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How My 90-Year-Old Mother Fixed theToilet, or, What to Do When Your Toilet Stops Up


It was Thanksgiving weekend, and my elderly mom, who lives in her own apartment in the same apartment building with me, had a DISASTER on her hands! She had guests from out of town, and the TOILET stopped up! Water (disgustingly DIRTY water) was pouring out on the bathroom floor from the flooded toilet. "What to do? What to do?" she cried. We all hate it when the toilet plugs up.

We all tried to fix the plugged-up toilet. My brothers and I all had a go at attempted to plunge the toilet with a plunger. No go, no good. I got on the phone, attempting to raise a plumber. No dice. I must have left twenty or twenty-five messages; no live person answered my calls for help. It looked like we were on our own!

Meanwhile, back at the camp, my mother, my aunt, and myself , all helped to clean up the nasty mess on the bathroom floor. We couldn't leave like that. We warned everyone approaching not to use the toilet, and sent everyone who needed the facilities upstairs to my apartment, to use my toilet, instead. What a pesky crisis, when the place was full of guests!

We ignored the stopped-up toilet the best we could. We continued on, attempting to enjoy our festivities and family games. In the middle of one of our favorite games, Trivial Pursuit, my mother all the sudden sat up in her easy chair and said, "I know!" We all looked at her a little funny--it wasn't her turn to answer the question...

She darted into the kitchen, grabbed the bottle of bleach from under the sink, and poured a cup of bleach into the toilet. Voila! We couldn't believe it--about a couple of minutes went by, and Mom had a fully functioning toilet once again. The water that had filled the toilet to the brim and over went down. The toilet filled once again to a normal level.

I will ever remember holding my breath as we flushed, just to see what would happen. The water went down with a swirl; the tank filled once again, and there we had--a clean, fully usable toilet, once again. The polugged-up toilet was FIXED! Just like that. Awesome.

I've used that trick for a stopped up toilet more than once since then. A cup of bleach is so much less expensive and quicker than a plumber!

That's one thing I heartily admire about my mother's generation. These women know how to make do with whatever is available. I learn something new about that, quite frequently, from my mom. I don't mind passing along these tips to you, in hopes they may help you in your "hour of need"! A plugged-up toilet is no joke for anyone.

I found out later that the reason a toilet stops up to begin with is toilet paper. Everything else goes through the pipes, no problem, but toilet paper leads to a clogged pipe, quite frequently. The bleach actually dissolves the toilet paper enough to let it pass through the pipes. The reason to use one cup of bleach, only, is that bleach can be harmful to the pipes; it can corrode them, depending on what kind of pipes you have. So it is wise to use this method of clearing a stopped-up toilet judiciously. It is also wise NEVER to flush sanitary napkins or tampons down the toilet after use. This will also lead to a stopped-up toilet, and the bleach may not be powerful enough to fix it.

The "bleach trick" my mother taught me works on toilets, only. That's because it works to dissolve paper. With slow-draining or stopped-up sinks or tubs, the problem is usually HAIR!

What works the best for that is DRANO. I'm not just saying that because DRANO is sponsoring a contest or something. It's really true. I've tried them all--Drano, Liquid Plumber, the Walmart store brand...Drano has worked the best for me.

If you use one kind of drain cleaner, stick with it. Don't chop and change. The different kinds of over-the-counter drain cleaners have different active elements that WORK AGAINST EACH OTHER! Don't try one brand, and, if that doesn't work, try a different brand. Or, don't try a home remedy, and if that doesn't work, try a commercial product. Stick with whatever you started with and try it again.

What I've done, if Drano doesn't work the first time, I try it again, using a bit more of the product than the directions tell me to. That usually works. If not, once again...a third treatment will either remove the problem or it's time to give in and call the plumber!



I know, duh, you don't need me to tell you that. I had to say it, are very adept at reaching into places you thought were out of reach. I once found two-year old twins I was babysitting standing ON TOP of the washing machine, pulling everything out of the cupboard above the washing machine and dumping it on the floor! How'd they do that? By dragging over a Hot Wheels, standing on top of the Hot Wheels to use it for a ladder to get on top of the washing machine! Kids!

Keep bleach handy, just in case your toilet stops up. It works!

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Paradise7 (author) from Upstate New York on January 25, 2013:

It actually worked. Could have knocked me over with a feather.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 24, 2013:

Interesting idea and works well too, well thought of by a ninety year olde that just goes to show experience counts. Good one!

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on September 23, 2011:

I've plunged away at stopped up toilets for many hours, never knowing until now that a cup of bleach would've saved all that "exercise". Another example that Old Timers know what works best. Thanks!

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on August 31, 2011:

Great hub that was both entertaining and very useful. Never heard about the bleach trick before, and it's good that you clarified exactly how and when to use it! Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting.

Paradise7 (author) from Upstate New York on August 30, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, Sweetie Pie. Others have mention a combo of baking soda and vinegar to unclog a sink. If it works like Mom's bleach, that's great...I think I'll stick with Drano. I just don't think baking soda and/or vinegar dissolves hair, which is usually the prob. It could be great on grease, though.

