The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-23-2008, 12:42 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Marmite Free Sector
Posts: 17,670
Dropped the Dove Soap down the toilet--how to dissolveP

Last night around 7PM we dropped a bar of Dove Soap down the toilet. It's too far down to reach, but it's still preventing the toilet from flushing the way it should.

The water will go down, but it doesn't "suck and gurgle" the way it's supposed to. Instead, after it's flushed, the bowl nearly fills to the top and then the water level slowly goes back down in a few seconds.

Is there any way to make the soap dissolve more quickly?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 05-23-2008, 12:53 PM
Whack-a-Mole Whack-a-Mole is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Well, you could try and make it so the toilet runs non-stop (tape the handle down or something). Probably take hours though to dissolve (although it really only needs to dissolve enough so it will wash down the pipe).

Best choice really is to get a pipe snake and dig it out.

Or, shut off the water and drain the toilet and undo the pipes in the back if it is stuck there.

Or call a plumber.

Last edited by Whack-a-Mole; 05-23-2008 at 12:54 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 05-23-2008, 01:41 PM
samm samm is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
If a tooth will dissolve when left in a can of cola overnight, why won't a bar of soap also dissolve that way? Pour a few liters of Coke down there! Actually, I would think that just from sitting there soaking in the water it would soften up and be flushable before too long. As long as you have a different bathroom to use in the meantime!
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 05-23-2008, 01:42 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Shakedown Street
Posts: 12,412
A similar thread from a different message board (I wasn't reading a non-Dope MB, honest! I just Googled "what dissolves soap."). It's got a couple good suggestions, a good science answer, and a nice list of things to do with the perpetrator.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 05-23-2008, 04:00 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Falls Church, Va.
Posts: 10,027
One suggestion in that thread was boiling water, but you may want to be wary of this option. In theory, boiling water could crack the bowl.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 05-23-2008, 08:13 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 22,887
Very hot water will do and is easier. And have you tried a toilet plunger?
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 05-23-2008, 08:42 PM
GaryM GaryM is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: St. Louis, MO 50mi. West
Posts: 3,389
You don't use a SNAKE to clear a toilet, you use a Closet Auger.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 05-23-2008, 09:46 PM
Tapioca Dextrin Tapioca Dextrin is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Staring blankly at my GPS
Posts: 11,651
Quote:
Originally Posted by samm
If a tooth will dissolve when left in a can of cola overnight
It doesn't
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 05-24-2008, 02:39 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Marmite Free Sector
Posts: 17,670
FTR it seems to have dissolved, as of this morning, sufficiently to allow the toilet to flush normally.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 05-24-2008, 02:45 PM
Pixilated Pixilated is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Whenever I run across a clogged toilet I've downed a couple cans of coke (or dr pepper) & let it sit for a couple of hours then flush. It's always worked for me.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 05-24-2008, 03:43 PM
KlondikeGeoff KlondikeGeoff is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus
FTR it seems to have dissolved, as of this morning, sufficiently to allow the toilet to flush normally.
And a nice clean toilet it is, too.

Last edited by KlondikeGeoff; 05-24-2008 at 03:44 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 05-24-2008, 04:41 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
My uncle the plumber told me to use white vinegar on the clogged stuff in my toilet (it was grit and dirt that was on the toilet when we moved in).

You empty the bowl, pour in a ton of white vinegar and let it sit for 6-8 hours. Then flush. Anything should be dissolved and the way should be clear.
__________________
signature under construction
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 05-24-2008, 05:00 PM
diggleblop diggleblop is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,870
Think soap is bad? My Mom recently accidently flushed a wash cloth down the toilet ! Thing couldn't be snaked out or anything. Anyways, after about a month of flushing, the toilet started acting right again. No probs since.

I would turn the water off in back of the toilet and then just take the whole toilet off the wax ring it's sitting on and try getting it out that way. But that's me.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 05-24-2008, 05:25 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 28,966
Quote:
Originally Posted by diggleblop
My Mom recently accidently flushed a wash cloth down the toilet !
A washcloth? Child's play, says I! When I was 15 years old, I worked at a YMCA camp, and one of my jobs was cleaning the bathrooms. Those little monsters would flush anything not nailed down. Some of the more creative included pine cones and light bulbs, carefully shoved deep into the siphon. Another bitch to remove was a roll of toilet paper that had swollen up until it was stuck tight; I had to dig that one out by hand.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 05-24-2008, 05:52 PM
Student Driver Student Driver is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Yeah, well...

...try fishing out a still-vibrating motorized dildo out of a toilet.

