How to Drain a Toilet Bowl & Tank Fast.

There are multiple scenarios you may need to empty the water in your toilet bowl. Say there’s a leak in the bowl that’s causing water to recede, or there’s a blockage that requires you to pull out whatever it is that’s causing the clog.

Draining the toilet shouldn’t be a hard task as there are many ways you can drain the water. Using a series of methods from scooping the water out, to using a cloth to wring out the water, siphoning the water out, and much more. The idea is to remove every remaining water, especially out of the trap situated beyond the bottom of the toilet bowl.

Take a look at the series of methods, with step-by-step instructions, you can use to completely get water out of your toilet tank and bowl. We’ve also included tips that can help make the process quicker and less tedious.

Why Empty a Toilet?

Well, it may not be apparent to you but there are several instances where you may need to empty your toilet bowl. For example;

  • In preparation for a toilet repair – plumbing issues such as removing clogs, checking for cracks in the bowl, among others.
  • For cleaning up purposes – if you have salty water or your tank has debris that flushes down with the water, you may notice some dirt particles at the bottom of the toilet. To wash out the area, you have to drain the bowl and clean it before you can let the water run again.
  • For toilet inspection – toilet issues can be simple or urgent, hence if your plumber comes to check out or inspect how it’s working, they may ask you to drain the toilet bowl.
  • Replacing the toilet altogether. Some units are beyond repair especially if there are cracks and leaks, you may need to get a new toilet unit, hence the first thing would be to drain water to allow for easy removal of the old unit.


Here are the different methods you can use to can drain your toilet bowl;

Collect the Supplies/tools

  • Gloves
  • Toilet plunger
  • Bucket – to carry water removed from the bowl
  • Cup or bowl
  • Flexible hose
  • Washcloth/ sponge
  • Wet-dry shop vacuum

Disconnect Water Supply & Empty Tank

Note that you may have different types of toilets, therefore, some of these methods may seem absurd while others work perfectly. So to begin with the series of methods is a quick guide on what to start with, followed by the different techniques you can use.

Draining toilet tank
Start with emptying the tank
  1. Turn off the water supply to the toilet. If you’re trying to remove water from the bowl it means you don’t want water coming from anywhere else to fill back the bowl you’re initially trying to empty. So start from the main supply to the toilet supply valve which should be at the back of the toilet. Turn the valve clockwise.
  2. Flush water from the tank into the bowl. Exert a little bit more pressure than you would to remove as much water from the tank as possible. Make sure your toilet isn’t clogged as the water will just back up and overflow the toilet, making everything worse.
  3. Use the sponge to draw out all the water from the tank. This is to ensure the water doesn’t trickle from the tank through the rims and into the bowl. Especially for old toilets that may have a weary flapper that lets out water easily.
  4. Now it’s time to simply deal with the water in the bowl. You can get water out of the bowl by plunging, sponging, siphoning, bailing, or vacuuming.


This first method is a great choice as it has two advantages. First, you get to unclog any blockages from your toilet(in case it was clogged), and you also get to reduce the water in the bowl past the water level.

Plunging to drain water in toilet bowl

As you will notice, the bowl too has a water level that acts as a water seal, keeping all the smells and scents behind the P-trap.

What happens is as you plunge, you’re pushing more and more water out of the bowl, past the bend at the trap way, and into the drain pipe, leaving very little water in the bowl. Here’s how to go about it.

  1. Take your plunger, preferably a flange or closet plunger rather than the sink plunger, and place it onto the drain hole. The flange is bell-shaped therefore, it can suction and push better than the sink plunger.
  2. Plunge in an up and down motion to get as much water as you can, out of the bowl. This movement will also surely unclog any blockages from the toilet.
  3. Once you notice the water has reduced in the bowl, move to the next method below.

If there was a clog and you have managed to clear the blockage, you can flush the toilet and repeat this method.

Sponge Out the Water

  1. Take a large absorbent sponge and a bucket of water to start. If you don’t have a sponge, try a washcloth that you can easily wring out in the bucket.
  2. Wear your rubber gloves and place the sponge over the water.
  3. Let it absorb then take it out, wring it into the bucket.
  4. Repeat until you achieve your desired results.

Once done, you could dispose of the sponge.

Siphon Out the Water

Siphoning, by definition, is the process of sucking out water from one vessel to another. In this case, from the bowl into the bucket. The method is quite dirty as you’ll be using a short flexible hose to suck the water from the bowl, and releasing it into a bucket.

Also, the method is effective when there isn’t waste material in the bowl such as paper. If there isn’t, here’s how you can siphon the water out;

  1. Fill the hose completely with water from the bowl.
  2. Plug both openings of the hose with your fingers to ensure no water escapes. When you replace the openings with your fingers air will get into the hose and break the siphon.
  3. While still blocking the hose openings with your fingers, insert one of the ends into the bowl.
  4. Place the other end of the tank into the bucket unto which you’re emptying to. Ensure the bucket is lower than the bowl so it easily drains into it.
  5. Release your fingers from the hose openings. This will initiate the siphoning. It will keep draining into the bowl for as long as the end of the bowl is kept submerged.
  6. This will drain water until it’s over. You sponge afterward.

Bail Out the Water

Bailing out the water simply means to use a cup or bowl to remove the water from the bowl. You will scoop the water slowly by slowly until the water is completely over in the bowl. Anything small enough like the cover of your hairspray to that of your empty canister in the bathroom.

Bailing out water

Just choose something small enough to carry the slightest of water at the bottom of the toilet bowl up to the toilet’s trap. After that, you can also finish draining the bowl by using a sponge.

Vacuum Out the Water

Finally, you can vacuum the water out using a wet-dry vacuum. This is a canister vacuum that can be used to pick dry dust, liquids, and debris from anywhere in the home. All you have to do is place the vacuum on wet mode and start vacuuming. Keep at it until all the water is out.

As you use the vacuum, ensure the toilet is clean from any waste that could block the vacuum from doing its work. Also, don’t overfill the vacuum bin with water. This is a good method for very little water.

Quick and Easy Tips

Below are some quick and easy tips to help you drain the toilet in no time.

  • You can skip the whole process of draining water from the tank and simply begin from the bowl.
  • If you don’t have a plunger, take a bucket filled with water and pour it into the toilet bowl. It will have the same effect as plunging the toilet.
  • Drying out the water with an absorbent cloth is the easiest and faster method to drain the bowl.
  • Always clear any clogs before you drain the toilet.

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