How To Dissolve Toilet Paper In A Sewer Line (Quickly & Easily!)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

If you have never stopped to think about it, there is a reason behind the specific use of toilet paper. Manufacturers make this toilet paper in a specific manner so that it can break up and dissolve easily in water.

Unfortunately, using too much toilet paper can cause a clog in your drain. When there is a backup in the drain, your toilet can potentially overflow. That leaves you with the question of how to dissolve the toilet paper in your sewer line.

If the toilet paper doesn’t eventually dissolve on its own, there are a number of methods you can implement to try and dissolve it yourself. In most cases, clogs can be addressed using a simple toilet plunger. Though, for tougher, deeper clogs, you may need to try using a toilet auger or chemical drain cleaner.

Continue reading as we explore all of the different ways that you can successfully dissolve the toilet paper in your sewer line.

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Avoid Using Excess Toilet Paper

For the most part, your drain is built to handle a decent amount of toilet paper. Combined with the natural dissolving qualities of the toilet paper, clogs should be a relatively rare thing. Still, they can happen to the best of us.

How to Dissolve Toilet Paper in a Sewer Line

Whenever using the facilities, try to limit toilet paper use. Simply put the more that you use, the greater the risk of clogging. And even the simplest of clogs are a hassle that none of us wants to deal with. Do yourself a favor by avoiding the symptoms of a clog.

Step 1: Clear the Area

When you do have a clog – due to toilet paper or another cause – the first thing you should do is clear out the area. When a clog occurs, there is a buildup of water in the toilet. In the worst cases, the water can flow over the rim of the toilet and onto the floor.

Any rugs, toilet paper holders, or towels should be removed from the area immediately. If you are lucky, you can get through the process without an overflow. But should one happen, at least nothing else will have to be covered by the dirty, murky water.

Step 2: Support the Lid

With the area around the toilet now clear and free of collateral damage, it is time to prop open the lid. For the most part, they should stay up when opened. It is best, however, to ensure that this is the case because a lid that falls on you as you are working can be an annoyance of the highest order.

If necessary, find a way to provide additional support to the lid. Not only will it save you the annoyance, but it will make working through the clog simpler and less frustrating. Better for getting the job done sooner.

Step 3: Plunge

For the most part, clogs can be addressed using a simple toilet plunger. You can grab one from your local supermarket, hardware store, or big box store for just a couple of bucks. The force of the suction created by the rubber cup is typically enough to break up the tissue paper, allowing the water to flow into the drain.

  • Cover the drain. It is imperative that the cup cover the drain. Without proper suction, you will be pumping the plunger to no avail. Make sure that the rubber cup is covered the siphon entirely.
  • Work the plunger. With a steady two-handed grip, work the plunger in even downward and upward movements over the opening of the drain. Those up and down movements are what create the suction necessary to move the clog and break down the toilet paper.

In some instances, you may actually be able to see bits of toilet paper floating out from the drain. This is a good indication that your plunging is breaking up the clog and clearing the drain. When you feel comfortable that you have worked the clog out, shake the plunger out so that it stops dripping and remove it from the bowl.

Step 4: The Moment of Truth

Give the toilet a flush to see if the clog has been cleared out. If you have removed enough of the toilet paper buildup, the toilet should flush as normal. In that event, the job is done.

If you find yourself staring at a frustrating clog evermore, then there is more work to be done. You can keep plunging until the clog resolves or try the next step.

Step 5: Using an Auger

When you find yourself plunging and plunging to no avail, there are other options to be had. Should the paper not dissolve, you can use a toilet auger. You may know them by the name “snake” or “closet auger.”

What is an Auger? The toilet auger is basically a long, thin piece of metal or wire that gets inserted into the siphon (the large hole at the bottom of the toilet). The auger has little hooks or barbs at the very end that help to break up any clogs, even deep in the drain.

  • Insert the auger. Start by inserting the hooked or barbed end of your auger into the drain opening. Keep pushing it down slowly until you finally feel a bit of resistance. This is the heart of your clog.
  • Rotate. When you feel that resistance indicator, it is time to go to work. Begin to rotate the handle of the auger, pushing it inward at the same time. This will help the barbs begin to disintegrate and shred the toilet paper stuck in the drain.
  • Flush. When you feel little to no resistance, pull the auger out of the toilet. Let it drip and give it a wipe to keep it from dripping on the floor. Finally, give the toilet another test flush. The auger should have cleared out the obstruction, leaving your toilet working freely again.

