How To Retrieve An Item You Accidentally Flushed Down The Toilet

No one expects to accidentally flush something down the toilet that they really need. Yet, it could happen to any of us at some point — especially if you have kids, who are notorious for flushing things down the toilet for fun and out of curiosity. You could end up with significant problems when you flush certain things down the toilet, whether on purpose or accidentally. Regardless of why the item ended up being flushed, you can follow a few steps to try to retrieve it before it clogs the toilet or causes another major issue. You can try grabbing it by hand, using a tool to pull it loose, vacuuming the water and the item together, or removing the toilet and finding the item in the plumbing.

Of course, you should not place your bare hand inside the toilet, as even after you clean it thoroughly, it could still have some bacteria or other dangerous substances that you don't want on your skin. Make sure that before you attempt to retrieve an item that was accidentally flushed, you put on rubber gloves that have a long sleeve on them, covering your skin at least up to the elbow. You might also want to place towels around the toilet bowl where it meets the floor, as you may splash water out of the bowl while you are working. Finally, it could be worthwhile to wear eye protection as well, just in case water splashes onto your face while working.

Simple options for retrieving an item that you accidentally flushed

Before we describe any steps that would involve doing major plumbing work, let's discuss some of the steps you can take that are a little easier to do. Before beginning to try to retrieve your item, turn off the water supply where it comes out of the wall by twisting the shut-off valve clockwise

One of the easiest options is to put on the rubber gloves and reach into the opening of the toilet bowl. It's possible that you will be able to reach your item and pull it back out in just a minute or two. Just make sure that your rubber gloves are long enough to keep water from the toilet bowl off your skin. Another option is to use the plunger to try to unclog the bowl. If it's a large object, the action of moving the plunger up and down may jar it loose, causing it to float upward until you are able to reach it with your hand.

If that fails, you can use a piece of wire to try to fish the object out of the toilet. Create the shape of a hook at the end of the wire and see if you can snag the item, pulling it out. If you have a wet-dry vacuum, it may work to grab a tiny item, like a ring. Place the vacuum hose deep into the toilet and suck out the water. You could succeed in sucking out the object at the same time.

Remove an object after flushing it by disconnecting the toilet

If none of the suggestions above seem to be working, you may need to call a plumber. If you feel comfortable doing plumbing work yourself, though, you could remove the toilet from the floor, which is probably the step that the plumber will take. Understand that removing the toilet, fishing out the object, and reinstalling it correctly without causing leaks can be a very challenging job. Do not take on this task unless you have some experience.

After shutting off the water supply, flush twice. This should remove most of the water from the upper tank and from the bowl. Use a towel, sponge, or wet-dry vacuum to remove any remaining water from inside the tank and bowl. Then disconnect the fill tube from the water supply valve before disconnecting and removing the tank from the toilet.

Next, you'll need to remove the bolts that are holding the toilet to the floor and directly over the soil pipe. The plumber who installed it probably sealed it to the floor, so you must use a little force to pop the appliance loose, but don't use too much force or hit it with tools that could crack it. Lay the toilet on its side and look inside from the bottom with a flashlight. You may find your item, and you should be able to reach it. If not, try looking in the sewer pipe next. If you still have no luck, and the item is valuable, you can call out a plumber to inspect the pipes with a borescope camera, just in case your lost object is caught further down.