Dropping or flushing something down the toilet can be extremely frustrating. The truth is that it’s a common accident that most people experience at least once – and too many times to count if you have kids or pets!
So what happens if you accidentally flush something down the toilet? Unfortunately, most toilet drains only allow water to pass through. So, any items dropped in the toilet drain will likely get stuck. If not visible, it is possible that the object is stuck in the toilet trap.
To recover your dropped item, attempt to remove it from the toilet bowl with your hands, coat hanger, or a drain snake. If you are unsuccessful with those attempts, the last resort would be to remove the toilet from the ground to retrieve it.
Keep reading to discover a step-by-step guide on how to get something out of the toilet and some answers to frequently asked questions!
1. Turn off the water supply to the toilet
Look for the switch behind the toilet and turn it to prevent any overflow of toilet water or accidents!
2. Fish your hands into the toilet trap
Put the toilet seat up and make sure you’re wearing rubber gloves, then reach into the curved part of the toilet to see if the item is stuck in the trap. If you can feel it, try to move it around to loosen it. If you can’t feel it, then it’s flown into the drain pipe.
Related: What are toilet seats made from?
3. Plunger time!
You’re most likely going to need a good toilet plunger to pull something out of the drain, like a large wad of toilet paper, paper towel, or poop. Plumbing 101: Try running your plunger under hot water – this will loosen up the rubber. Boiling water will heat it and provide a better seal on the drain hole.
Try plunging about 15-25 times, maybe even more, to try and expel the item and pull it up the trap. You may need to have a few goes before you attempt the next step.
4. Try dish soap
Pour half a cup of dish soap into the toilet bowl and wait for it to settle on the bottom of the bowl. Let it sit for 30 minutes, allowing the soap to sink into the pipe, where it will act as a lubricant for whatever is stuck. Fill up a big pot with about a gallon of hot but not boiling water. Pour the hot water into the toilet until the water level reaches close to the top of the bowl. Then, flush!
Related: What is an Upflush toilet?
5. Soda and plastic foil
Another slow but often effective way to unclog a toilet is to pour two liters of Coke into the bowl, then cover the bowl with plastic foil. The soda will break down whatever is blocking the pipe, and the plastic foil holds the carbonation in the bowl, adding pressure to help move the blockage.
6. Grab the toilet snake
Empty the toilet tank first. A toilet snake is made of steel and has a crank for the handle. If you don’t have one, you need to buy one – it is made for a blocked toilet. Make sure you buy the right snake – some just dislodge and do not retrieve objects.
If you use a snake that will only dislodge your item, that means it will push it down the drain instead of coming back up. Once you’re ready, lower the snake into the bowl. The snake will hook your object, and once you make contact, you have to pull hard. Work the crank until you see the item appear by the trap. It may be hard to pull it out, but go ahead and try to dislodge it.
7. Grab the object and sanitize
If these tips helped you retrieve the item, then that’s amazing! You’ve accomplished what you set out to do. Make sure you wash and sanitize the object before using it again.
8. Make sure to turn back on the water supply
Turn it on and test it to make sure everything is working fine.
9. IF these tips didn’t work – it’s time to call a plumber
Sometimes, you’ll lose an object, and no matter what DIY method you try, it just won’t seem to work. It’s time to face it: you’re probably going to have to remove the whole toilet and need special tools to do it. If your object hasn’t flushed into the plumbing pipes, the professionals will be able to remove your toilet and retrieve it for you!
And if it’s an old toilet, may as well capitalize on the opportunity and replace it! You won’t have to worry about having a clogged toilet in the near future!
10. Clean your toilet bowl
While you’re at it, you can give your bowl an efficient clean – especially if you have hard water stains, limescale, or rust stain. To get rid of toilet bowl stains, you can either use an automatic toilet bowl cleaner or make your concoction.
Add 1 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of bleach, and 1-2 cups of white vinegar, and let the solution sit for 10 minutes. An additional treatment you can do once a week is to pour a half cup of hydrogen peroxide into your toilets, let it sit for 30 minutes, and then scrub with a toilet brush or pumice stone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it bad to flush hair down toilet?
Yes, flushing hair down the toilet is the most common cause of having clogged drain pipes. Since your hair is thin, the toilet itself won’t get clogged, but it will build up over time further down in the pipes. To unclog hair, you may have to use a specialized drain cleaner specifically made for hair.
Can stuff come back up the toilet?
Waste will go down the drain and into the drainage pipes leading into the sewer. But if you have a sewage backup in your home, then you may see stuff coming back up the toilet, or worse, through the drains in your shower and sinks!
What are signs of sewage backup?
The early signs of a sewage backup are:
-Your drains are all running slowly, even though you’ve tried to clear them.-When you flush the toilet, water comes up in the tub or shower.
-When you run water in the washroom sink, the toilet starts bubbling.
If you don’t take care of it, these issues can lead to more dangerous problems, like mold or structural damage.
How do you know if your main line is clogged?
You’ll know when you start having problems with all the drains in your home, but especially the toilets (all of them at once). When you flush any of your toilets and the other drains overflow, then your main line is clogged.
How do you unclog a sewer line?
The first thing you should do is stop the pressure, which means turning off the water at the main supply. Sewer cleaning professionals have tools for unclogged main sewer lines. The most effective is a cable known as a closet auger. It’s power-assisted, so they can clear the toilet clog with efficient force. While you can rent sewer cleaning tools, it’s recommended that you contact a professional to fix the issue because there is a chance you can damage a pipe, if done incorrectly.
How often should I have my sewer line cleaned?
Aim to have your home’s sewer lines cleaned out every 1½ to 2 years to avoid any sewage backup.