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on August 29, 2011:

What a good idea to use bleach for the clogged toilet paper. I thought about writing a hub about how I used baking soda to unclog my sink, but I really could not write five hundred words about that. I will leave this topic for the true home repair experts like you.

Paradise7 (author) from Upstate New York on August 29, 2011:

Thanks, skye2day, for the absolutely lovely comment. Was yours the featured hub? I'll check it out. Thank you.

skye2day from Rocky Mountains on August 28, 2011:

fun hub of love. 90 years old? Wow that is fantastic and beautiful. Bleach? I know it cleans but to stop the overflow. Well God Blessed you all and it was a Blessing you did not get hold of the plumber dude. You were spared a large bill. God is so good. I wrote a hub on how my daughter and I fixed kitchen sink. Check it out when you can. Hugs galore. Nice to meet you.

Paradise7 (author) from Upstate New York on August 28, 2011:

I will def. hug Mom, both for you and for me, Hyphenbird! Thanks for the comment.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on August 27, 2011:

I love your mom! As an environmentalist I avoid most all chemicals. However I am a bleach holdout. I LOVE my bleach. Who knew it had so many uses? You mom. Hug her for me. Great Hub by the way.

Paradise7 (author) from Upstate New York on August 27, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, Nell. You knew about the bleach trick, too!! I'm really impressed. Yeah, Mom is good. She's quite a trooper, and I'm proud of her for that. Though her vision and overall health isn't perfect, and you know she has problems with her feet, I never hear her complain about it. She's really terrific, for 90 years of age.

Nell Rose from England on August 27, 2011:

Hi, same thing happened to me a while back! I did put the bleach in but it didn't work, so I went out and got a really strong bleach! lol and that worked, cleaned the toiled at the same time! great idea, and your mom at ninety sounds really fit and healthy! running around like that! lol cheers nell

Paradise7 (author) from Upstate New York on August 26, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, vocalcoach.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on August 26, 2011:

A great story and a great tip! Mom's know everything :)

Rated up and a great big thank you!

Paradise7 (author) from Upstate New York on August 26, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, Kitty. I had no idea either, until my Mom told me!

Kitty Fields from Summerland on August 26, 2011:

Had no idea that a simple cup of bleach would do the trick. Very useful. Thanks, Paradise7.

Paradise7 (author) from Upstate New York on August 26, 2011:

Thank you all for the comments. Jen--it takes a little while to work. Maybe ten minutes. After that, try more bleach. Agrdraw--it's an older building with older plumbing. I think that's why we have some troubles from time to time with the drains.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on August 26, 2011:

Thanks for the tips!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 25, 2011:

So that's what bleach is for! Who knew?

argdraw from London on August 25, 2011:

Good tips paradise, however I find it a little worrying you have to seemingly use so many chemicals so often to unblock your plumbing, maybe some household education on what goes down the drains is in order.

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on August 25, 2011:

Newer thought to try bleach. Thanks!

Rob from Oviedo, FL on August 25, 2011:

Yah mom! That generation was a resourceful lot. Most people today would probably start googling "clogged toilet".


Darline Kilpatrick from Delaware on August 25, 2011:

Thank your mom for me, okay? What a great tip! How long does it take the bleach to do its thing? Does it immediately work or should you wait 30 minutes or so?

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on August 25, 2011:

Your mother's generation are problem solvers! We rely on store bought solutions that probably weren't available 100 years ago and many times the homemade solutions are better! Although, I do have to say, Drano did work wonders when we used it in our How To Video for the contest. Thanks for sharing your story!

Tammy on August 25, 2011:

This is a trick I will most definitely use and pass on to my siblings. The children always seem to be using far more toilet paper than necessary and plugging the toilets. Great hub! Loved the story!

UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on August 25, 2011:

Kudos to your mom....thanks for sharing this great story.

Paradise7 (author) from Upstate New York on August 24, 2011:

Hey, the great thing about it is, it worked!! We can all thank my mom!

The funny part really was the way we looked at Mom when it wasn't her turn, we're all thinking, well, she's 90...getting on..and she came up with the solution to the plumber problem! Go, Mommy!

Ash Hicks from Tucson, Arizona on August 24, 2011:

This is a great tip! Thank you for sharing!!!

Beth100 from Canada on August 24, 2011:

Thanks for the tip -- now I can fix my own clogged pipes!! (kids....they love unrolling the toilet paper and shoving as much down that tiny pipe..... or maybe they think it's funny that I screw up my nose as I clean up the mess....) :D

Sunnie Day on August 24, 2011:

Great Story and while it probibly wasn't funny at the time..there was just a tad humor in it.Right?:).You are right our parents knew the value of a dollar for sure and we waste so much on the smansey (not a word) fancey stuff..Thank you for a great tip..I will remember this one..


marellen on August 24, 2011:

Thanks bunches for letting us know this trick because I had no idea.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on August 24, 2011:

very good very good...

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