There is nothing more panic-inducing than looking down at the toilet and seeing the water rising. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, and if you don’t act quickly, you could end up with disgusting, waste-ridden water all over your bathroom floor. Well, if you find yourself in this predicament, don’t worry—there are many ways to unclog a toilet, and not just with a plunger!
The next time you have a clogged toilet, you will be prepared with these easy ways to unclog a toilet. We are going to dive headfirst into the (toilet) water and explain eight ways to unclog a toilet, whether you own a handy toilet plunger or not.
Why Your Toilet is Getting Clogged
Toilets are supposed to make our lives more comfortable, and for the most part, they do. (Could you imagine having to run to an outhouse?) However, there are times when they can become a pretty big hassle—especially if your toilet is getting clogged regularly.
Most of us know that a major cause of plumbing problems is that non-flushable items were flushed down the toilet. Things like baby wipes, feminine products, and Q-tips quickly stuff your toilet and cause clogging to occur. The best thing to do is to completely avoid trying to flush anything but human waste and toilet paper.
But did you know that there are several other reasons why your toilet might frequently be clogging? Let’s take a look at some of these reasons provided by “Why Does My Toilet Keep Clogging?”:
- Your toilet is old. Older toilets work with a lower flow, which means there is not enough pressure needed to clear the drains properly.
- There is not enough water inside the tank. Without the right amount of water, the toilet won’t be able to flush.
- Hard water is restricting water movement. If there is too much hard water in your toilet, the minerals may start to build up around the drain, which doesn’t allow the water to flow through easily.
- Your trap is clogged. The trap, which is an S-shaped piece found between the bowl and drain line, can become clogged up with too much toilet paper or non-flushable items.
- The vents are backed up. Did you know that modern toilets come with a handy roof vent that increases pressure for flushing? These vents can become backed up with all kinds of junk, from sticks to leaves.
- The septic tank is backed up or having difficulties. If you’re dealing with a septic tank, you may be standing against a truckload of other issues. If you think the septic tank is experiencing problems, you will need to hire a professional.
- The sewer line is clogged. Sometimes it has nothing to do with your toilet whatsoever. If your toilet won’t stop clogging up and there doesn’t seem to be an apparent reason, it could be a sewer line that’s become clogged with debris.
Common Ways to Unclog a Toilet
Now that you know some of the reasons behind a clogged toilet, you can focus on how to solve the issue. Remember, some problems like a sewer line becoming blocked will require a professional plumber to fix the problem. But for the most part, almost all clogged toilets can be repaired at home, whether or not you have a plunger.
Note: Before you try one of these methods, you may want to try flushing the toilet and holding down the handle for a little longer. Sometimes clogs are caused because you didn’t allow for a full flush by releasing the trigger too soon. Of course, if this doesn’t solve the issue, you have a real problem requiring one of these easy and handy methods:
Unclog a Toilet with a Plunger
The easiest way to take care of a clogged toilet is to use a plunger. And while it may seem like everyone knows how to work a plunger, the truth is not everyone does. Sometimes you may be using the plunger entirely wrong and not even know it.
We’re going to breakdown some easy steps inspired by “How to Unclog a Toilet with a Plunger” by Gary Hedstrom, Peg Hedstrom, and Judy Ondrla Tremore:
- Make sure you are using a funnel-cup plunger. These have a handy flange attached to make them easier to handle.
- Warm-up your plunger. Run the plunger under hot water to make it less stiff and easier to use.
- Turn off the water. The valve is typically located under the tank.
- Stick the plunger in the bowl and cover the hole with your plunger. There should be a bit of water surrounding the plunger.
- Add a little water, if needed. If no water is present, add a cup or two as this is necessary for dislodging the clog.
- Push the plunger up and down. Be careful not to break the suction.
- After a few “plunges,” break the suction. After you have pushed up and down on the plunger a few times (at least 4 or 5), then pull up abruptly on the plunger to release the suction.
- The clog should be gone. If not, continue steps three and four until you are successful.
Unclog a Toilet with an Auger
Sometimes plungers don’t do the trick, or maybe you don’t like using them entirely. If this is the case, you can get by with using a toilet auger. “How to Unclog a Toilet Like a Plumber” by Brett and Kate McKay shares the easiest way to use a toilet auger to handle your lodged-up toilets:
- Start by snaking the toilet auger down the toilet hole.
- Once successfully placed down the hole, start to turn the crank until it has come to a complete stop. When you can no longer turn the crank, this means that you have found the root of the clogged toilet.
- The toilet auger, at this point, will break up the clog in the drain. However, if the toilet auger has hooked onto something rather than breaking it apart, you can pull it out.
- Discard whatever has been caught by the toilet auger. Pro Tip: It’s not uncommon for an auger to hook rather than break, so you may want to consider wearing gloves during this process to remove the “waste” safely and sanitarily.
- End by plunging the toilet a few times. This is not necessary, so if you do not own a plunger, don’t panic. It’s a good idea to do so, though, if you own a plunger; this will clear up any leftover blockage.
- Flush the toilet. Your clog should be taken care of at this point, and the cleared toilet should flush with ease.
