If too much toilet paper is flushed down the toilet at once, then it can cause a blockage. In extreme cases, a plumber will need to be called, but there are a few preliminary steps you can do yourself that are very effective and in most cases can clear it.
Below, I will cover how to dissolve and dislodge a toilet paper blockage in a sewer line.
Overall, there are no safe chemicals that will dissolve toilet paper in a sewer line. So, first, try a plunger, as it’s the easiest and can work. If that doesn’t work, dislodge the toilet paper blockage using the dish soap method explained below, and if that doesn’t work, use a toilet auger.
It’s not possible to dissolve toilet paper, so the best thing to do is to dislodge the toilet paper blockage. This is best done by lubricating the pipe using the dish soap method explained below or breaking it up using a toilet snake (toilet auger).
In this article, I will explain both of these so that you can unclog your toilet when it has a blockage caused by toilet paper.
How Do You Get Toilet Paper Out of Pipes
Toilet paper is designed so that it softens when it comes in contact with water and passes through pipes very easily.
However, if too much toilet paper gets into a pipe at once, it will accumulate and won’t flow through a pipe. If you get a blockage from toilet paper, here are the 3 methods you should use to clear it.
In general, use a plunger, and if that doesn’t work, remove as much water from the bowl as possible and pour a quarter of a cup of dish soap into the bowl. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then pour a gallon of hot water into the bowl, then flush. If it still hasn’t cleared, use a toilet auger.
In many cases, a plunger will do the trick. A plunger moves a toilet paper blockage back and forwards, which can loosen it. And allow it to break up enough that it will clear.
However, it doesn’t work in every case. Sometimes, so much toilet paper has accumulated that it’s stuck very firmly and is very solid. But it’s also important to use the right type of plunger for a toilet.
Here’s a video from a plumber where he shows the correct plunger and the correct method to use to clear a blockage in a toilet:
The next step is to use dish soap. Dish soap lubricates the sides of a pipe. If there is a small opening on the side of a toilet paper blockage, the lubrication provided by the dish soap can be enough to cause it to slip and flow down the pipe.
This method works for toilet paper blockages and other types of blockages. It works particularly well.
Using a toilet auger if a plunger or dish soap don’t work
Professional plumbers will use a toilet auger. Also called a plumbers snake. It spins and breaks up clogs. Essentially, it’s a long piece of metal wire that is inserted into a toilet. It has a screw-like end that breaks up a clog.
A toilet auger works in all cases to clear toilet paper clogs. However, it is possible the toilet paper clog has occurred because there was something flushed down the toilet that shouldn’t be. Such as a plastic toys, tampons, hair, or disposable wipes.
Anything other than a solid piece of plastic will be dislodged by a toilet auger. However, something hard and plastic needs to be identified and pulled out. This requires a plumber to put a camera into the plumbing to see what is causing the clog. Therefore, if you’ve tried all the steps above, then it’s best to call a plumber.
Will Toilet Paper Eventually Dissolve
Toilet paper breaks apart and becomes very soft when it comes in contact with water. Paper is also made from natural materials and, therefore, will decompose over time. But here’s a rundown of whether toilet paper will dissolve completely in water.
Overall, toilet paper will eventually dissolve. But, a study published in the Journal of Environmental Management found that toilet paper takes at least 2 years to break down. In water, toilet paper becomes weak, soft and breaks into pieces but doesn’t completely dissolve.
Therefore, if you have a clog in a toilet caused by flushing too much toilet paper at once, it will need to be cleared. Some clogs can clear by themselves after repeated flushes. But not in every case. Some clogs also won’t let any water go past them at all.
Will Vinegar Dissolve Toilet Paper
Vinegar is mildly acidic, and acids will break down some materials. Toilet paper turns soft and weakens when it comes into contact with water. But will toilet paper completely dissolve when it comes in contact with vinegar?
As a general rule, vinegar will not dissolve toilet paper. Vinegar is not strong enough to dissolve toilet paper. Some sources suggest that vinegar and baking soda will clear a toilet paper clog. But, it is not effective and should not be used. Use the methods below to clear a toilet paper clog.
Start by using a plunger, and if that doesn’t clear the clog, then use dish soap. Refer to the video a bit further up in this article that shows the dish soap method. If you try both of these and the toilet paper clog has still not cleared, then use a toilet auger.
There have been experiments shown in videos online where toilet paper in vinegar does not dissolve. Interestingly, very strong acids like sulfuric acid do dissolve toilet paper and melt them. There are also various drain cleaners that contain sulfuric acid as one of the main ingredients.
Sulfuric acid is incredibly strong and gives off harmful gas (source). It will stain bathroom fixtures like toilets black. And therefore, it should not be used.
The methods explained above to clear a toilet paper blockage are fairly quick and easy, and using strong chemicals like sulfuric acid to dissolve toilet paper isn’t required. And in general, using strong acids will do more harm than good.
For example, here’s a video where a person uses a sulfuric-based drain cleaner to clear a blocked bathroom sink. It stained the metal part at the drain opening and gave off nasty fumes:
Amos Christen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Drexel University — Philadelphia, PA. Since 2003, Amos has worked with top interior design professionals in this area, including architects and interior/graphic/lighting designers. As a skilled interior designer, Amos Christen is highly versed in fine arts and crafts and uses that to supplement his main area of expertise. He often publishes articles related to home décor on several websites, including Sprucetoilets.com, Sprucebathroom.com, and Mybesuitedhome.com. He also contributes to leading interior design magazines.