Can You Flush Paper Towels Down the Toilet?

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In many homes, paper towels are an indispensable household item. Several times a day, you use the paper towel. Particularly, while washing your hand to prevent an infectious disease, a paper towel will be used to dry your hands. However, its use is not limited to this. You can also use paper towels to wipe almost all kinds of spills.

Even more, you can find paper towels in bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, etc. The paper towel is quite distinct from the common cloth towels. Unlike cloth towels, paper towels are meant to be used once and disposed of after use. 

Now, when you consider how many times you use them. And, of course, the fact that they are disposable, you realize one thing. You need to pay special attention to how you dispose of them.

One thing on your mind might just be flushing the paper towels. So, can you flush paper towels down the toilet? In this article, we will answer the question. Afterward, we will discuss other important questions that might also cross your mind.

Are Paper Towels Flushable?

When you are out of toilet papers, this circumstance might force you to use alternative products such as paper towels in your bathroom. In this kind of situation, the challenge is whether to flush the paper towel?

Paper towels compose of cellulose fibers, which are also the property composition of most plants such as wood, cotton, etc. Tiny molecules are combined to form giant-like cellulose fibers. 

Paper towels can easily pick up spills because of its composition. As a result of the presence of this composition, paper towels are highly absorbent.

According to research and findings, experts believe that some of the things that should go down in your toilet through flushing are general human waste such as poop, vomit, drool, pee, and toilet paper. All these are flushable and cannot clog your pipe.

You might argue that paper towels should also be capable of being flushed since it is an alternative and even in the same paper product class as toilet paper. Unfortunately, this assertion is not true.

While toilet papers will break down easily once there is contact with water, paper towels hardly break down. Paper towels rarely break down due to its properties and will stay intact when in contact with water. Rather than break down, the paper towel will absorb the water.

Now imagine having several 11×11 soaked paper towels in your pipe. The soaked paper towel will certainly cause harm to your sewer system. It is as a result of this that experts kick against flushing your used paper towel. After use, the best thing you can do is to throw your used paper towel in your trash can.

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To answer your question, we say No! Paper towels are not flushable because they do not dissolve easily in water. Paper towels are one of the leading causes of toilet issues nationwide. 

What Happens If You Flush a Paper Towel?

The use of paper towels as an alternative for the toilet paper might sound like a great substitute. As such, flushing paper towels might look attractive. However, this substitution can harm your toilet in many ways.

The materials used in the production of paper towels make it difficult and quite complicated to breakdown. This is unlike the pattern of the toilet paper’s design, which dissolves quickly inside your toilet.

So, due to its inability to break down easily when in contact with water, paper towels can get stuck in your toilet. The paper towels usually get stuck at the bend around the lower part of your toilet. In turn, this will create a clog that can lead to a wide range of plumbing issues.

Again, when you flush your paper towels, they can also get stuck along the main stack, resulting in it staying inside the actual drain instead of the toilet itself. When this happens, clogging is bound to happen. At first, the clogging that arose from paper towels’ flushing will lead to your toilet flushing sluggishly.

Once this occurs without getting rid of the clogs on time, the total blockage of your toilet pipe is inevitable. This blockage will ultimately lead to the overflow of your toilet if you continue to use it without unclogging. 

So, that is the fact. Even more, paper towels can seriously damage the plumbing of your home if your home makes use of a septic tank. Most times, paper towels can snarl-up in sewage pumps. The purpose of this sewage pump is to break down waste and process them into your septic organ. Your sewage pump will be blocked once these entanglements occur, and flushing will be made impossible and difficult.

The paper towels can also stay up in the septic tanks for a long period alongside other solid waste without dissolving. As stated before, paper towels do not break down easily because of the properties involved in its production.

So, once again, you want to avoid flushing it down.

How long Does It Take For a Paper Towel to Decompose in the Water?

Unlike toilet paper, the manufacturing of paper towels is in a way that does not allow it to break down easily in water. Though the manufacturer used paper in paper towels’ production, paper towels hardly dissolve when it comes to water contact.

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In producing the paper towel, the manufacturer makes use of higher quality wood pulp. This unique manufacturing design makes the paper towels to be absorbent, durable, and strong. 

The paper towel’s toughness and ruggedness make it a useful household item for cleaning spills and drying of hands. However, this toughness and ruggedness is a great disadvantage because the paper towel does not decompose easily in water. 