6 Ways to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger or Auger
Not everyone owns a plunger. For some, this may seem outlandish. But think about young people who have moved out for the first time and forgot this essential item for their home, or when you’re visiting a new friend and find yourself with a clogged toilet and don’t want to embarrass yourself by asking for a plunger.
Whatever the reasoning may be for trying to unclog a toilet without a plunger, the good news is that there are many different ways to unclog—in fact, there are six great ways!We will take a closer look at some easy and unique ways to handle the blockage without fancy tools or equipment.
The Dish Soap and Hot Water Method
This is the best option for anyone looking for a quick and easy way to handle blockage without a plunger. As a bonus, it doesn’t come with any expensive or complicated equipment. By utilizing dish soap and a bucket of hot water, you’re only relying on things you likely already have inside the home!
“How to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger” by Suzy Strutner shares easy-to-follow instructions to use the dish soap and hot water method. The following quick steps will fast track you to toilet relief:
- Start by squirting dish soap or shampoo in the toilet bowl. You can also cut up pieces of bar soap if you don’t have anything else on hand.
- Heat a gallon of water. The goal here is to make the water extremely hot but not quite boiling. This can be done in the sink right by your toilet, or you can put some water over the stove. Just catch it before it begins to boil.
- Let the soap and water break down the blockage. In just a few short minutes, the soap and water should break down the toilet paper blocking the pipes.
- Repeat the steps until successful. While this technique has much success on the first try, you may need to repeat it until you are ultimately successful.
Pro Tip: This method doesn’t just work for those who do not have plungers on hand. Adding dish soap before using a plunger is an excellent idea as it will help with the overall process. Your chances of success multiply when utilizing dish soap (or shampoo).
DIY Wire Hanger Method
A toilet auger is relatively similar to a wire hanger because they are longer pieces that can grab onto anything that is lodged inside the toilet. Unfortunately, toilet augers aren’t popular in households, as a trusted plunger can resolve most problems. But when you don’t have a plunger or an auger and need to act fast, the best option is making your very own wire hanger toilet auger.
“How to Clear Your Clogged Drain With a Wire Coat Hanger” by Tanya Klein inspired this easy-to-follow list of steps for a DIY auger:
- Straighten the wire hanger as much as possible. You will want to unwind the end with the loop entirely. Some people find that using a pair of needle-nose pliers makes this a cinch.
- Wiggle the wire hanger into the toilet bowl. Continue to push the wire hanger as far inside of the toilet drain as possible. When you can no longer push the wire hanger inside, you have likely found a clog.
- Pull the wire hanger out and dispose of the clog. You may want to wear a pair of gloves when doing this method as you will be required to dispose of some unsightly materials.
- Continue until the toilet is cleared. You might need to perform these steps a few times to ensure that everything is removed from the drain. Continue steps three and four until the toilet is successfully cleared.
- Flush the toilet a couple of times. This will ensure that any leftover debris is removed from the drain. You can also add a bit of dish soap and hot water during this step to ensure everything has slipped through the pipe, and there will be no further problems.
This informative video shows you step-by-step instructions on clearing a toilet using a wire hanger from home.
Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
Here is another excellent way to unclog your toilet without a plunger that utilizes ingredients you likely already have on hand. This makes it a simple solution you can whip together in a matter of seconds to conquer your toilet-clogging problems.
Let’s dive into this unique concoction with instructions inspired by “Unclog a Toilet with Baking Soda and Vinegar”:
- Start with half a toilet bowl of water.
- Pour one cup of baking soda, then slowly add a cup of vinegar. It is important to add the vinegar slowly as there will be a fizzy reaction when combined.
- Let the concoction sit in the toilet bowl for at least 20 minutes. This will give the ingredients time to blend and tackle the blockage hiding deep inside the toilet. The more time you wait, the better.
- Try flushing the toilet. At this point, you should be clog-free. If you still have a blockage, then you may need to try the concoction once more.
The Wet and Dry Vacuum Method
Do you have a shop vac lying around at home? This tool isn’t just great for handling messes around the house, but it can be used to unclog a toilet according to “How to Unclog a Toilet Using a Shop Vac” by Zander Chance.
One of the significant benefits of using this particular method is that it’s done in just four simple steps. In a matter of seconds, you will be on your way to unclogging your toilet and getting rid of any gunk that is causing the problem. All you need to do is this:
- Start by getting the water out of the bowl. Don’t worry. You don’t have to use a cup to scoop it out with your own hands. You can use the vacuum to get rid of all of the water quickly and efficiently.
- Place the vacuum inside of the drain. You will need to use the flexible hose attachment to perform this step. To create a tighter seal for unclogging, stuff a few old towels around the toilet bowl hole.
- Tighten the suction and turn on the vacuum. Your final step is to suck up whatever is causing the clog in your toilet. For this to be done, you will want to hold down firmly on the towels to create a hard suction and turn the vacuum on.
- Flush the toilet. When the vacuum has been successful, you will likely be able to hear it. Check the vacuum to see if anything has been picked up from the toilet drain. Then, try to flush the toilet and see if it is successful. If not, you may need to try steps two and three again.
