Besides the organic human waste, toilet paper is probably the only item that should be flushed down your toilet. However, even this can go wrong sometimes. If you’ve tried to flush a large bulk of toilet paper in a single take, or if there was already another clog, you may have to deal with clogged sewer lines.
Having something clogging up your sewer lines often causes great anxiety as we are never sure if the water and other contents will end up overflowing from the toilet bowl.
In this article, we will discuss why toilet paper forms clogs in the sewer lines and how to get rid of it. We listed a few things you can use to dissolve toilet paper and explain how not to clog the sewer line in the future.
Why Do Toilet Paper Clogs form in the Sewer Lines?
You probably know how wet wipes, diapers, and other hygienic products are not exactly good to flush, but who would expect toilet paper to clog the drain? Here are some of the possible causes leading to toilet paper clogs.
You Threw Too Much at Once
If too much toilet paper is thrown in at once, it will form a clog in the sewer line. As a big chunk of toilet paper tries to pass down the drainpipe, it twists, stretches, and changes into all kinds of shapes. If it finally curls into a ball, forming a clog in the drainpipe instead of decomposing as it’s meant to be.
To avoid this, simply flush smaller bundles of toilet paper. This way, you can count on them to dissolve properly instead of clogging your sewer lines.
A Partial Clog Was Already Underway
In most cases, the toilet paper alone won’t clog your pipes (unless you try to flush too much at once). However, if a partial clog is already in the drain, the toilet paper may start sticking to the existing clog, making it bigger.
Prevent partial clog formation by avoiding flushing anything that isn’t toilet paper or human organic waste. Also, use a pipe cleaner every now and then to eliminate the possibility of new clogs forming.
What Breaks Down Toilet Paper?
You can try some mechanical unclogging methods, such as applying the plunger or the toilet auger to disband toilet paper in the sewer line. These two are usually quite effective, but not every household has them. Also, it’s a bit more elegant to dissolve the clog with chemical substances.
Toilet paper alone is easy to dissolve, even if clogged in the drainpipe. If the clog isn’t too bad, it can be dissolved with some dishwashing soap and warm water.
In case of worse clogs, you can try vinegar combined with baking soda. The acidity and fizziness of this mixture should break down toilet paper in a matter of minutes. Epsom salt or chemical additives are also effective if the dishwashing soap isn’t doing the job.
How to Dissolve Toilet Paper in a Sewer Line?
Now, let’s look at how to apply each of the methods listed above. If you have an auger or a plunger you’d prefer to try, check out our articles on how to unclog a toilet when nothing works , or how to unclog a toilet when a plunger doesn’t work .
With Dish Washing Soap
Dish soap is the first option when it comes to toilet paper clogs, as it’s a lightweight solution everyone can easily apply The dishwashing soap is not that likely to dissolve a toilet paper clog (although it can break some lighter ones), but can help it unstick and slide away from your drainpipe.
In order to properly use the dish soap for unclogging, you need to empty the water from the toilet. You can do that with a small bucket, a sponge, or another dish. Once the bowl is empty of water, pour dishwashing soap on the rim. Let the soap sink in for a few minutes, and then pour hot water.
Once you’re done with that, flush the toilet to take soap deeper into the drain and reach the clog. This should make the clog soapy and slippery and help it slide on its own.
With a Mix of Vinegar and Baking Soda
Good old vinegar and baking soda mix is a well-known DIY solution for cleaning any lines in the kitchen and bathroom. For a mixture strong enough to break a clog in the pipe, mix a ¼ cup of vinegar and the same amount of baking soda in a liter of mildly warm water.
Stir it a bit and pour it down the drain. Let it sink for a bit, and then flush. If it doesn’t work immediately, feel free to add more, as the bubbling from this solution should help the clog dissolve.
However, if the toilet paper is stuck to another type of clog that contains plastic, this mixture won’t be able to dissolve it.
Epsom salt is often used for softening water, but it comes in handy when cleaning toilets because it dissolves quickly.
The good thing about Epsom salt is that it’s multipurpose (you can use it to soak your body as well), and it’s entirely organic.
To dissolve the clog with salt, put one cup in the toilet, and cover with warm (but not boiling hot) water. Let it sink for half an hour, and then repeat. After the second half an hour is passed, just flush.
The only issue here may be overflowing if your toilet bowl is half full already. If that’s the case, wait a bit longer for the salt to pass into the pipes.
Commercial Chemical Additive
If there is plastic, grease, or other kinds of waste in the drain, the methods above may not be enough. In that case, a commercial chemical additive should be able to break the clog.
The process is very simple, as all you need to do is to pour the solution down the drain and flush. You can expect the results within minutes.
Will Toilet Paper Dissolve by Itself?
Typically, a toilet paper clog will eventually dissolve as toilet paper breaks down in the water. It may take time, but you can simply flush it down the drain.
How Long Does Toilet Paper Usually Take to Dissolve?
Because toilet paper is made of biodegradable material, it usually takes less than half an hour to dissolve. This is why it’s usually safe to flush unless you try to flush way too much at once.
Can You Dissolve Toilet Paper with Bleach?
Contrary to what many think, bleach does not dissolve toilet paper or human waste. While it won’t dissolve your toilet paper, it may cause damage to pipes. It is especially dangerous to try bleach to dissolve toilet paper clogged in the sewer line. Bleach and other chemicals may corrupt your septic system microbiome.
How to Dissolve Toilet Paper Clog in Sink?
Dissolving a toilet paper clog in the toilet sewer line or in the sink is very similar. The only difference is that there is less toilet paper stuck down the sink drain, as hopefully, you haven’t been throwing it there in abundance.
If you think there is a toilet paper clog in your sink, you can try applying all the same methods if the clog were in the toilet. These are the dishwashing soap, baking soda and vinegar mixture, Epsom salt with mildly warm water, or commercial chemical additive.
Clogs in sewer lines are always bad news since we never know how the situation will end. But lucky for us, if the content of the clog is only toilet paper, removing it should be fairly easy with a little bit of help from some DIY home chemistry as toilet paper is easily dissolvable. Check out this helpful video for a visual explanation of how to dissolve toilet paper clogs in the sewer line.