You may want to replace or repair your toilet or maybe just give it a good cleaning. But, for any of these things, you need to empty the toilet. How do you do this?

The simplest way to completely empty the water from the bowl is to use a sponge and a bucket. Start with flushing the toilet and holding down until the water stops. Now use the sponge to sop up the remaining water squeezing it into the bucket each time the sponge fills until the bowl is empty.

Why the Toilet Retains Water

The way a toilet works is by siphon action. When you press the lever to flush, you are releasing the tank water into the bowl, and this drives the flush. The reason for this is that the hole at the bottom of your tank curves back up again. 

This creates a barrier the water must crest to reach the sewer. When you flush water from the tank into the bowl, you crest this barrier, draining into the sewer. 

The draining water fills the pipe creating a seal from the air below, leaving a low-pressure area behind it. Without air, this draws the water from the bowl behind it down the drainpipe.

This low-pressure area behind is broken up once the water becomes low enough. Then, the air gets between the flushing water and the amount of water left in the bowl. This creates a gurgling sound and explains why water is always left in the bowl when you flush

Why This Matters

Whenever you want to remove your toilet for any reason, whether to repair or replace it, you will be left with water. This is true, no matter how many times you flush. If you were to pull it off without taking further action, water would be left sloshing inside the bowl free to leak.

How to Empty with a Sponge

To empty the remaining water with no clog is easy as long as you are willing to get close to some toilet water. However, there are several potential ways to do it, but the simplest is to use a sponge and a bucket. 

Follow these steps to empty your toilet bowl with a sponge.

  1. Wear gloves. You will be coming in contact with toilet water, so it would be good to wear gloves.
  2. Shut off the water. Twist the shutoff valve on the wall behind your toilet clockwise until it stops.
  3. Flush the toilet. Hold the flush lever down until the water stops moving.
  4. Sop up the remains. Use a sponge and let it soak up as much water as possible.
  5. Squeeze it out. You can squeeze it into any container you have but try to use a large enough one. You don’t want toilet water spilling everywhere when you go to pour it out.
  6. Repeat. Keep repeating until the water is completely gone.
  7. Finish. You are done now if you only wanted to empty the bowl. But if you want to remove the toilet entirely, do the same thing to the remaining water in the toilet tank.


Empty with a Hose

  1. Gather your supplies. You are going to need a bucket, a hose, and some gloves. 
  2. Put on gloves. You will be working with toilet water, so you want to protect your hands.
  3. Put water in the bucket. Put some water in the bucket; leave the level lower than the toilet water.
  4. Add water to hose. Add some water to the hose and plug both ends with your fingers.
  5. Position the hose. While holding the hose ends, place one end in the toilet and one end in the bucket.
  6. Drain the toilet. Once the ends of the hose are in the water, let go of the ends. The water will drain until the water level in the toilet is higher than in the bucket.
  7. Use a sponge. At this point, sponge up the remaining water.

Plunge the Toilet

You can use a plunger to mostly empty a toilet whether or not it is clogged, but this is especially useful if it is clogged. Just grab a plunger and keep plunging the toilet until the toilet is very nearly empty. This should work, but it could take some time. 

If the toilet was not clean before you started, this could leave scraps of toilet paper as well as a small amount of water. Use paper towels to sop up the remainder and throw it away.

Scoop the Water Out

Another option for emptying the toilet bowl is to simply scoop the water out. Take a disposable cup or bowl and start taking the water out. Keeping doing this until you can’t scoop any more. Then, wipe up the remaining water with a sponge or rag.

How Much Water Should be in Your Toilet Bowl?

The amount of water you need in your toilet varies. The water a toilet requires per flush determines the amount of water the toilet tank holds between flushes. 

Since newer toilets use less water per flush due to federal regulation, the tank requires less water. The maximum water a more modern toilet can use per flush is 1.6 gallons.  

Whereas, an older toilet may use as much as 7 gallons of water per flush. Thus, these old toilets need a considerable quantity of water in the tank between flushes. 

To determine the exact amount of water in your tank, look for a line marked inside the tank. This indicates the appropriate water level. If there is no line, the water level should be about 1” below the overflow tube.

You will see the overflow tube in the middle of the tank. If you put the water above the overflow tube, the toilet will keep running, thus wasting water. Whereas, if you put the water level too low, you risk clogs or blockages in your toilet.

How Do I Stop Ghost Flushing?

A leaky toilet flapper can also cause ghost flushing. Therefore, if the toilet flapper appears damaged or broken, you need to replace it. Replace the flapper by following the steps listed below.

  • Turn off the water for the toilet. Find the water valve located behind the toilet. Then, turn it clockwise to shut the water off.
  1. Flush the toilet. Flush the toilet. Then, use a sponge or cloth to remove any remaining water. This makes it easier to remove the toilet flapper, which is located at the bottom of the tank.
  2. Remove the flapper. Detach the flapper from the ears of the overflow tube. This is usually located at the bottom of the tank. Next, unhook the chain from the flapper, and then remove it.
  3. Purchase a new flapper. Buy a new flapper that is the same type as your old one. 
  4. Attach the new flapper to the overflow tube. Carefully connect the flapper to the ears of the overflow tube. 

Connect the chain to the flapper. Attach the chain to the flapper. Make sure you allow the chain a slight amount of slack, otherwise the flapper may not close. Whereas, if it is too loose, the chain may get under the flapper and keep it open.