Toilet Leaves Paper After Flush – What Should I Do?

Tackling a toilet that doesn’t fully flush paper is a widespread annoyance that can disrupt your bathroom’s cleanliness and daily comfort. This article aims to address this by providing practical solutions. 

Whether it’s a new issue for you or an ongoing battle, understanding why and applying effective fixes is critical. We’ll help you ensure your toilet works efficiently and avoids clogs.

Understanding the Problem

Overview of why toilets may leave paper behind

Toilets are designed to dispose of waste and toilet paper efficiently. However, when they leave paper behind, it signals that something isn’t working as it should. The culprits can be varied, ranging from low water levels in the toilet tank, which results in insufficient flushing power, to clogged pipes that impede the flow of waste and paper. 

Sometimes, the issue lies in the toilet design, which may need to provide more force to clear the bowl. Other factors include using too much toilet paper or flushing non-dissolvable items that contribute to blockages.

Impact of the issue

The impact of a toilet that only thoroughly flushes can extend beyond mere inconvenience. From a hygiene perspective, it creates an environment where bacteria can thrive, potentially leading to health issues. Plumbing health is also at risk; frequent clogs can strain your system, leading to significant damage over time. 

The potential costs of resolving such damage can be considerable, not to mention the inconvenience of repairing or replacing parts of your plumbing system. Addressing this issue promptly can help maintain a clean, hygienic bathroom and save you time, money, and stress in the long run.

Immediate Actions to Take

Double-checking the flush power

If your toilet leaves paper behind, the first step is to assess the flush power. Start by checking for any immediate obstructions in the bowl or the drain. A quick plunger session can solve the problem immediately. 

Additionally, ensure that the water level in the tank is set appropriately; too low of a level can result in a weak flush. If your toilet uses a flapper, ensure it fully opens during flushing. This allows maximum water flow and increases the flushing power temporarily until a more permanent solution can be found.

Reducing toilet paper usage

Another effective immediate action is to moderate the toilet paper used per flush. Encourage household members to use only what is necessary, aiming for fewer squares peruse. This not only helps prevent immediate blockages but also promotes more sustainable habits. Consider folding instead of bunching the paper, as this can help reduce the volume while still being effective.

Long-Term Solutions

Regular maintenance and cleaning

To prevent the issue from recurring, establish a routine for maintaining and cleaning your toilet. Regularly cleaning the bowl with a brush can prevent the buildup of minerals and waste that might hinder flushing efficiency. 

Additionally, use a mild cleaner for the pipes every few months to dissolve any potential blockages before they become a problem. This routine maintenance helps clear the toilet’s trap and pipes, ensuring smooth operation.

Upgrading toilet paper

The type of toilet paper you use can significantly impact how well your toilet functions. Some toilet papers are thicker and take longer to dissolve, contributing to clogs. 

Consider switching to a thinner, more easily dissolvable toilet paper. Many brands offer “septic safe” or “rapidly dissolving” options designed to break down more quickly in water, reducing the likelihood of blockages.

Adjusting the water level in the tank

For a stronger flush, the water level in the toilet tank may need to be adjusted. Most toilets have a mark indicating the optimal water level. If the water is below this mark, adjust the float mechanism. 

This is usually done by either bending the float arm (in older models) or turning a screw on the float assembly (in newer models). Increasing the water level enhances the flushing power, helping to clear the bowl more effectively.

Professional inspection

If the above solutions do not resolve the issue, it may be time to call in a professional. Persistent problems may indicate more significant matters, such as deep clogs, problems with your home’s plumbing system, or even the need for a toilet upgrade. 

A professional plumber can thoroughly inspect, identify the root cause, and provide a more permanent solution. This step is crucial for complex issues beyond simple DIY fixes, ensuring your plumbing system is healthy and functional.

Preventative Measures

Proper disposal of non-flushable items

A critical factor in maintaining a clog-free toilet is understanding what should and should not be flushed. Every day, items such as wipes (even those labelled “flushable”), sanitary products, cotton swabs, and dental floss create blockages. Educate all household members on the importance of disposing of these items in the trash, not the toilet. This simple habit can significantly reduce the risk of clogs and plumbing issues, ensuring your toilet remains functional.

Usage of a toilet auger or plunger

Familiarizing yourself with using a toilet auger or plunger can empower you to address minor clogs without needing professional help. A plunger should be used with a firm, consistent pumping action to create suction and dislodge blockages. 

A toilet auger, which reaches deeper into the toilet’s plumbing, can be effective for more stubborn clogs. Ensure you use these tools correctly to avoid damaging your toilet or worsening the clog.

Regular use of natural cleaners

Incorporating natural cleaners into your routine can maintain the health of your pipes without exposing them to harsh chemicals. Baking soda and vinegar, for example, can be used regularly to help dissolve minor blockages and maintain clear pipes. 

Pouring hot water down the toilet once a week can also help break down any beginning formations of clogs. These natural solutions are gentle on your plumbing system and environmentally friendly.


Addressing a toilet that leaves paper behind is essential for a clean, functional bathroom. Understanding the issue, acting immediately, applying long-term fixes, and using preventative practices will keep your toilet efficient and unclogged. Adapt the advice given to suit your home’s needs. A well-maintained toilet ensures a healthier living space and prevents plumbing problems. Be proactive and seek expert advice to maintain your bathroom’s best condition.