What is this stuff in the toilet?
April 18, 2018 3:22 PM   Subscribe

OK, I cannot believe I am using a question for this but it bothers me at least once week. You go to a public bathroom. A nice, clean. well-maintained public bathroom. The toilet has a weird cloudy clump of what looks like dissolved toilet paper. But it’s like shredded.

What is that? It cannot be toilet paper that went down and then came back, can it? Oh please say no, because if so then other stuff that was flushed down is also coming back, and that would make me feel extremely disturbed! Photo of an example: https://imgur.com/a/wh586Sy (I kept waiting for the other stalls to be empty so no one would wonder what I could possibly be using a flash to photograph in there….)
posted by mmf to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
https://imgur.com/i6ycrbm Sorry, apparently this is the link to the pic!
posted by mmf at 3:26 PM on April 18, 2018

Yeah, pretty sure that's just partially dissolved toilet paper. Likely as a result of a less than powerful flush, or just a partially blocked pipe stopping the toilet flushing properly.

Why is that so disturbing? Wouldn't it be more disturbing if it was in a place that it wasn't supposed to be? Like a sink, or your hamburger? Or if it was something ELSE that had got into the toilet? It's just toilet paper in a toilet...
posted by Brockles at 3:29 PM on April 18, 2018 [12 favorites]

You're probably seeing remnants of an ass gasket.

if so then other stuff that was flushed down is also coming back

Sorry but with some toilets, especially the low-flow type, not everything goes away with the first flush.
posted by Rash at 3:29 PM on April 18, 2018 [6 favorites]

I could be wrong but that’s probably just clean or lightly soiled but wet toilet paper someone threw in there and didn’t flush all the way (like if they made a toilet paper rim around the seat). If you’ve ever spilled something and tried to clean it up with toilet paper it immediately turns into goo and/or starts quickly falling apart bc it’s engineered to do that to flush safely which is also why you can generally flush toilet paper but not paper towels.
posted by griphus at 3:29 PM on April 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

ass gasket

oh there’s a term for it
posted by griphus at 3:30 PM on April 18, 2018 [19 favorites]

Pretty sure it's dissolved toilet paper. I've always assumed (mostly because it seems the least gross, and so I like to believe it) that it's TP that was dropped in after flushing -- for instance, if somebody wipes off the seat or blows their nose or something after they've flushed, and just don't bother to flush again when they're just dropping a couple squares of TP in there.
posted by duien at 3:52 PM on April 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

It’s a free cowboy hat.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:57 PM on April 18, 2018 [10 favorites]

I have seen this usually on automatic flush toilets in ladies rooms where people are either creating their own “ass gasket” or where they have the little pre made ones. My suspicion is that the flow is not designed for that amount of toilet paper.
posted by corb at 4:14 PM on April 18, 2018

Realize that toilet paper is designed to dissolve and fall apart quickly when wet, because of septic systems and sewer/water treatment needs. Clogs are no good. That stuff is just partially dissolved toilet paper.
posted by floam at 4:14 PM on April 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

I always assumed that was an industrial cleaning chemical of some sort. My work bathroom is not often visited by others (I work with all dudes, in a basement that few others ever go to), gets cleaned nightly, and I often see this first thing in the morning.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:16 PM on April 18, 2018

It's the disposable complimentary tissue paper seat protector.

The middle insert dips down into the water, it's supposed to suck the protector off the seat and down with the flush. This does not always happen in time to fully flush w/ low water flush toilets.

(thanks for the chuckles!)
posted by jbenben at 4:17 PM on April 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

It’s when a toilet has a strong flush but some weird trajectory or low flow so there’s the power to tear up the paper but it doesn’t go down for whatever reason. If it makes you feel better it’s more that bits are left behind than coming back up.
posted by raccoon409 at 4:24 PM on April 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Dissolved toilet paper. Some public toilet flushes just kind of shred the paper without getting it down, and you have to flush two or three times. I see this regularly.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:33 PM on April 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've used a lot of toilets and I'm pretty sure it's toilet paper that didn't quite make it down the drain to toilet paper heaven.

posted by some loser at 6:38 PM on April 18, 2018

I clean public toilets as a part time job..... let me be the one to tell you that it's not pretty if you think about it.... so don't.

But, (heh) what happens is that the elongated toilets sometimes have a bit of a shelf near the front and sometimes the wad of t-paper ends up at the front area. When the old flusheroo happens, not all of the swirling water reaches up enough to float off that wad and it stays there, lurking, lying there for people to discover. And when folks take a look into that stall, they go to another one.... eventually the wad gradually disintegrates... or not.

Then someone like me comes along and gets to clean it. Usually, the first thing to try is a simple flush. If the wad doesn't dislodge, then "manual" methods are employed.

No matter what you think about public toilets; it's best to not think about it. Unless you have my job... then you can use the experience to create all kinds of nomenclature (cluster-bombs, miss-guided missiles, splatter-matter.....)
posted by mightshould at 6:55 AM on April 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

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