Can You Flush Paper Towels? Plumber Explain

In everyday life, people use the toilet several times a day without thinking too much about it. However, the fast-paced lifestyle has brought a new problem: the lack of toilet paper. When we find ourselves in such a situation and run out of toilet paper, the first question that we’ll wonder is, can you flush paper towels? Many people think that paper towels are almost similar to toilet paper, but they are not. In this article, we will explain why.

So can you flush paper towels? No – paper towels are not recommended to be thrown in the toilet because they can clog toilet pipes. Paper towels don’t dissolve in the water, and using them will lead to clogged pipes. A professional plumber must be called to solve this issue if this happens.

We are often tempted to throw anything into the toilet that we think will be easy to flush and get rid of it forever. But such thinking is wrong because by doing so, in addition to causing clogged pipes, you are polluting the environment. Not to mention the embarrassment in front of the plumber when he finds out what is causing the clog in your toilet. If you want to learn more about this topic, continue to read.

For those who want to learn more, you can also read What Causes Brown Water In Toilet.

What Happens After You Flush Paper Towels?

Flushing paper towels

Paper towels are not of the same material as toilet paper, and they will not dissolve in water. Although they can absorb moisture, they will not melt into more small pieces as toilet paper does. After you flush them down the toilet, you can expect them to disappear into the drain. But very soon after you lose sight of them, they will get bigger because of the water they soaked up.

You probably won’t notice that this happened right away. It can even happen that a small amount of paper towel eventually manages to disappear on its own in the sewers. But if you keep flushing the paper towels, then you will have to face the clogging that comes with the ugly stench, the clutter, and the high plumber fee.

What to Do If You Flush Paper Towels?

If you have accidentally flushed paper towels down the toilet, do not panic. Although this can clog your toilet, there are some steps that you can do o fix this issue. Below are a few methods that can help you remove the clogging caused by flushing the paper towels.

  • Use a Plunger – The first method that you can try to unclog your toilet is to use a plunger. With its help, you pull and push air into the pipe and create pressure by doing so. This will remove most of the clogs.
  • Use an Auger – Unfortunately, a plunger sometimes is not enough. If the clog is too serious, you will need to use a more powerful tool. A plumbing auger is a good solution in this case. Simply grab one end of the auger and push it down the toilet. You should crank the end on the opposite side by using another hand. By doing this, you will make strong pressure that will get rid of any clog.
  • Use drain cleaning kit. – This can be used for all sort of clogs, and among them also a clog caused by paper towels.

Call a Professional Plumber

Professional Plumber to fix a clogged toilet

If you’ve tried all the above methods and didn’t have the luck, the only option is to call a professional plumber. Plumbers usually have the necessary tools and know-how to get rid of severe clogs. Do not be surprised if the plumber has to remove the entire toilet bowl when removing the blockage.

Yes, paper towels can cause such clogging that even an expert will have no choice. You can expect a high bill from a plumber for this job, especially if your home is connected to a septic system. This is the main reason why you should never flush paper towels.

Related Article: How Much Does It Cost To Rough-In Plumbing For A Bathroom?

Ways to Unclog a Toilet That Has Paper Towel

No one likes to clean the toilet, but it is an even worse job when you have a clogged toilet. Therefore, we will list a few things that you can do to fix this issue quickly:

Solution 1: Use a Toilet Auger

Toilet Auger – the best tool to use

The first thing that we’ll recommend is to clean the pipes by using a toilet auger. It is a very useful tool when you have clogged drains. How to use it? By grabbing the handle, just push the tool and keep turning clockwise.

This will create pressure in the pipe that will clear the way in front of it. Although the toilet auger can come across very serious blockages, it is such a powerful tool that it will continue with its work without any problems until it removes all the blockages in the toilet.

Solution 2: Use a Plunger

Toilet Plunger

If you don’t have the auger, you can use a plunger instead, which is usually a common household tool that is used for clogging the toilet. First, it is necessary to fill the toilet bowl with warm water. Then, you should immerse the plunger in the bottom and press it firmly.

This will create a vacuum that can easily dissolve some blockages. However, keep in mind that the use of this tool requires high strength because until the complete solution of the problem the plunger must be pushed repeatedly towards the drain in the toilet.

Solution 3: Use Vinegar and Baking Soda

A mix of baking soda and vinegar

If mentioned methods above seem complicated, you can try to remove the blockages by combining vinegar and baking soda. Simply mix one cup of baking soda with two cups of vinegar, pour the resulting mixture into a toilet bowl and wait 20 minutes.

This should be enough time for this mixture to break down paper towels in the pipes and dissolve it by its strong action. After 20 minutes, you can flush the toilet to check if you have managed to solve the problem.

How To Dispose of Paper Towels?

