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A sewer line can’t handle most materials. Aside from organic waste, toilet paper should be the only item you flush.
But sometimes toilet paper clogs the sewer system or septic systems. If you’re dealing with a stubborn blockage in your sewer pipes, you might be wondering how to dissolve toilet paper.
In most cases, it’s not necessary to break down toilet paper with chemical additives. You can use normal household tools like an auger or plunger to dislodge stubborn toilet paper.
There are additional home remedies that can be used to dissolve toilet paper clogs.
Causes of a Toilet Paper Clogged Sewer Line
You shouldn’t flush condoms or baby wipes down the pipes because they don’t break down properly. Even “flushable” baby wipes shouldn’t be flushed.
Did you know that the same is true of paper towels? They aren’t interchangeable with toilet paper.
But toilet paper alone can sometimes cause sewer line clogs. The most common reasons are:
1. Excess Toilet Paper
Did you flush too much toilet paper at once? That’s almost always the cause of this type of clog.
Toilet paper can stretch and twist back on itself as it moves through your pipes. If too much is flushed at once, it can form into a ball and get stuck inside the piping.
Sometimes one chunk will get stuck, and then waste will get caught and create a clog.
You might be relieved to hear that toilet paper can dissolve on its own. Sometimes all you need is time for the materials to break down.
But sometimes the clog is too big for that.
Instead of flushing tons of toilet paper at once, try to flush small, broken-up bundles. That makes it easier for the materials to dissolve in your toilet bowl.
2. Existing Partial Clog
Toilet paper alone rarely causes clogs, especially if you don’t flush much at once. But if other waste is partially clogging your toilet, the paper can get caught on it.
This can lead to a full blockage in the pipes.
Usually, in these cases, you’ll notice that the toilet drains very slowly. If the paper dissolves, the toilet might flush more easily after an hour or so.
Dissolving Toilet Paper
Most of the time, you can deal with the issue without needing to call a plumber. There are home remedies that you can use, along with toilet cleaner options like Rid-X available through Amazon.
These are the six top ways to deal with a toilet paper clog.
1. Use Epsom salts.
Epsom salts are often dissolved into bathwater as a way of relaxing the muscles. But they’re also frequently included in toilet cleaners.
The salts are much gentler than bleach, and they break down waste and then dissolve.
The steps for this method are:
- Pour a cup of Epsom salts into your toilet bowl.
- Pour a gallon of hot water down after it. But don’t use boiling water, as this can cause damage.
- Let the salt naturally sink into your drain.
- Come back after 30 minutes.
- Pour another cup of salt and a gallon of hot water.
- Flush the toilet, getting rid of all the dissolved materials.
Just keep in mind that you don’t want to cause your toilet to overflow. So if the salts don’t seem to be working after the first gallon of water, don’t pour a second in.
2. Use chemical cleaners.
If you don’t want to use a home remedy, you might try chemical cleaners. Some cleaners work better than others.
You should make sure that your cleaner of choice is rated for use in your toilet.
A good option is Rid-X. This material can break down grease, organic waste, and toilet paper.
All you have to do is pour it in and flush. It usually breaks everything down within a few minutes.
If the water is still draining slowly, you can pour another round of Rid-X down the drain. It won’t cause damage to your pipes, and it’s good at breaking down debris.
3. Use dish soap.
The solution to your problem might be right near your kitchen or bathroom sink. Sometimes dish soap will do the trick.
Though it can break down some waste, that’s not the goal. Instead, the goal is to make the waste slippery, so it can’t stick to the pipes.
This allows it to slide down the drain.
Follow these steps:
- Empty the toilet tank and bowl, using a sponge to soak up the remnants.
- Pour a heaping helping of dish soap around the toilet rim.
- Let the soap slide down into the pipes.
- Pour a gallon of hot water into the drain.
- Flush the toilet to remove the soap.
Ideally, this will help the clog to slide away.
4. Combine baking soda and vinegar.
Baking soda and vinegar make an excellent combination when you want to clean the bathroom. Take a liter of water, then mix 1/4th cup vinegar and 1/4th cup baking soda into it.
Pour the mixture into the toilet bowl and let it move down the drain. If need be, you can add more of the vinegar and baking soda materials.
The bubbles should break down the clog in the drain, as long as the clog is organic in nature. Just keep in mind that this method won’t break down clogs caused by non-organic matter like sanitary napkins, paper towels, or q-tips.
5. Use a toilet plunger.
If you try using a toilet plunger without success, go through the above methods first. Then try to dislodge the clog one more time.
Hopefully it will be slippery and dissolved well enough to move.
Simply fit your plunger over the drain and then push it steadily up and down. This will create a massive amount of suction inside, which should pull on the clog until it dislodges.
You should hear a gurgling sound when the clog dislodges. Plunging should only take a couple of minutes, and it usually works.
6. Use a toilet auger.
If you haven’t had any luck with any other methods, then you might need to use a closet auger. This tool is also called a toilet snake because of how it winds through the pipes.
The end of the auger has a corkscrew that is designed to stab through clogs and hook on debris. Crank the end into the drain until you feel it snag on the clog.
Keep pushing until it drills through.
You can then twist the auger to break the clog up. Then pull the drain snake out and flush the toilet.
Make sure that you give the auger a thorough cleaning before you put it away. Oftentimes, it will still have some debris attached.
If you don’t clean it well enough, bacteria may form.
Sometimes toilet paper will cause a clog because there’s too much of it in the pipes. It can be frustrating to deal with this issue, especially if basic plunging doesn’t work.
In some cases, you just need to give it time. Toilet paper breaks down in water just like organic waste.
The clog might resolve itself.
In other cases, you can use supplies like Epsom salts and cleaners to break down the waste. You can also use dish soap to make the clog slippery.
If you try all of these methods and still can’t fix your clog, then you may need to call a plumber. The problem might not be related to toilet paper at all.
There may be something else causing the clog, and a plumber can both diagnose and solve the issue.