How to Clean Up an Overflowing Toilet

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Things You'll Need

  • Bucket

  • Mop

  • Plunger

  • Closet/toilet auger

  • Bleach

  • Rubber gloves

  • Cloth

Keep a toilet plunger on hand in case of overflow emergencies.

An overflowing toilet is one of the worst sanitary disasters you can face in your home, even more annoying than your pet tracking in mud or your child spilling a plate of spaghetti. In most cases, after the initial cry of disdain, cleaning up after an overflow requires little effort. However, if the sewage water reaches your walls, carpets or furniture, you may have to call in the experts to prevent risk of mold and other contamination. If your toilet has been clogging lately, it may be wise to keep a pair of rubber boots and clean-up tools in a closet close by in case of emergencies.

Step 1

Stop the overflow first. Lift the lid off the toilet tank and press down on the circular, rubber valve on the bottom of the tank to close it. Then lift up the float, which is the plastic vertical structure attached to the rubber spherical object. These two actions stop more water from entering the toilet bowl. While still holding the float, ask someone else to shut off the water valve at the back of the toilet by turning it clockwise. If you are alone, try turning the valve while holding the float or quickly let go of the float to turn off the valve. This shuts off the water supply.

Step 2

Mop the water and waste immediately off the floor once the toilet has stopped overflowing. Ring the mop out into an empty bucket.

Step 3

Unclog your toilet using a plunger. If after several minutes of plunging the water in the toilet does not go down or flush, use a closet auger.

Step 4

Insert the tip of your closet auger so the tip's curve is pointed in the same direction as the drain. Crank the auger as far as it will go in both cranking directions to clear the clog. Gently pull the auger out of the toilet and plunge again. If after several attempts the clog doesn't clear, call a plumber to come fix your toilet.

Step 5

Pour the mopped up waste water down the toilet, if the toilet is now functioning. Rinse out the bucket and mop with hot water.

Step 6

Mix 1 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of warm water in the bucket. Sanitize every area that came into contact with the waste water using a mop or cloth and the bleach solution. Wear rubber gloves if you are cleaning with a cloth.

Step 7

Call a water damage restoration company if the overflow has penetrated your bathroom walls, carpets or wood furnishings.


Michelle Brunet

Michelle Brunet has published articles in newspapers and magazines such as "The Coast," "Our Children," "Arts East," "Halifax Magazine" and "Atlantic Books Today." She earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental studies from Saint Mary's University and a Bachelor of Education from Lakehead University.