Now you already know that flushing paper towels is a very bad idea. So, what options do we have left to get rid of paper towels?

Clearly, you can do the obvious, just throw them in the trash. But as it is a material that can be reused, it will usually occur to us to put it in a paper wastebasket. However, paper towels can also be used for compost because it is a material that is saturated with carbon and can be used in the garden. But, unfortunately, many do not have this option for recycling in their own home.

If you want to recycle paper towels as paper waste, consider twice whether it is a good idea. Especially if you have used them to clean a chemical spill. However, some paper towels have a special coating, and for that reason, they are unrecyclable.

Sometimes, it can happen that you must use paper towels in case of a shortage of toilet paper. That is why it is very helpful always to have a small bin next to the toilet that will serve well for used pieces. So it won’t even occur to you to flush paper towels.

Related Article: Where to Put The Toilet Paper Holder in a Small Bathroom?

How To Make The Best of Your Paper Towels?

Best way to use your paper towels

It’s never good to throw something in the trash that can be reused again. Here are a few tips that you can do to make the best of your paper towels.

  • Reuse Paper Towels

Some manufacturers are making paper towels that are so durable that they can be reused. For many, this can feel disgusting, so we offer you a few tips on how to reuse paper towels. First, if you use paper towels to clean chemicals, you should not reuse them. But when you just wipe up something minor, like water, you let a paper towel dry.

Once the paper towel is dry, you can reuse it. There are very durable paper towels on the market that allow users to use them up to three times before throwing them away. By doing this, you are acting environment-friendly, and at the same time, you can save money.

  • Use Smaller Pieces

Paper towels are usually cut in quite large square sheets. Some brands offer half sheets, which is a far better option. We are talking about sheets that are the half size of the regular ones. That means you can use one paper towel packaging for a longer time. Just think, you rarely need a large sheet anyway.

Things you need to clean are usually small enough to use only half sheets. If you have trouble finding special packaging for paper towels with smaller sheets, you can rip a large sheet into more pieces. For example, when you need to wipe a small water spill, you do not have to use an entire large sheet. Just rip off how much you need and save the rest for another usage.

Here is also one interesting article that you can read about toilet: How to Remove Yellow Stain In Toilet Bowl.

What Other Things You Cannot Flush?

When you desperately miss toilet paper, you will probably wonder what you can use instead. Below we bring you an overview of things you should definitely never flush down the toilet.

  • Baby Wipes – They are one more item that you should never flush. Even the wipes that are marked as flushable can, in the end, clog your toilet and create chaos. Remember, no baby wipes brand can disintegrate in water as toilet paper does. You should always throw them only in a bin.
  • Pads and Cotton Balls – Cotton balls, tips, and pads also never disintegrate in contact with the water. That is why you should not ever flush them but rather throw them away in the trash. Clumping together inside the pipes can cause great damage to the entire house’s plumbing system.
  • Menstrual Products – On the top of the list of the most common causes of clogs are menstrual products. Many women are too embarrassed to throw them away outside of a toilet. They flush them, which later create severe clogs. Remember, they do not disintegrate. Just opposite, in contact with liquid, they expand.
  • Tissues – Instead of toilet paper, most people use tissues that, in most cases, should never be flushed. They do not break down in the water like toilet paper, which increases the chance of clogging. When you must use tissues instead of real toilet paper, make sure to dispose of them in the trash.
  • Nappies – Nappies and menstrual products are more or less the same things when it comes to flushing.  They are too big to be fully flushed, and they will expand in water. All this makes them very likely to get stuck in a pipe. You should not ever flush them.

FAQ: People Also Ask

What happens if you flush a paper towel?

When you flush a regular paper towel it goes down to the sewer or in the worst-case scenario clogs up your toilet. When you are flushing paper towels on regular basis it causes toilet clogs in form of a snowball. Layers are sticking together creating a thick blockage.

Will paper towels eventually dissolve?

Yes, they will dissolve, but the process is very slow. You have to know that the fibers of paper towels are water-resistant and non-biodegradable. When you want to dispose of them properly, just put them in the bin.

What will dissolve paper towels in the toilet?

By using bleach you can dissolve paper towels in the toilet. You are probably using bleach to deodorize and sanitize the toilet, so you probably have it in your household. To unclog the toilet with paper towels, pour in the toilet 3/4 cup of bleach. Then flush the system with the hot water.

Final Thoughts

Technically speaking, you can flush paper towels, but you are risking damage to the environment and pipes when you do that. Also, the high bills if you call a professional plumber to fix this issue. No one wants any of that. The only thing that you should flush down the toilet is bodily fluids and toilet paper. If you throw anything else, you risk damaging your pipes and wallet. If you cannot tell whether you can flush something or not, it is far better to throw it in a bin. Just to be on the safe side!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments