Saving time or saving your toilet?
I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys cleaning their toilet. Most of us want to find fast, painless ways to get the job done. So, it’s hardly surprising that drop-in toilet bowl cleaners, toilet rim blocks and toilet fresheners are so popular.
After all, they make the water a beautifully clean shade of blue while saving cleaning time.
Is a drop-in toilet cleaner the answer?
However, just like most things that advertise convenience, these toilet bowl cleaners are often more trouble than they’re worth, particularly if you’re a plumber. We believe the long-term cost of the damage they cause far outweighs the short-term ease of dropping in a cleaning solution.
A drop in toilet bowl cleaner, such as a tablet for your toilet tank, is bad news for both your plumbing and the environment. Instead of cleaning it, these cleaners can be slowly destroying your toilet.
One of the main issues with them is their chemical composition. While that blue water adds a wee sparkle to your toilet, it is actually an indicator of the harmful chemicals, such as bleach, hydrochloric acid, and ammonia, being released.
Not only harmful to the environment, but these chemicals are also a serious no-no for your septic tank.
In addition, if you have a cat like ours who loves nothing better than a quick drink from the toilet bowl, you’ve got to be very careful. Forget to close the lid and the chemicals in the cleaner can make your pets seriously unwell.
Moving on from the health of the planet and your fur babies, the next concern is the health of your toilet’s plumbing and septic system. A bleach-based drop in toilet bowl cleaner is caustic; it wears out materials over time.
These ‘timesaving’ cleaners actually cause toilet parts to wear out faster. They cause toilets to develop leaks or not flush correctly. You’ll be in for expensive repairs.
The parts inside a toilet system are made of metal and rubber. Bleach and chlorine can make these rubber seals, gaskets and washers in and around the lining of your toilet brittle. They can also corrode the metal parts. The bolts themselves can even break down.
The longer a tablet sits in a tank without a toilet being flushed, the quicker the damage happens.
In fact, some toilet companies even install labels on their toilets warning people not to use these in-tank tablets. They can void any warranty if you should return your toilet.
Clogging your flow
They can also block your toilet. Pieces tend to break off, becoming lodged in your pipes or flush valve. They block the water flow making the toilet more difficult or impossible to flush. These chunks of toilet tank cleaning tablets that get sucked into tiny passages can also prevent the bowl from refilling properly.
A welcome breath of fresh air?
Toilet fresheners or toilet rim blocks, such as those swans that hang off the toilet rim, are designed to release a pleasant fragrance and help keep the toilet bowl clean. While they are not as potentially harmful as drop-in toilet bowl cleaners, the fragrances and chemicals in the fresheners can harm the bacteria in the septic system that breaks down and processes waste.
Also, if they are flushed down the toilet, you can be in for major problems. When flushed, toilet fresheners can become lodged in the pipes, causing blockages that can be difficult and expensive to fix.
How to retrieve a toilet freshener
If you do accidentally flush a toilet freshener down the toilet, it’s best to try to retrieve it. You could use gloves or tongs to fish it out if it is lodged in the toilet bowl. If it’s out of sight, using a plunger to fix the problem is generally not recommended. In fact, doing so can potentially make the situation worse.
When you use a plunger, you create pressure that can push the freshener further down the pipe. This makes it more difficult to retrieve. It can also cause the freshener to become stuck in the trap, the curved section of the drainpipe. If the freshener becomes lodged in the trap, it can cause a blockage and prevent the toilet from flushing properly.
In some cases, the toilet may need to be removed in order to remove the freshener. This can be a time-consuming and costly process.
If you do have a blockage thanks to a toilet freshener, it’s important to deal with it promptly.
It’s best to call a professional plumber
It is also vital you tell us that a toilet freshener has been flushed. Recently, one of our plumbers had to attend to a toilet blockage at a rental property three times. Two of the visits turned out to be unnecessary. They could have been avoided if we had simply been told someone had accidentally flushed a freshener.
A drop in toilet bowl cleaner is more drama than it’s worth
To avoid these issues, taking those few extra minutes to clean your toilet by hand doesn’t seem so bad. And if you do have a toilet leak or parts failure, call us before there is more damage. Also, please remember to tell us if anything has been flushed that shouldn’t have been.