What Other Methods Can I Use to Unclog My Sewer Line?

Sometimes the toilet can become clogged and toilet paper is the least of your worries. From time to time, tree roots can run into the sewer line, clogging them up to a point where a plunger or even an auger won’t do much. So, what else can you try?

  • Chemical drain cleaner. There are cleaning chemicals out there meant to neutralize and remove those tree roots. Follow the directions on the cleaner to get the most effective use. Some cleaners can flush away relatively quickly, meaning that you may have to go through several applications before it will work.
  • Copper sulfate. One cleaner, in particular, copper sulfate, is quite effective at dealing with this sort of clog. But beware: copper sulfate is not safe when you have a septic system. Moreover, some municipalities ban its use entirely. Check your local ordinances first before you try to implement copper sulfate.
  • Dichlobenil. Should copper sulfate not be an option, there are always root killers that have the pesticide dichlobenil in it. They come in a foam that can be inserted right into your drain, working its way through and killing the tree roots.
  • Epsom salt. Epsom salt is a product commonly found around the home that is used to soften bathwater. Though, it is also an effective ingredient used in a number of toilet cleaners, as it dissolves fast and can break down organic waste thoroughly. Simply pour one cup of Epsom salt into your toilet bowl, followed by a bucket of boiling water. Allow at least thirty minutes for the salt to do its thing, then repeat the process before flushing the toilet.
  • Vinegar and baking soda. A mixture of baking soda and vinegar has long been an effective solution for cleaning toilet lines, shower drains, and sinks. To free up the clog in your sewer line with this method, add ¼ cup of each into 1 liter of water. Stir and pour the mixture around the toilet bowl rim. Let it sit for a couple minutes and then flush the toilet. If needed, you can add more vinegar or repeat the process a couple times to get that efficient bubbling action.

How do Plumbers Deal with Clogs?

For the most part, you can clear out clogs on your own through the use of a plunger or auger. Only in the case of a truly difficult clog should you have to consider a professional. They will get the job done in relatively short order, but it is a cost you may not have anticipated.

The first thing that most plumbers will do in the event of a clog is to use their auger. This is the most effective tool against clogs, and you should have one if you do not. Having an auger of your own can save you a bit of coin over calling in a pro.

High-pressure water. Some plumbers may implement a tool that utilizes high-pressure water to blow the clog out. Even better, this method can blow out any other debris that may have been there without your knowledge.

You can rent this tool yourself, but beware. If improperly used, you could potentially do damage to your pipes. Leave the use of high-pressure water to the professionals.

Camera inspection. When an auger or high-pressure water jets don’t do the job, you can always request that they use a camera inspection to determine the source of the issue. They use a mini camera that travels down through the pipes looking for breaks or cracks in your sewer pipe. If the problem is big enough it could require municipal work to clear.

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What are the Signs of a Clogged Sewer Line?

When your toilet backs up, excess toilet paper is an obvious sign. But sometimes your toilet may back up even when there is no immediate evidence as to what the culprit is. When that is the case, recognizing the symptoms can at least get you moving in the right direction.

  • Drains running slowly. If all of your drains are moving on the slower side of things, there is likely some kind of blockage in the sewer system. Should DIY fixes not work, you will need a plumber to intervene.
  • Bubbling and gurgling. When you run the bathroom sink, you may notice a gurgling or bubbling in the toilet. Weird as this may seem, when the sewer is backed up, air gets trapped and bubbles up through the toilet.
  • Water backs up into the shower. Should water back up into the shower or tub when you flush the toilet, it could indicate that water is unable to move down the drain. Since your shower drain is the lowest point, that’s where the flow tends to back up.

Related Questions

Can bleach dissolve toilet paper clogs?

Many households make use of sodium hypochlorite, or bleach, to clean and sanitize their bathrooms and kitchen. However, bleach cannot dissolve toilet paper as it is not an acidic product. In fact, it can stick to the clog and might actually make it bigger.

Will toilet paper eventually dissolve on its own?

In other words, can toilet paper break down on its own and will my sewer lines eventually unclog themselves? Since toilet paper is made up of soft cellulose fibers, these fibers will gradually decompose in water. If you have a sewer line clog caused by toilet paper, try waiting 15 to 20 minutes for the toilet paper to dissolve. Then, you can flush the toilet to give it that extra push.If this doesn’t work, you can try waiting an hour or two for the toilet paper to biodegrade and flush again. Though, if the clog still hasn’t cleared, try any of the methods outlined above.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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