Yeah, I don't miss working at Goodwill.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 05-24-2008, 05:56 PM
VanillaGorilla VanillaGorilla is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself
A washcloth? Child's play, says I! When I was 15 years old, I worked at a YMCA camp, and one of my jobs was cleaning the bathrooms. Those little monsters would flush anything not nailed down. Some of the more creative included pine cones and light bulbs, carefully shoved deep into the siphon. Another bitch to remove was a roll of toilet paper that had swollen up until it was stuck tight; I had to dig that one out by hand.
Pine cones and light bulbs? Ha! When I was younger I would have been GLAD to pick that stuff out of the toilet. My dad used to flush live bears and used cars down the toilet, and we, the kids, had to try and get it out. He did it every day, and it took us FOUR days to get one thing out. We had no tools to use, and dad had broken our arms, so we had to use our teeth!
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 05-24-2008, 06:21 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Bailey
My uncle the plumber told me to use white vinegar on the clogged stuff in my toilet
I wonder how this would work on soap. It could work because it protonates the soap and causes it to separate out, but I strongly suspect that acids are going to do a lot of nothing. Bases like draino won't do anything either. I think the best bet is to leave the toilet running until it clears out, but I don't know how the water bill would be on that. Hot water will be more effective. Maybe if once every couple of hours you dumped some hot water in. Eventually it will dissolve. I'm sure you've seen soap that's been sitting in a wet soapdish for a while. Soap will dissolve.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 05-24-2008, 07:00 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Berkeley, CA
Posts: 14,089
I would suggest the first thing to try would be to reach in and try to grab what ever is in there with your fingers. Before trying repeated flushes.
But, you seem to have gotten it.
Peace,
mangeorge.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 05-24-2008, 09:40 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: California
Posts: 7,728
Ordinary drain cleaner is mostly sodium hydroxide (lye), and works on grease clogs by reacting with the fatty acids to form SOAP. Soap, being water soluble, really shouldn't be seen as a long-term clog problem in the first place, as the OP has discovered. Had the issue come to my attention sooner, I'd have recommended time and a bit of hot water.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 05-24-2008, 09:58 PM
don't ask don't ask is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 16,118
You just leave any toilet blockage overnight and the toilet fairy comes and clears it. I just wish there was a dirty dishes fairy.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 05-24-2008, 10:17 PM
Civil Guy Civil Guy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2004
What I'm trying just now myself (a shower clog - too much hair running down the drain - but that's another problem) is some stuff I got from the local 'natural foods' grocery. Says it works by bacterial action. Says it will take awhile, like overnight. Any comments?
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 05-25-2008, 12:01 AM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask
You just leave any toilet blockage overnight and the toilet fairy comes and clears it.
Yes, but you have to sleep with the toilet under your pillow. Believe me, it's really awkward when your married.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 05-25-2008, 12:23 AM
The Tao's Revenge The Tao's Revenge is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
This is why they tell you not to drop the soap in prison.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 05-25-2008, 12:58 AM
Santo Rugger Santo Rugger is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Just dump a whole bunch of bacon grease down the toilet. The soap will bind to the grease, and it'll get rid of the soap in no time. Next up: How to remove bacon grease from bathroom pipes?

Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 05-25-2008, 08:01 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
This wouldn't have been an issue if you used Ivory soap. Before somebody asks, Ivory soap floats. I bet they don't list it as one advantage of using their floating soap though.

Air line tubing and an aquarium pump should dissolve the soap. Think of all the pretty bubbles that will be all over the floor.

Last edited by Harmonious Discord; 05-25-2008 at 08:02 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 05-25-2008, 08:14 AM
USAEagle USAEagle is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
Pine cones and light bulbs? Ha! When I was younger I would have been GLAD to pick that stuff out of the toilet. My dad used to flush live bears and used cars down the toilet, and we, the kids, had to try and get it out. He did it every day, and it took us FOUR days to get one thing out. We had no tools to use, and dad had broken our arms, so we had to use our teeth!

____________________

Bears and Cars? I would have been happy to fish bears and cars out of our toilet. WHen I was two, my dad flushed the Queen Mary down the toilet three nights running, broke my arms, and made me fish it out. Then I had to clean t' toilet with me tongue, before getting up for work at Sunset at the crack of dawn to work in the toilet paper recycling plant.

____________________

Ah you had it lucky. At least you had a toilet. When I was a kid we had to go to the toilet in the middle of the Freeway, without a torch!....but when you try to tell kids things these days, they just don't believe you!
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 05-25-2008, 08:17 AM
Myglaren Myglaren is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Loonyland
Posts: 1,566
You Americans seem to have seriously complicated toilets. All this "Wax Ring" business seems really OTT.

Our toilet bowls take around 5~10 minutes to remove and replacement is a simple reversal of removal. In most cases you don't need to turn off the water, although it is advisable, just in case.

Close-coupled toilets take a bit longer as the cistern has to come out too, but even then it is only a 15 minute job. These usually have a service valve in the supply pipe, just below the cistern, so you can shut off the water there and leave the rest of the house unaffected.

Never a particularly pleasant job as removal is invariably due to something horrible stuck in the tubes but better unpleasant and simple than unpleasant and difficult.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 05-25-2008, 08:19 AM
USAEagle USAEagle is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by USAEagle
Pine cones and light bulbs? Ha! When I was younger I would have been GLAD to pick that stuff out of the toilet. My dad used to flush live bears and used cars down the toilet, and we, the kids, had to try and get it out. He did it every day, and it took us FOUR days to get one thing out. We had no tools to use, and dad had broken our arms, so we had to use our teeth!

____________________

Bears and Cars? I would have been happy to fish bears and cars out of our toilet. WHen I was two, my dad flushed the Queen Mary down the toilet three nights running, broke my arms, and made me fish it out. Then I had to clean t' toilet with me tongue, before getting up for work at Sunset at the crack of dawn to work in the toilet paper recycling plant.

____________________

Ah you had it lucky. At least you had a toilet. When I was a kid we had to go to the toilet in the middle of the Freeway, without a torch!....but when you try to tell kids things these days, they just don't believe you!
<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/GqNGhcdtMbc&hl=en"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/GqNGhcdtMbc&hl=en" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 05-25-2008, 08:21 AM
USAEagle USAEagle is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
Think you had it bad?
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 05-26-2008, 08:16 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 32,391
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag
Ordinary drain cleaner is mostly sodium hydroxide (lye), and works on grease clogs by reacting with the fatty acids to form SOAP. Soap, being water soluble, really shouldn't be seen as a long-term clog problem in the first place, as the OP has discovered. Had the issue come to my attention sooner, I'd have recommended time and a bit of hot water.
If you have ever seen a length of pipe clogged by soap that was made when someone used drain cleaner with lye on a grease clog, you would change that tune quickly. It looked like black-green cement and smelled horrible.

Do not use drain cleaners ever. I would recommend heated vinegar to remove soap.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:02 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.