How to Convert Any Toilet to a Low Flush Toilet

Toilets use the most water in our homes. Every day, Americans flush 4.8 billion gallons of water down the toilet. [1] Reducing the amount of water that your toilet is flushing away will go a long way to saving water in your home and helping to conserve it generally. With one easy adjustment, you'll save money, water and the environment… one flush at a time.


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    Fill a half gallon container. A plastic bottle (juice/milk) is ideal. Remove any paper or plastic label on the outside of the container. Fill it at least partially with pebbles, sand, or gravel - whatever is handy. Then add water if more weight is needed. If you just fill it with water, though, the container will move around in the tank and interfere with the mechanism.
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    Place the container in the tank of the toilet.
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    Carefully lower it into the water.
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    Replace the lid of the tank.
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    Flush away. The New York Times reported that a sealed half gallon container will save half a gallon on each flush. If you, like most Americans, flush 5 times daily, your family of 5 will save 350 gallons (1325 liters) of water every month [2]. These savings will significantly cut your water bill, too.
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    Send this article to your friends. Such an easy answer to saving money and protecting our water supplies is something to share around!


  • When your toilet tank fills, so does the bowl. The bowl however fills faster than the tank, and gets full first. So until the tank gets full, the water sent to to toilet bowl goes down the drain. So, consider getting a fill cycle diverter. It will reduce the amount of water sent to the bowl, and thus the wasted water. Also, because you reduced the tank's volume, you reduced the amount of time the tank takes to fill, which also in turn leads to less water wasted.
  • Try filling the bottle with loose coins (making sure to seal the bottle completely). When the time comes that you need a few bucks, that money will always be there.
  • Ask a neighbor for a plastic container if you don't have any. Also suggest this process to him or her as they can save money too.
  • Use a 2L glass pickle jar (or similar) without the lid. The glass is inert and heavy enough to stay in place in the tank. Every time the tank fills the water will be exchanged in the jar, keeping it fresh.
  • Some people put a sign in their bathrooms with this saying to share their water-saving philosophy: "If it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down!"
  • If your weight items are insoluble, don't cap the bottle. Leave it open so that it can exchange some chlorinated water with the rest of the water in the tank. This will prevent gunk buildup in the bottle without needing to add bleach.
  • Instead of sealing the container, you may want to cut it open at the top instead and put a small hole in the bottom. This way you wouldn't have any stale water in it, but still save on flushes. And no need to use any chemicals.
  • As an alternative to modifying an existing toilet, a new low flush toilet can be purchased for under $100 and cost $200 to $250 to have installed.[3]
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    Check the difference in your water usage on new bills; 350 gallons (1325 litres) a month is a noticeable drop!


  • Make sure the bottle does not interfere with any of the moving parts in the tank.
  • If you find your toilet is not flushing properly, with waste remaining in the toilet and water ending up on the floor, take the bottle out. Not all toilets can flush properly with a reduced quantity of water. Consider installing a low flush toilet.
  • Don't put a brick in the tank unless you know it's one that won't break down after a long time in the water. The brick may dissolve and particles of it can clog and possibly seal off the drain.
  • Many plumbers do not recommend this modification. Low flush toilets are designed differently, and less water flushing in a toilet not meant to do so can mean more frequent clogs, overflows, and extra flushing to remove the same amount of waste. (Which can waste more water than you are saving)
  • If you use water to fill the container, a couple of drops of bleach added to the water will help keep it from growing gunk inside.
  • A leaking toilet can waste up to 250 gallons (946 litres) of water a day[4]. To see if your toilet is leaking, place a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait for half an hour. Check the bowl - if the food coloring appears, you have a leak. Get a plumber to come and fix it. [5]

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic container with lid - juice/milk container etc.
  • Water, pebbles, sand to fill container

Sources and Citations

  • VideoJug. A video of making the toilet trick. Original source of article. Shared with permission.
  1. Ideal Bite, Toilet Talk
  2. New York Times - Reducing Water Use In the Home
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