How to Flush a Toilet when Water is Shut Off

By Big Ted, 27 Nov 2023

When house hunting, we are pretty sure, water availability is among the first things you consider in a house before settling on which one is the most suitable for you and your family. That simple act happens naturally since as humans water is essential to us in every aspect of life. Water not only gives us life itself but also the luxury of taking a warm shower and going to the toilet, all at the comfort of our homes.

We are so accustomed to living in homes with constantly running water that when the water is shut off, due to natural disasters such as floods or regular plumbing maintenance, most of us tend to panic. We are left wondering how will we take a shower or use the toilet.

Luckily! Toilets are designed to refill after flushing and hold water in the toilet tank even after water is shut off. With that in mind, you will be left with a single flush to clear out waste even after water is shut off. But if you happen to have used the treasured “last-flush” unknowingly, all hope is not lost. We have two tips to assist you with flushing the toilet when water is shut off.

Without wasting any more time, here are the tips;

Tip 1: Fill the toilet tank manually

It is quite impressive that based on how toilets are designed they can function even when water is shut off. All you need to do is fill the toilet tank and flush.

For this method, you will need a bucket of water from your water reservoir. The water you are going to use will all go down the drain and for that reason, it does not need to be clean. So if you lack a reservoir you can fetch some water from a nearby stream or rain barrel. But if you are unable to access both sources of water, here is where the regular greetings or nods of approval to your neighbor every morning come in handy, ask them to lend you some water.

Once you have a bucket of water, lift the lid of the toilet tank and fill the tank up to two inches from the opening of the overflow tube. Finally, proceed to flush like you normally do.

It’s that simple!

Tip 2: Pour water into the bowl

Similar to the first method, you will need a large bucket, or two, of water. To flush the toilet lift the bucket of water over the toilet bowl and pour the water directly into the bowl. As easy as that sounds it is all you need to do since the shape of the bowl,  and pressure of water from the bucket will push everything down the drain and out of your life.

A key thing to note when using this method is that, when pouring water into the bowl you should start slow and then increase the amount you pour gradually. By doing this you will be certain that all the waste goes down the drain and none of it will splash back onto you.

Repeat the same process with the second bucket of water if the bowl is not clean after the first attempt.


Water shortages and shutoffs sometimes happen randomly due to natural disasters or unplanned major plumbing repairs, most people who are unprepared are left panicking.

The thought of using a dirty toilet is just dreadful, fortunately, now that you know how to flush a toilet when water is shut off, water shortage and shut off periods will not be as bad as they used to be.

To add to your newly acquired skill here are some lifesaving tricks to help you with flushing your toilet when water is shut off are;

  • Regularly watch the weather forecast so you can anticipate possible water shut off and in turn store water in your bathtub or tanks as a precaution.
  • Using a Jacuzzi or swimming pool water to flush your toilet when there is water shut off.
  • Schedule plumbing repairs to avoid emergency repair works that would cause water shut off and shortages.
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