The rate at which sanitary items such as tampons are flushed down the toilet is increasing day by day, and even though tampons are biodegradable, they degrade after a very long time, especially if they are disposed of in the same toilet often.
Tampons are compostable and biodegradable, meaning that you can flush, however when they accumulate, your toilet can end up clogged. They sit in the drain pipe waiting to degrade but because they are made much thicker than tissue paper, they take longer and as result, they will block the flow of waste resulting to a clog.
If you find yourself in such a scenario, the first step would be to stop disposing of the tampons in the toilet. Then fix the clog as soon as possible to avoid worsening the situation. Below are quick fixes you can use to unclog your tampon-clogged toilet plus answers to frequently asked questions. Keep reading to find out more.
How Can Flushing Tampons Clog a Toilet?
The extent to which tampons will clog your toilet will depend on how they have been manufactured. Their main qualities are absorbency and expandability.
As the tampon keeps on absorbing liquid, it will expand without breaking away. This is why even though the tampon is advertised as biodegradable and that you can flush it down the toilet, it will take longer to degrade than other wastes.
Once the tampon is flushed, it will keep absorbing the wastewater in the drain pipe for as long as it can before it begins to degrade. This can even take months. That is months of the tampon stuck in the drain pipe. Now you imagine if you have more than one tampon piling in the pipes; that will surely clog the pipes.
Right from its ability to absorb liquids and expand, to accumulation in the pipes, that’s how flushing tampons in the toilet can cause a clog.
How to Remove Tampons from Toilet Drains/Pipes
There are two ways you can remove the tampon from the toilet therefore unclogging the toilet. You could auger the toilet or remove the toilet altogether and reach for it from the drain pipe. But before we jump into them, there are simple things you could try to do.
Manually retrieve the tampon from the drain.
If you just recently dropped the tampon in the toilet, it could still be in the drain line just after the trapway. So, put on some long rubber gloves and reach your hand to the back of the toilet and dry to remove it.
You could also pour a full bucket of water into the toilet.
What this does is to exert enough pressure to push the stuck tampons down the drains. This is method can work and at the same time, it could worsen the situation as you’re pushing the clog further down the drain where it cannot be reached.
If none of these simple tips work, you can now try these two methods below.
Auger the Toilet
Snaking the toilet is the best solution for removing the tampon since you get to retrieve the tampon from the sewer line and pull it out. This is exactly why plunging is not even an option. The problem with plunging the toilet is that it will push the tampon further down the drain which may cause even more damage, hence, snaking becomes the better option.
- Gather your supplies which include rubber gloves, preferably ones that can cover up to your forearms, a toilet auger(manual or automatic), and a bucket you can see to dispose of the waste.
- Because the toilet is clogged, don’t flush the toilet, nor allow for water into the bowl as the toilet may overflow with wastewater.
- Wear your rubber gloves and take the plumber’s snake ready to insert into the toilet’s drain.
- Insert the snake in the drain opening through the P-trap beneath the bowl. Push the auger deeper into the drain until you feel some resistance. If you’re using the automatic type, keep unwinding the auger until you reach the point of resistance.
- Now rotate the handle clockwise so the hooks at the inserted end can hold onto what is clogging the toilet, in this case, the tampon.
- If you feel like you’ve captured what’s blocking the drain, retrieve the snake from inside the drain.
- If it doesn’t come out, try again, or move to the next method
Remove the Toilet
If you’ve tried to auger the toilet and no luck coming through, you could try this method. It should be your last resort as you may not be able to return the toilet after you have removed it from the place.
- First off, make sure your water resupply to the toilet has been shut off. This is by closing the water lines either from the toilet, the valve should be behind the toilet, or from the main supply valve.
- Next, flush the toilet and empty the tank. You don’t want to have water escaping into the bowl, especially after you have removed the toilet. That is just a recipe for disaster since water will just flood your washroom area.
- Now draining water from the toilet bowl. Use a cup to bail it out and dry completely with an absorbent sponge.
- Take an adjustable wrench and remove the bolts that secure the token to the floor.
- Loft the toilet off from its position and place it away from the workplace. By now, you should see past the trapway. You could also reach your hand into the drain and feel if you can feel any blockage.
- You could wipe off any spills from the bowl if you hadn’t removed all the water.
- Use the snake again to reach inside the drain pipe as it may be further into the drain than you thought.
- If you get to your tampon, retrieve it using the snake or if you were using your hands use a tong to hold it securely.
- Now try and assemble back the toilet by first realigning the toilet.
- Get a new wax ring and attach the toilet bowl, fasten the bolts to the floor and you’re all done.
- Reconnect the water supply.
Removing the toilet isn’t an easy job and you should opt to let a professional do it because if you don’t attach the toilet back together well, you’re looking at multiple issues including leaks from the bottom of the toilet, unbalanced toilet, plus gurgling sounds as air escapes through spaces left during the reattachment.
- First and foremost, DON’T flush the tampon into the toilet.
- If you’re to flush it down the toilet maybe give it a push by pouring more water in the toilet simultaneously. This is just to push the tampon further in the drain to the main sewer which may not clog easily.
- Large trapway toilets can help you avoid clogs as they offer bigger trap ways for bulkier waste. So invest in that.
- Learn to dispose of sanitary items the right way, regardless of those that insist on how it’s biodegradable and compostable.
Can One Tampon Clog a Toilet?
Yes, one tampon can clog a toilet. The damage may not be as severe as many other accumulated, but because the tampon is naturally made to absorb liquids and expand, it can cause a clog in your drain pipe, which you may need to plunger auger to fix.
How Many Tampons Does It Take to Clog a Toilet?
As mentioned above, one tampon can clog the toilet, and the more it accumulates, the more severe the damage can get. However, this may not be the absolute truth. This is theory-based that a tampon can clog the drain line and ultimately the sewer line.
I Accidentally Flushed a Tampon Down the Toilet…What Should I Do?
Nothing, there isn’t much cause for concern unless there’s a blockage in the toilet already. You could plunge or auger the toilet and retrieve the tampon but again unless there’s a blockage.
I Always Flush Tampons, Is It Bad?
It’s not bad as tampons are often known to be biodegradable, hence you can flush them. However, because they’re made from cotton which is high in absorption, avoid filling the sewer system with such sanitary items that may block the line sooner or later.
Further Reading on Unclogging Toilets
- How to Unclog a Toilet with Poop in It-With/Without Plunger
- Will a Toilet Eventually Unclog Itself? What Happens if You Leave it Clogged?
- How to use an Auger to Unclog a Toilet + What to do if it won’t go in
- How to Unclog a Toilet with a Wire Coat Hanger
- How to use a Toilet Snake to Unclog a Toilet
- Unclogging a Toilet with Dish Soap & Hot Water
- How to Unclog Toilet With Baking Soda & Vinegar
- How to Unclog a Toilet with Bleach + Hot Water
- Using Saran Wrap to Unclog a Toilet
- How to Use Salt to Unclog a Toilet
- How to Clean & Unclog Toilet Siphon Jets for a Stronger Flush
- How to Remove Foreign Objects Stuck in Toilet