Sunrise Specialty » Can You Flush Paper Towels?

Can You Flush Paper Towels?

Most people use the toilet a few times a day, and it may happen to run out of toilet paper at an inconvenient moment. You may think that using paper towels in such a situation sounds like a logical and reliable alternative. However, the crucial question is, can you flush paper towels?

Unfortunately, throwing them in a toilet bowl can result in unpleasant clogging issues. You should know that paper towels are stiffer, thicker, and more difficult to dissolve than standard toilet paper. Therefore, they won’t disintegrate after flushing but will stick to the drain pipes’ walls and cause problems after a while. Let’s take a look.

Can You Flush Paper Towels?

The answer to the question can you flush paper towels is – YES. However, when you ask whether you should do that, the answer is – NO! Although they look similar, paper towels and toilet paper are not made the same way.

Paper towels are thicker, more durable, and water-resistant, so they can quickly clog your sewage line. To be clear, throwing one or two paper towels in the toilet bowl won’t cause severe problems. However, their frequent use and flush will clog your toilet sooner or later.

While toilet paper is designed to dissolve within minutes after flushing, paper towels can take days or weeks to dissolve. They will settle in the pipes, stick to their walls, and eventually prevent drainage of wastewater and solid contents.

There is one more problem! Paper towels absorb water, meaning they won’t only stay in one piece, but their volume increases in contact with moisture.

In the best-case scenario, they will go down the drain without causing a problem, but it is typically short-term. In most cases, this product will stick in the toilet trap or down the drain, increasing the chances of clogging your system.


What to Do When Facing a Problem with a Clogged Toilet?

As I have already mentioned, paper towels are meant to absorb liquid, and manufacturers produce them to be more durable. Therefore, they won’t flush like standard toilet paper. Once they clog your toilet, you can try a few tricks to solve the problem.

1. Bleach

The first step is to pour bleach into the toilet bowl. This chemical won’t dissolve paper towels but will tear them into smaller pieces, making their passing through the pipes more effortless.

2. Baking soda and white vinegar

You should mix a cup of baking soda and two cups of white vinegar, pour it into the toilet bowl, and leave the solution to sit there for about 20 minutes. Once the mix finds its way through the pipes, it will remove the paper towel clog without many difficulties.

3. Plunger


A plunger is a standard tool in any household that helps remove toilet trap blockages in most cases. If you choose this option, you need to fill the toilet with water and use the plunger over the hole, pressing it up and down manually.

Once you position this tool over the output, the plunger will create a vacuum that allows you to control the air pressure around the clog and remove it. It typically takes a few tries if the paper towels are stiffer than usual, but the plunger often efficiently solves the problem.

4. Epsom salt

Many people prefer using Epsom salt to remove blockages and decompose paper towels. This product contains magnesium, trace minerals, and sulfate, making it highly efficient in breaking down clogs. It not only helps with paper towels but also with wipes, kitty litter, and solid waste.

It will be enough to pour a small cup of this product into the toilet bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, it is necessary to press the flush handle and let the water quickly go through the clog.

5. Toilet auger

Toilet auger

A toilet auger is a tool that can pierce through many materials and reach into otherwise unreachable areas. You should use the handle to push it in, then rotate it clockwise. That way, you will create the necessary pressure that allows the toilet auger goes through the clog.

It is possible to experience some difficulties during the process, but the device won’t stop until it reaches the source of the clog. Once it happens, you should quickly turn it counterclockwise to remove the paper towel residue.

6. Dish soap

Using dish soap for this purpose sounds weird at first glance, but you can use this product to solve the problem when paper towels clog your toilet. The first step is to pour dish soap into the toilet bowl and let it dissolve paper for a few hours. That way, you will reduce the chances for the paper to stick to the pipe walls.

However, the primary dish soap purpose is to lubricate the pipes and make their unclogging much quicker. Plus, the layer this product leaves on the walls of the pipes will prevent the towels from sticking to them in the future.

In most cases, one cup of dish soap in hot water will also do the trick, but you should be careful during the process. Your goal is to handle hot water carefully and prevent spilling it on your hands and getting burns. Additionally, it can damage the toilet bowl’s porcelain and causes ugly cracks.

7. Chemical drain cleaner

Chemical drain cleaner

When homemade remedies fail, you can find chemical drain cleaners in a local store and use them to solve the clogging problem. Be careful when using them since most products are toxic and eco-unfriendly.

If you decide to take this step, be sure that the chosen chemical product is specifically created for toilets. Otherwise, it will damage the porcelain. Your final option is to call a plumber to finish the job professionally.


What to Use Instead of Paper Towels?

What to Use Instead of Paper Towels

The best option is to avoid throwing paper towels into the toilet bowl, so having a trash can in the bathroom is an excellent idea. Another option is to use softer products that won’t cause unpleasant problems with clogging. Finally, you have a few other convenient solutions to try. Let’s see.

1. Wet wipes

Wet (baby) wipes are an excellent alternative to paper towels in most cases. Thanks to the chemicals they contain, this product cleans and disposes of the odor more thoroughly.

However, throwing wet wipes in the trash is better since they can sometimes clog the toilet worse than paper towels. Even the so-called flushable wipes can cause clogging issues despite the advertisement.

2. Cloth toilet paper

This option is for people who don’t mind washing dirty cloths after each use. Cloth toilet paper is a practical and very eco-friendly solution, plus you can put it in the washing machine and reuse it whenever needed. Unfortunately, some people find this product disgusting.

3. Shower

The shower is not the fanciest solution for cleaning yourself after using a toilet, but it is far more hygienic than toilet paper since it allows you to have a quick wash. That makes this option convenient and reliable in most situations, particularly when you are in a hurry.

4. Bidet

In the case of natural disasters or pandemics, one of the first problems you may face is the lack of toilet paper in stores. That makes bidets a convenient alternative.

The best thing is that bidets don’t require anything other than water for flushing. The original design is very similar to the toilet bowls, with adjustments that allow you to access the areas you wish to clean appropriately. If you plan to get with bidets, you have several options to choose from, including:

  • Stand-alone bidets – Original bidets are typically made of ceramic. They look similar to a toilet bowl but without a lid.
  • Bidet toilet seats – Some toilet seats come with a built-in cleaning tool, making this option entirely eco-friendly. Although costly, once you install this model, you won’t spend money on toilet paper. That makes it highly profitable in the long run.
  • Bidet attachments – The only difference between this bidet model and the standard toilet seats is that it comes with separate attachments. You should slide them beneath the toilet seat and hook them to the water line to get a nozzle for cleaning on the spot.
  • Bidet sprayers – These devices are similar to shower heads positioned next to the toilet. They will allow you to cleanse yourself without getting up and moving from the toilet seat.
  • Bottle (portable) bidets – This bidet type is like a small water tank you can take with you wherever you go. While using it, the only thing to do is to face the nozzle toward the cleaning area and squeeze the bottle.
  • Electronic bidets – This model comes with an installed dryer. You can use it to dry yourself without using paper towels or toilet paper.



Paper towels used as an alternative for toilet paper can cause many troubles when disposed of improperly. Flushing them long-term will cause drain blockage and consequent problems. If you like using these convenient products, throwing them away in the trash can instead of in the toilet bowl is better.