How to Unclog Paper Towel from Toilet

If your toilet is clogged, it can be a real pain, especially if it’s because of paper towels. Unlike toilet paper, paper towels don’t break down in water easily, so they’re much more likely to cause a blockage.

Don’t worry, this guide will help you understand why paper towels cause blockage and how to get rid of the problem quickly and easily.

Causes of Paper Towel Blockage in a Toilet

The main problem with paper towels is that they don’t break down in water like toilet paper. Toilet paper is designed to dissolve quickly in water, but paper towels are tougher and soak up more liquid, so they get stuck together and clog the pipes. Flushing too many paper towels at once or using them for things like cleaning spills can also cause clogs.

Figuring Out How Serious the Clog Is

Before you try to clear the blockage, it’s important to figure out how bad it is. Here are some things to look for that can help you tell how bad the clog is:

1. Assess Water Drainage:

If the water drains slowly but eventually clears, the clog may be minor and fixable on your own. If the water doesn’t drain at all or drains very slowly despite attempts to clear it, the clog might be more serious and require professional assistance.

2. Observe Flushing Results:

If flushing the toilet makes the water level go up a little but then go back down, you can try fixing it yourself. But if flushing makes the water level rise too high or overflow, showing a serious blockage, it’s better to get help from a professional.

By following these steps and observing the behavior of the toilet, you can make an informed decision on whether to attempt to resolve the clog yourself or seek professional assistance.

Traditional Methods

If you discover a clog in your toilet caused by paper towels, you can try these 2 traditional methods to remove the blockage.

Method 1: Using a Plunger

What you will need:

  • Rubber gloves – To protect your hands from any potential mess.
  • Plunger
  • Bucket – For removing excess water from the toilet bowl.
  • Paper towels – For cleaning up any spills or messes.
Person unclogging toilet bowl with plunger


  1. Cover the area: Before you get started lay down old towels or newspapers around the toilet to catch any spills or splashes. This will prevent damage to surrounding surfaces.
  1. Removing Excess Water: Put on rubber gloves and grab a bucket. Scoop out as much water as possible from the toilet bowl and pour it into the bucket. Be careful not to spill any water.
  1. Clearing the Blockage: It’s time to clear the blockage. Grab your plunger and place it firmly over the drain, making sure it forms a tight seal. Now, push and pull the plunger forcefully for about 15-20 seconds. Then, lift the plunger and see if the water starts to flow. If not, repeat the process until the blockage is gone and the water drains properly.
  1. Checking for Additional Obstructions: Check if anything else is stuck in the drain that might be causing the clog. Use a flashlight to look into the drain and remove anything you find with a long-handled toilet brush or a bent wire hanger. Be gentle to avoid damaging the toilet’s internal components.
  1. Testing: Pour the excess water from the bucket back into the toilet bowl and flush it. If the water drains properly, you’ve successfully unclogged the toilet! If not, you may need to plunge again or seek professional help.

Method 2: Using Dish Soap

What you’ll need:

  • Dish soap
  • Pot
  • Hot water
  • Rubber gloves


  1. Boil water: Put on rubber gloves fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil.
  1. Add dish soap: While the water is boiling, pour a generous amount of dish soap into the toilet bowl. After that pour hot water into the bowl.
  1. Let it sit: Allow the hot water and dish soap to sit in the bowl for 15-20 minutes. This will help break down the paper towel.
  1. Flush the toilet: After about 15-20 minutes, flush the toilet again to see if the blockage has been cleared.
  1. Repeat if necessary: If the clog is still there, you may need to repeat the process or try a different method.
  1. Clean up: After you remove the blockage, clean the area with something that kills germs and wash your hands well.

Chemical Solution Method

If traditional methods fail, you may consider using a chemical solution to dissolve the clog. However, be careful when using a chemical, because it can be bad for your health and for the environment.

What you’ll need:

  • Chemical drain cleaner specifically for toilets
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection (goggles or safety glasses)
  • Bucket
Person poring chemical into toilet bowl


  • Clear excess water: Remove as much water as possible from the toilet bowl using a bucket or plunger. This will allow the chemical solution to come into direct contact with the clog.
  1. Apply the chemical solution: Carefully read and follow the instructions on the product label. Then, pour the recommended amount of the cleaning liquid into the toilet bowl.
  1. Let it sit: Allow the chemical solution to sit for the time specified in the product instructions. This will give it time to dissolve the clog.
  1. Flush the toilet: After waiting flush the toilet to see if the clog has cleared. If not, you may need to repeat the process.
  1. Clean up: Dispose of any leftover chemical solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Safety Precautions

  • Protective gear is essential: Don’t underestimate the potential hazards. Always wear gloves and eye protection when handling any chemical solution.
  • Ventilate the area: To keep the air fresh and clean, simply open windows. This will stop harmful gases from gathering in the room.
  • Keep children and pets away: Make sure to keep kids and pets away from the bathroom when using these cleaning products. These products can be harmful if swallowed or touched, so it’s important to keep them out of reach.

Seeking Professional Assistance

If all else fails and you are unable to clear the blockage, it may be time to seek professional assistance. Plumbers have the knowledge, experience, and specialized tools to tackle even the most stubborn toilet clogs. Contact a reputable plumber in your area and he will figure out what to do to fix your toilet.

plumber unclogging toilet bowl

Preventing Future Paper Towel Clogs in Toilets

To prevent paper towel clogs in the future, it’s important to reinforce proper toilet habits and implement preventive measures. Here are a few additional tips:

  • Educate guests: When you have visitors, please let them know how to use the toilet and where to throw away used paper towels.
  • Regular maintenance: Schedule regular inspections and maintenance checks to identify and address any potential issues before they escalate into major problems.
  • Install trash bins: Put trash bins in handy spots around your house, like the bathroom, so it’s easy to throw away used paper towels.


In conclusion, dealing with a clogged toilet caused by a paper towel blockage can be frustrating, but with the right methods and tools, you can quickly and easily remove the obstruction. By following preventive measures and practicing proper toilet habits, you can minimize the chances of future clogs and maintain a healthy plumbing system in your home.

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for paper towels to dissolve in the toilet?

Paper towels do not dissolve as quickly as toilet paper. They can take a significantly longer time, often several weeks, to break down in water. It’s essential to avoid flushing them to prevent potential toilet clogs.

How do you get a stuck paper towel out of the toilet?

To remove a stuck paper towel, use a plunger. Cover the drain with the plunger, create a tight seal, and push and pull forcefully for 15-20 seconds. Lift the plunger and check for improved water flow. If not, repeat until the blockage clears.

What to do if you accidentally flush a paper towel?

If you accidentally flush a paper towel, act quickly. Avoid flushing again, as this can push the paper towel further down the drain and worsen the clog. Next, try one of the methods above to remove the paper towel. If you cannot clear the clog yourself, call a professional plumber.

How do you dissolve a toilet paper clog?

To dissolve a toilet paper clog, use hot water and dish soap. Boil water, add dish soap to the toilet bowl, and pour the hot water in. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes to break down the paper. Flush the toilet to check. Repeat if necessary, or consider using a chemical solution following safety precautions.


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