Dropped Plastic Cap Or Small Item In Toilet? Here’s What To Do

It's easy to make mistakes. You could be going about your day as normal. And then, whoops! A small item or cap somehow falls in the toilet. What should you do? If that's your concern, let's discuss the details. 

There are many ways to remove an item from the toilet. If it hasn't traveled far down yet, fish it out with your hands. If this plan fails, it's time to use a toilet snake to recover the item. As a last resort, you'll have to uninstall the toilet. 

It's never a good day when something gets stuck in the toilet. You'll have to get your hands dirty. It's not an easy process, but it's not too difficult. If you'd like to learn more on this topic, keep reading. 

Opening the toilet lid, Dropped Plastic Cap Or Small Item In Toilet? Here's What To Do

How To Retrieve Plastic Cap Or Small Item From Toilet

The first thing you want to do is check how far down the piping the item is. If the item is not too far inside, you could get away with fishing it out with your hands. It's disgusting, however, it's better than an expensive plumbing bill. 

Woman opening the toilet cover

It will most likely take some effort to remove it. Grab the item by any handle it may have and work it out. You can also use a toilet plunger to provide some suction to remove the item. 

Click here to see this toilet plunger on Amazon.

The small item will come up or go down the drain pipe. If it sits deep in the toilet trap, you'll need the help of a toilet snake/auger or a clothes hanger.

Wire Hanger

If you can't get a hold of the item with your hands, you can use a wire hanger to create a makeshift toilet snake. Straighten it out as much as you can. 

Make coils on one end of the wire hanger. This part will act as your hook to fish out the item. Then, bend that portion at a 90-degree angle. This way, you can maneuver the wire hanger through the toilet trap. 

A pink wire hanger

Work the hanger down the toilet until it catches onto the object you want to remove. Then, pull it out carefully. Here's a YouTube video demonstrating how this should go:

Toilet Auger

A toilet auger is a handy tool for items that sit deep in the toilet. It's a tool that combines a slinky-like figure with a cork-like tip. You want an auger that is soft enough to slip inside the toilet trap. 

However, it needs to be sturdy enough to push the item through. If you want to retrieve the object, skip the first method. Otherwise, the item you're trying to recover will be long gone. 

Plumber using a toilet auger

Before you start, make sure to turn off the water supply. Keep a plastic bag nearby. This way, you have somewhere to store your toilet auger after using it. 

Additionally, keep some dry towels nearby. Since you will be pushing the auger inside the toilet, the water level may rise. The towels should be nearby to keep your floors from getting too wet. 

Of course, wear any protective gear you'd like. Since the toilet auger will be traveling deep into the trap, a pair of gloves might be necessary.

Click here to see this toilet auger on Amazon.

Once you gather all the appropriate tools, it's time to start. Using a toilet auger is relatively simple. You start by pulling back the metal wire with the handle. 

Then, insert the 45-degree side of the auger into the toilet. Take the handle and slowly push it down. You might need to rotate it a bit as you're doing this. 

As you're lowering the auger down the toilet, it might get hard to push down. Don't let this discourage you from pushing down further; you are most likely touching the item in the toilet trap. 

Pushing down further will force the item to go down the drain pipe. Once the auger can't go down anymore, pull it out quickly. Clip the head of the snake onto the holster. 

Then, test your toilet to see if it's functioning normally again. For further help, here's a YouTube demonstration on how to use a toilet auger:

Uninstalling The Toilet

Of course, the plan above might fail depending on the item. Thus, we'd need a more aggressive approach to recover it from the toilet. More specifically, you'll need to uninstall the toilet. 

This step is time-consuming. In addition, you'll need to reinstall the toilet once you finish. If you're not confident enough to handle this task, it's best to call a plumber. 

Otherwise, let's go over the process.


Start by turning off the water supply. There will be a valve behind the toilet. It's typically a football-shaped valve. 

Turn it clockwise until it can't turn anymore. Some may only require a quarter turn clockwise to shut off. The next step is to remove all the water. 

Before you remove the toilet, purchase a universal toilet seal. Otherwise, you won't have access to a toilet for a few days. 

Click here to see this toilet seal on Amazon.

Draining And Removing The Toilet

We're going to access the toilet trap through the bottom. So, it's essential to remove all the water in the toilet. Of course, remove water from the tank too. 

The easiest way to do this is with a shop vac. Alternatively, use a cup to move the water into a bucket. Then, take a ratchet wrench and remove the bolts holding down the toilet. 

You may also need a utility knife to run along the bottom. It will remove the caulk at the base. Then, the toilet should be free to move. 

Retrieving The Item

Now you want to use the toilet auger on the bottom side of the toilet. This way, the item can only go one of two ways. It can come out through the bottom. 

Alternatively, it may come out on the other side. So, pull the auger's handle up until the metal coils no longer show. Then, stick the 45-degree angle side through the bottom. 

Push down on the handle and work the auger through the toilet. It will take several attempts to free the item. Nevertheless, it will eventually come out. 

If the item is small enough, you may not need the toilet auger. It could be as simple as pulling it out with your hand. 

Reinstalling The Toilet

Once you remove the item, it's time to install the toilet. Work your way backward. Before you install the new toilet seal, remove the existing wax one. Then, you can place the replacement seal. Lay the toilet over the seal. Lock it into place using the bolts. 

Finally, caulk the base of the toilet. Turn the water supply back on. You should be good to go now! Here's a video demonstrating how a professional plumber does it:

What Happens If Something Plastic Goes Down The Toilet?

It's not uncommon to have a few odd items go down the toilet. Maybe you have kids, and we all know that kids can be unpredictable. 

So, you might end up with a few plastic caps down the toilet here and there. Although it might not seem like a big deal, it is. As you might already know, plastic is not biodegradable. 

Therefore, it won't naturally go away. These plastic items will continue to collect in the drainage system. Grease will bind them together. 

Plastic cups on a white background

If enough plastic accumulates, it can lead to a blockage. In the worst case, it can affect multiple properties. Of course, it's always better to keep these plastics away from a toilet. Avoid putting anything in the toilet that shouldn't be there.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Toilet Clog?

Woman opening the toilet cover

Fixing a toilet clog can cost $150-700. It's not tough to see why that might be the case. The job will cost more if the plumber has to remove the toilet. 

Of course, you can do it yourself; it's not too difficult of a task, but it's a laborious process. And if you don't know what you're doing, you might damage something. 

Thus, you're paying for expertise and peace of mind. In any case, it's up to you to determine if it's worth calling the plumber. 

In Closing

Opening the toilet lid

Kids and pets make it impossible to avoid having random items flushed down the toilet. Fortunately, you don't need a plumber to remove it. You can do the job yourself, but it requires a little know-how. We hope you found this post informative. 

Before you go, do you have other toilet concerns? Are small bubbles appearing after flushing? To learn more about this situation, check out:

Small Bubbles In Toilet After Flushing - What Is Wrong?

Are you hesitant about caulking the toilet to the floor? For more information, check out:

Should You Caulk The Toilet To The Floor?

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