Use a Plastic Water Bottle
If you’re all out of baking soda and dish soap, what’s the next best solution? Well, you will be happy to know that you can repurpose your old plastic water bottles to become clog-fighting powerhouses for your blocked toilets. Just be careful—this method can be a little bit messy.
This unique method for using a plastic water bottle to unclog a toilet comes from “How to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger” by HowStuffWorks.com Contributors, and we couldn’t be more excited to share it. This is undoubtedly one of the more unique and outlandish ways to unclog, but it works, nonetheless. Here’s how to do it:
- Try and get rid of as much water as possible. Unfortunately, you will have to do this manually with a cup. You may want to wear a pair of gloves to ensure your hands don’t come in contact with dirty toilet water.
- Fill the water bottle with warm water. You can also use other types of plastic bottles, such as a soda or juice bottle.
- Place the bottle inside the toilet bowl’s drain. Keeping a thumb, a towel, or another object over the bottle’s opening will keep the water from spilling out prematurely. You only want to uncover the top when you have reached the toilet bowl’s drain.
- Squeeze the bottle intensely. The pressure from squeezing the water into the drain should be enough to dislodge whatever is causing the clog. However, there is a chance that the water will splash back onto you. That is why it is highly recommended to wear protective gear, such as gloves, eyewear, and older clothes when doing this method.
- Pour hot water and a bit of dish soap into the toilet. If the water successfully goes down, then you have handled the clog. If not, then you will need to repeat steps two, three, and four until complete.
- Clean the toilet. There may be some leftover residue once you’re done with this method. If that’s the case, pour some hot water into the toilet bowl and let it sit for around 20 minutes before flushing. You can add dish soap or your favorite cleaning product, too.
Use Epsom Salts
Is there anything Epsom salts can’t do? This is probably the option used most often by those struggling with a backed-up toilet in someone else’s home, as it’s the most convenient, and most people will have these handy salts stashed underneath the bathroom sinks.
But how exactly can you use Epsom salts to unclog your toilet? “How to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger” shares the right way, and it’s really easy. All you need to do is locate the Epsom salts beneath the sink and slowly pour some down the drain. Ensure that you empty the contents of the package very slowly, as the Epsom salts will create a fizzy reaction that can unclog the toilet drain.
If you can’t find any Epsom salts, you also have the option of tossing a bath bomb in the toilet bowl. The bath bombs will cause the same fizzy reaction to get rid of the blockage in a toilet.
Toilet Clog FAQs
The following are some frequently asked questions regarding toilets and getting rid of those pesky clogs:
Do toilets unclog themselves over time?
Many people wonder whether or not their toilet will be able to unclog itself over time, and the simple answer is yes. Unless you are dealing with a severe problem beneath the surface, the toilet bowl’s pressure will eventually be able to dislodge the problem. Of course, this is only useful for those willing to wait it out, which could take several days.
When should I call a plumber for a clogged toilet?
Most clogging problems can be resolved at home, but not everything can be fixed without a professional. This leaves the common questions of when to call a plumber for help. “Toilet Tips: When to Put Down The Plunger and Call a Professional Plumber” shares the right time to let your toilet troubles be in the hands of the plumber:
- When the toilet line is frozen
- If you have tried plunging without success
- The toilet is continuously running
- You know something was flushed that shouldn’t have been
- When you can’t see the problem, but there is a definite odor coming from the toilet
Can you use Drano on a clogged toilet?
Lots of people assume that Drano will work in their toilet, just like it works in their sinks. However, only one actual Drano product is designed for toilets, but it does not unclog a toilet.
What is the best toilet paper to reduce the risk of clogs?
If you want to help avoid clogging and blockage from the source, you need to make sure you are using toilet paper that reduces the risk of clogging. “The Best Toilet Paper for Your Plumbing” by Jason Ingolfsland found that the best toilet paper choices were either Scott 1,000 or Angel Soft.
What are the best tips for avoiding a clogged toilet?
Well, there are several. According to “10 Tips for Preventing Toilet Troubles,” you can do the following to reduce the chances of an unwanted blockage:
- Clean your toilet regularly. Mild cleaners are recommended as opposed to harsh chemicals.
- Never opt for chemical drain cleaners when it comes to your toilet bowl. They won’t do the trick, and they can harm your toilet pipes in the long run.
- Fix a broken toilet immediately. Leaving your toilet in distress can cause further complications, so get your toilet fixed as soon as possible.
- Teach your children to take care of the toilet. Teaching them how to use it the right way and not put their tiny toys down the drain is critical.
- Never flush anything down the toilet except for toilet paper and human waste. Even baby wipes and paper towels aren’t toilet-friendly; in fact, anything aside from toilet paper and human waste is not safe for a toilet.
- Use your plunger correctly. Doing a good plunge on your clogged toilet will eliminate the problem entirely and keep your toilet running like new.
When your toilet is in clogging trouble, rest assured you can take on the challenge with one of these eight easy and savvy ways to unclog a toilet. Whether you’re using your trusty plunger or going for a more DIY trick like dish soap and hot water or a wet and dry vacuum, you can feel confident knowing that clogs are a thing of the past.