How To Flush A Toilet Without Water

In hot countries, especially those that see below average rainfall, the preservation of water is quickly becoming a matter of urgent concern. 

How To Flush A Toilet Without Water

Flushing a toilet using the mains water supply is one of the most water-consuming actions you can do. 

According to the EPA, it takes roughly 1.6 gallons of water to flush a toilet. 

This is a huge amount of water. Particularly when you consider the fact that most households will need to flush their toilet multiple times a day. 

In the modern world, we take flushing our toilet for granted in a number of ways. We don’t really notice how convenient it is until an emergency occurs.

It is also hard to see past this convenience when we’ve talking about water consumption. 

Therefore, it’s important to be aware that there is another method of flushing a toilet, without the need of a mains water supply. 

Pouring water directly into the toilet bowl imitates the action of a toilet’s flushing mechanism.

This method takes a small amount of planning and preparation, so along with outlining it, we’ll talk about some tips and tricks to make it easier to plan and prepare. 

How To Flush A Toilet Without Water

As we’ve mentioned, you’ll need to prepare ahead of time if you run into a situation where you can’t flush your toilet using mains water/indoor plumbing. 

Municipal water supplies usually alert consumers when they need to shut off mains water supply for repairs, but this isn’t always the case, especially in an emergency. 

If you’re in a situation where you know your supply will be cut off on a certain date, we’d advise filling a few buckets with water ahead of time. We’ll explain why a little further down this article. 

It’s also worth having a bucket or two of water regardless, in case of an emergency. 

It doesn’t really matter where you get the water from, it can be bottled water or maybe borrowed from a neighbor. We’ll discuss other ways to obtain water a little later. 

Pouring Water Into The Toilet Bowl

As mentioned, pouring water into the toilet bowl imitates the toilet’s flushing process. 

You’ll need about a gallon of water to successfully flush the toilet in this way. 

Once you have the water, and need to flush the toilet, start off by pouring the water from the bucket into the toilet slowly. 

From this point, you should quickly dump the remaining water into the toilet. 

Starting off slowly then speeding up mimics the action of a mains fed flush. 

It generates enough pressure from the force of pouring the water quickly to push the contents of the toilet bowl down the sewage pipes. 

Tips And Tricks For Obtaining Water To Flush Your Toilet

As we mentioned in the introduction, hot countries tend generally to be more aware of preserving water. 

A great way to obtain water for flushing the toilet is to collect water from your washing machine. 

The caveat to this is that it only works if you have mains water supply to your house/apartment. 

If you’re interested in simply preserving water, or lowering your consumption, this is an excellent method. 

You’ll need a number of buckets/containers to catch the water and a length of flexible piping (garden hose works best). 

To catch the water from your washing machine, you’ll need to divert the outflow water pipe to the buckets or containers. 

When the washing machine is fully plumped in, the outflow water pipe leads to the sewer. Many people would consider this a waste of water. 

Simply disconnecting the the outflow pipe and attaching a length of flexible pipe will enable you to catch this water to then use it to flush your toilet. 

Whilst this is common practice for people living in hot countries looking to preserve water, are there any other methods if the above doesn’t apply? 

The short answer is yes. 

If it’s just the toilet that doesn’t have a water supply, chances are you’ll have running water in a different part of your house. 

Simply filling a bucket from that source solves the problem. 

However, if you have lost your water supply completely, you’ll obviously need to find water from a different source such as: 

  • Asking a neighbor for water
  • Buying large bottles of water at a store
  • Pulling water from a nearby lake/pond/other body of water 

Can You Flush The Toilet When The Water Is Off? 

For clarification, this question refers to flushing the toilet using its flush when the water is off. 

When you flush a toilet, water from the cistern/tank (usually located above the bowl) comes through the toilet’s channels and into the bowl. 

How To Flush A Toilet Without Water (1)

If you have a mains water supply, this refills the tank/cistern. 

It’s worth noting that, usually, a toilet doesn’t use an entire tank of water for one flush. 

This means that, if no one has used the flush since the water was turned off, then you can flush the toilet when the water is off.

You will likely find that it can only be flushed twice before the tank is empty. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does 1 Flush Cost? 

Based on the Department of Energy data, it’s estimated that it costs 1.3 cents to flush a toilet. This is based on the restroom using 1.6 gallons of water for each flush. 

The average individual flushes the toilet roughly 5 times per day. This means that per person per year the estimated cost of flushing is $24. 

How Much Water Do You Save By Not Flushing The Toilet? 

Going with the idea that toilet flushing uses 1.6 gallons per flush, and the average person flushes the toilet five times per day, you could save 8 gallons a day by not flushing as often. 


While some may argue that the method above is less than ideal for flushing your toilet, it can help keep things sanitary when you don’t have a running water supply. 

Water conservation is becoming increasingly important, so it’s worth considering using this method to preserve water.

Mike Noren