* How to Flush a Toilet Without Water

In an emergency situation, you quickly realize a functioning toilet is something you will miss dearly. When your home’s water is turned off due to a plumbing issue of some sort, it can result in a rough situation for someone who uses the toilet without knowing there is no running water.

However, it is really a simple process and with the right amount of water on hand, it will be no sweat getting your toilet to flush everything down like normal. This guide will take you through the steps of doing this task as well as some tips, tricks, and mistakes to avoid.

How to Flush a Toilet Without Water

Can You Flush a Toilet Without Running Water?

The short answer, yes. If your water was turned off recently, you may have some water left in the tank that can be used for one more flush. There is also a way you can flush a toilet without water in the tank that will be outlined below.

When you pull the handle, the inside of the toilet bowl is emptied by the tanks, flushing anything down the drain. This doesn’t require any pressure or running water to work, the only thing it requires is the water itself.

How to Flush a Toilet Without Running Water

Anyways, with that out of the way, let’s jump into the two methods in which you can deal with the issue. While the first one will require your tank and flushing mechanism to be functional, the latter will work even with those parts broken.

Method #1: Filling the Tank Manually

If you have water in your bowl but no water in the back of your toilet (the tank) you will need to refill the water in there in order to flush the toilet. This is a simple process that only requires a fair amount of water and a bucket to pour it into the tank.

Step 1: Remove the Lid From Your Tank

While you likely know this, the toilet tank is the large thing behind your toilet bowl. If your toilet is not equipped with one – i.e. if it is tankless – jump to the second method.

If your toilet does indeed have a tank, remove the lid.

Step 2: Fill the Tank with Water

With the lid off, fill the tank with water until it reaches the overflow line.

It will take anywhere from 1.6 – 7 gallons of water to fill up your tank, depending on how old your toilet is. Older toilets will likely require more water to fill them up all the way, most new toilets, however, will only need 1.6 gallons.

Step 2: Flush Like Normal

At this point, you are good to go. The water from the tank will allow everything in the bowl to be flushed away through the pipes like normal.

Remember that this is a one time use. Once you flush your tank will not refill until the running water is turned back on.

If you want to repeat this process, you will need to refill the tank manually once again.

Method #2: Flush Completely Manually

If your tank or flushing mechanism is broken, there is no water in your toilet bowl, or you have a tankless toilet, you will need to follow this process. It is also fairly simple and will require less water than the previous method.

Step 1: Get a Gallon of Water

Collect the water in a bucket that you will be able to lift and pour.

This method will require only that one gallon of water in order to flush.

Step 2: Pour the Water Directly in the Bowl

Once you’re ready to flush, pour the water into the toilet bowl slowly at first, then quickly dump the rest of the water in. This will create pressure that pushes the contents of the toilet bowl through the pipes, so you will not have to flush the toilet at all.

When you use this method, you are not emptying the toilet’s tank, so you can leave any current water in the tank there. You are working solely from the toilet bowl, and once again, if you want to repeat this process you will need more water to refill the bowl.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

While the above processes should be pretty self-explanatory, below are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • A large bucket should be a basic part of your home’s plumbing kit. Keeping a bucket on hand is always smart in case of an emergency, and it can come in handy in several ways.
  • If your toilet does not flush all the way using the second method, you will have to use the first method or call a plumber. Do not keep trying to pour more water into your bowl to make it work.
  • If you have a pool or jacuzzi, you can use water from there. It is a good idea when you’re in a pinch rather than going to the store to buy multiple gallons of water just to pour into your toilet.
  • Do not pour the water in too quickly when using the second method to flush your toilet, as this may cause a clog. Your toilet cannot flush things too quickly, and if this happens, you may need a plunger or auger to fix it.

Can You Flush a Toilet During a Power Outage?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to flush your toilet during a power outage, your running water should still work despite not having power.

If, for some reason, your toilet does not flush, refer to the two methods above and report to your home water provider that your running water was shut off during a power outage.


Now that you have these simple methods down, you should not be too worried about flushing your toilet if your running water turns off.  What seems like it could be a quite gross task turns out to be a simple one where the hardest work you will have to do is lift a large bucket of water.

Just be sure to have a fair amount of extra water and a bucket on hand and you won’t have to go to the local supermarket just to use the bathroom!