to unclog the toilet yourself. You’ll need gloves to protect your hands from dirty water. A plunger to help dislodge the paper towel from the toilet and get it moving again and a toilet auger to help reach the paper towel if it’s further down in the pipes.
Seek Help From a Professional Plumber
If you’d rather not deal with the mess and stress yourself, get help from a professional. Professionals can quickly assess the situation and unclog your toilet with less hassle. A professional will also advise you on preventing this from happening again.
How to Unclog a Toilet Clogged With Paper Towel
Unclogging a toilet can be messy and time-consuming, but it’s not difficult to do. If you’re lucky, the paper towel will only have partially blocked your toilet and can be removed after a few attempts. We will discuss some of the options you have for unclogging a toilet when it is stuffed with paper towels.
1- Use Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Hot Water
Baking soda and vinegar are natural cleaners that can help break down the paper towel in your toilet. The process is simple: Pour a cup or two of baking soda directly into the bowl, followed by one cup of vinegar and then hot water. Let this mixture sit for about an hour before flushing it down.
2-Use a Plunger
A plunger is a simple tool that you can use to unclog a toilet. The plunger creates suction in the toilet bowl and forces water up through the drain line, dislodging any clogs. To effectively use a plunger, ensure:
● The plunger fills the hole completely to create a tight seal. This is to make sure there are no leaks in the suction cup.
When the plunger is in place, push it far inside the toilet and then pull it out quickly. This will create suction, which may dislodge any clogs that are present. Repeat this process until the clog is broken and moves down the drain line.
Remember to flush the toilet to check if the clog has been cleared.
3- Use a Toilet Auger
If the plunger method doesn’t work, try using a toilet auger. It’s a type of drain snake that works to break up clogs in toilets and drains. The toilet auger has a flexible metal cable that can be inserted into the water, allowing it to reach further down into the pipe than most plungers do.
To unclog a toilet with an auger, you need to:
- First, drain the toilet. Using a cup, remove as much water as possible from the bowl. It will not be a good experience, especially if there is poop and used toilet paper in the bowl. So, it would help if you had your gloves on, all the time.
- Position the cable and start feeding it into the toilet. Make sure you have the cable in a position that allows you to maneuver it around obstacles. This will make it easier for you to push through clogs without having to remove them first. If there is too much resistance, stop and pull out some of the cables before trying again. You may need to do this several times before all the clogs break up and move into your pipes.
4- Hire a Licensed Plumber
Sometimes, paper towel clogs can be stubborn and won’t budge with a plunger or snake. If this is the case, you may need to hire an experienced plumber. A professional can use their tools and experience to clear your pipes without damaging them.
Tips for hiring a good plumber include:
● Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations
● Get a list of plumbers from your local hardware store or home improvement center
● Check out the plumber’s work history and reviews on Angie’s List or Yelp
● Ensure the plumber is licensed
How Long Does It Take for Paper Towels to Disintegrate Into Water?
The time it takes for paper towels to disintegrate into water depends on the type of towel, how moist it is, and whether or not there are other materials in the water.
It also depends on the quantity of the paper towel. Large quantities of paper towels will disintegrate more slowly than small quantities. That said, a single paper towel can take anywhere from two hours to dissolve completely when submerged in water.
If you drop a dry, unused paper towel into a glass of water, it will float on the top until it absorbs enough liquid to weigh down. Once this happens, the paper will slowly start dissolving in the water.
What Can I Do to Make Paper Towels Dissolve Faster in the Toilet?
One of the easiest ways to speed up the process is to put a little bit of bleach in your toilet. Bleach is highly effective at breaking down the fibers in paper towels, which will cause them to dissolve much more quickly.
Another way to speed up the process is to use baking soda, vinegar, and hot water, as discussed earlier. Combining these ingredients will cause the paper towels to dissolve in your toilet, which will help you get rid of them much more quickly.
However, if you want to make the process even faster, simply use a toilet auger. This device will help you break the paper towel into smaller pieces that you can flush down the toilet. The auger will also help you remove any other debris clogging your toilet, making it easier to clean the bowl after you have finished using it.
Other Items Like Paper Towels That You Should Not Flush Down the Toilet
Besides toilet paper, there are several other items you shouldn’t flush down the toilet. These items do not dissolve in water and can clog your toilet, causing costly damage.
The most common ones include the following:
Cotton pads, swabs, and other cotton products: Cotton does not readily dissolve in water like toilet paper. They also expand when they come into contact with water. Both of these factors make them problematic to flush down your pipes.
Baby wipes: Even though it is said they are flushable, do not attempt them. They are made of a combination of water and chemicals that do not dissolve easily in water. This makes the wipes hard to flush down the toilet without causing problems.
Diapers: Diapers are not meant to be flushed down the toilet. The thick, sticky material they are made of will clog your pipes and can cause expensive plumbing problems. These items are made to absorb water and are not easily dissolved in water, either.
Menstrual Products: Menstrual products, such as tampons and pads, should also not be flushed down the toilet. They are made of a combination of materials that will clog your pipes and cause expensive plumbing problems.
Condoms: Condoms are made from latex that does not disintegrate in water quickly. Flushing condoms down your toilet constantly will cause a build-up of latex in your pipes, which will eventually cause a clog.
Food: Food is biodegradable, meaning it will break down eventually. However, it takes a long time before that happens. Meanwhile, the food particles will be stuck in your pipes, causing a clog that will cause you to spend money on plumbing repairs.
Be Mindful of What You Flush Down Your Toilet
So, what should you do if you flushed paper towel down the toilet? The above tips should help you solve your situation. You should, however, be mindful of what goes down your toilet. Poop, urine, and tissue paper are the only things that should go down your toilet. Anything else should go to the trash can, where it will be disposed of properly.