The properties of the paper towel make it absolve water without breaking it down. It can take a paper towel up to 8 days before it can decompose in water. If the decomposition of material should take that long in your toilet pipe even after flushing, it will eventually wreak havoc on your sewer system. 

The failure of the paper towel to decompose easily will amount to the paper towels entangling together. When such entanglement occurs, your toilet is at risk of blockage. This becomes even worse where you have multiple paper towels there.

Does Bleach Dissolve Paper Towels? 

When you notice that your toilet is becoming a bit difficult to flush, it is important to unclog your toilet to prevent it from flooding.

There are several different household methods you can use to unclog your clogged toilet. Applying bleach, which is a do-it-yourself method of unclogging your clogged toilet, is one of those techniques. So, yes, bleach does dissolve paper towels.

Generally, you can use bleach to sanitize and deodorize your toilet. You can do this process by pouring 3/4 cup of bleach into your toilet; this is then followed by continuous flushing with hot water. However, it can go one further than this to helps dissolve paper towels.

No doubt, there are various arguments that bleach is not an acid used to unclog a clogged toilet. However, this notion is not all true because bleach can soften your paper towels. In turn, it enables an easy breakdown of the entangled paper towels toilet when flushed.

You can use bleach to unclog your toilet when you notice that your toilet bowl has become severely blocked. The do- it- yourself steps are quite easy. So, here is what to do.

  • Get a very effective bleach and pour 2 to 3 cups of bleach into the toilet bowl.
  • Once you have pure bleach into the toilet, you will have for 10 minutes to 15 minutes. The waiting period will afford the bleach time to eat into the entangled paper towels.
  • After the waiting period of 10 minutes to 15 minutes, the paper towels’ breaking down should be easy. Now you can flush your toilet with hot water.

However, when you want to use your bleach, do ensure that you do not use more than the instructed quantity if you use a septic tank. Failure to comply with this recommendation may result in you killing the bacteria in your septic system.

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Note that the purpose of those bacteria present in your septic system is to help in the breakdown of waste. The absence of such bacteria will amount to the malfunctioning of the septic system. We bet you do not want this.

Again, bleach can cause fumes that are hazardous when combined with ammonia, which might be present in your previous cleaner. The havoc will be wrecked inside your pipes by eating your pipe, thereby causing eventual damage. So, you have got to be careful.

Ways To Unclog Toilet If It Gets Clogged

The paper towel and many other items have no real business in your toilet. In the cause of your improvising, the paper towel is best used and dumped in your waste can, or else you might end up clogging your toilet.

When such happens, there are ways through which you can unclog your clogged toilet. We are going to examine a few of those methods.

1. Call A Professional 

If you have plumbing knowledge, you might want to handle the clogs yourself. However, there are some technicalities involved, and it will be best if you ask a technician to handle it.

2. Wire Hanger

The wire hanger method is a do-it-yourself method of unclogging your toilet. All you need to do is to fashion your wire hanger into a plumbing snake. To prevent the wire from scratching the pipe, you can wrap a small piece of rag around the hook. You will then use the hook to free the clogs. While doing this, make sure you are wearing a rubber glove to prevent toilet infection.

3. Toilet Auger

The toilet auger is a long cleaning cable with a plastic elbow sleeve attached to it to avoid ceramic scratching. If paper towels clog your toilet, you can use this to pull out several paper towels.

However, you can only use the toilet auger for nearby clogs.

4. Sewer Jetter

When you discover that a certain part of your plumbing fixture has been clogged, you can break that part and flush the clogs out with a Sewer Jetter.

Conclusion

One or two paper towels cannot clog your toilet. We are not saying that paper towels are flushable. You may have the urge to keep flushing your paper towels in your toilet because you do not see the immediate effect. The sad news is these paper towels are storing up and hanging somewhere in your pipes.

While you are busy flushing them, they are also busy getting entangled together, which will ultimately block the drain of your sewer. As such, we advise not to flush your paper towels in your toilet.

References:

https://dhamerplumbing.com/whats-big-deal-flushing-tissues-paper-towels-toilet/

About Sarah Walker

Sarah is a homemaker and is passionate about fixing little things in and around her house. She loves to do DIY hacks and keeps on writing about those things in her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her twins Cathy and Mickey.