How to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger: 7 Genius Hacks
It’s never an ideal situation: A quick trip to the bathroom followed by a single flush and, boom, you’re dealing with a clogged drain or—much worse—a nearly overflowing toilet. If you find yourself without a plunger, you don’t know how to plunge a toilet, or if you’ve tried using a plunger and it didn’t work, you have a few unclogging options before resorting to hiring a plumber. You can usually take care of a clogged toilet or toilet overflow using items you already have in your bathroom or kitchen cabinets. Read on to learn how to fix a clogged toilet (and be sure to wear protective gloves).
1. Pour in Some Hot (But Not Boiling) Water
When you notice a nasty clog or your toilet won’t flush, your best bet is to pour in some hot water. You can turn the tap in your bathroom sink or tub to the hottest setting or heat the water up a bit on the stove, but don’t let the water get to boiling point. Pour it down the drain and let it sit for a few minutes to see if it loosens the clog. You’ll know if your efforts were successful if you see the water start to drain. Then, give the toilet a flush or two. In many cases, hot water is enough to break up whatever is causing the backup.
(Pro tip from a Bob Vila editor who recently used this technique: Cupfuls of hot water don’t help much, but larger quantities do. Fill a water pitcher, small bucket, or even your bathroom wastebasket with hot water—if the water level in your toilet isn’t already precariously high—and pour the water in while standing up. Repeat, repeat, repeat.)
RELATED: How to Use a Plunger the Right Way
2. Swish in Some Dish Soap
If you need to kick the unclogging process up a notch, fetch some dish soap from the kitchen and squeeze a generous amount, about a 1/4 cup should do, into the toilet bowl. Let the soap sit for 5 to 10 minutes so it has time to move down the drain and reach the clog. Then, add hot water (again, not boiling water) to the bowl and let the soapy mixture sit. In most cases, the dish soap will act as a lubricant and grease the clog in the toilet drain enough to get everything moving again.
RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: Best Toilets
3. Mix in Baking Soda and Vinegar
Who knew that something you learned in elementary school science would help with unclogging a toilet? Don’t try this hack in a toilet bowl that is already filled to the brim—you’ll want to either empty out some of the water first, or wait until the water level recedes. Here’s what to do: Pour 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar down the toilet drain. When the vinegar and baking soda combine, the natural chemical reaction will bubble up and loosen the clog. After about 30 minutes, follow up with some hot water and see if it drains. If it does, you’re good to go. If it doesn’t, repeat the process once more.
RELATED: 10 Ingenious Home Uses for Baking Soda
4. Use the Toilet Brush
This may seem a little unpleasant, but if you’re really in a bind and there’s no toilet plunger in sight, grab a toilet brush and angle the bristles down the drain. Pumping up and down a few times should be enough to loosen things up so the clog clears in no time. (If you want a plunger handy in case your toilet clogs again, you’ll find some good options in our researched guide to the best plungers.)
RELATED: The 8 Easiest Ways to Eliminate Bathroom Odor
5. Unwind a Wire Hanger
If you don’t have access to a drain snake, you can fashion your own using a wire coat hanger from your closet. Simply unwind the hanger so that it’s completely straight with the exception of the hook. Then, wrap a small rag around the hook to help prevent any scratches or damage to the porcelain and, while wearing rubber gloves, gently angle the hanger down the drain until you find the clog. When the water starts to drain, flush the toilet a few times to clear it out.
RELATED: 9 Clever Things You Can Do with a Wire Hanger
6. DIY Your Own Drain De-Clogger
Don’t run out to buy a commercial drain unclogging product. Instead, create your own DIY de-clogger by mixing together the following ingredients: 2 cups baking soda, 1/4 cup Epsom salt, and 8 to 10 tablespoons of dish detergent (add 1 tablespoon at a time). Pour the combination into individual muffin liners, then let them dry and harden overnight. The next morning, drop one into the toilet bowl, add 4 cups of water, and let it sit for a few hours to see results.
RELATED: DIY Toilet Repair: 5 Common Commode Problems and How to Fix Them
7. Bust Out the Shop Vac
Last resort: Rent a wet/dry vacuum from your local hardware store—do not try this with a regular vacuum. First, use it to empty the water from the bowl. Next, wrap the hose in an old rag to create a seal, then stick the wet/dry vacuum a few inches down the drain. When you turn on the vacuum, it should suck out the clog. Again, don’t forget the rubber gloves!
RELATED: How to Use a Shop Vac for Floods, Spills, and Other Liquid Messes
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How to Unclog a Toilet in 7 Ways
We tend to take a lot of things for granted, like the fact that our toilets flush as needed. No need to think about anything, everything just works the way it is supposed to. We don’t learn how to unclog a toilet because it always works.
Until it doesn’t.
Bathroom business isn’t perhaps high on the list of things we like to talk about, but the fact is we all at one time or another face the problem of a clogged toilet. Nothing to be embarrassed about. Stuff happens. And when it does, believe it or not, there’s more than one way to unclog a toilet. In fact, there are seven different ways to unclog toilets quickly. In this post we review:
- How to keep a clogged toilet from overflowing
- Different methods to unclog toilets
- Tools and materials you’ll need to unclog toilets
- When to call a plumber
First things first. A clogged toilet is a toilet that can overflow. If water is rising to the top of the bowl, you need to act fast to prevent a potentially flooded bathroom. There are two ways to stop a clogged toilet from overflowing with water:
Take the lid off the toilet and close the open flapper that is allowing water to continue to flow. Don’t worry about the water in the tank; it is as perfectly clean as your home’s drinking water or the water in the shower.
Reach behind the toilet and turn the water supply off.
Once you stop the toilet overflowing, you can move on to unclogging the toilet. You may not need them, but it’s probably a good idea to have some rags handy in case some water spills out in your attempts to unclog your toilet, especially if you decide to use some of the tools recommended below.
How to Unclog a Toilet 7 Different Ways
The Old Stand By – The Plunger
Every household should have a plunger. Why? Because a plunger is the best way to unclog a toilet. A house without a plunger is a house that should have had one if there is a clogged toilet.
Believe it or not, there are many different types of plungers While flat plungers are fine for flat surfaces around shower or sink drains, a plunger with a flange is better designed to unclog toilets.
There is an art to effective toilet plunging. To achieve best results, follow these steps:
Put the plunger in the toilet bowl and push down gently until you achieve a good seal. The first push is to get rid of the air. If you push too forcefully, you could splash dirty water upon yourself.
Now that you have a good seal, pump the plunger up and down with some force, but make sure you maintain the seal.
Finally, pull the plunger up to break the air seal. The water should rush down the drain.
If this has not fixed the clog, repeat these steps until the clogged has loosened.
Once you’ve unclogged your toilet, put the plunger someplace where you can easily find it again. Because there’s always next time!
No Tools Required – Baking Soda and Vinegar
If you don’t have a plunger handy, turn to the trusted non-toxic household helper: baking soda and vinegar. You might know that baking soda and vinegar are fantastic for a variety of uses, including cleaning many surfaces, acting as an excellent deodorizer and keeping drains running smoothly. Baking soda and vinegar are equally great to fix a clogged toilet without a plunger following these simple steps:
- Add one cup of baking soda to the clogged toilet.
- Wait two minutes.
- Slowly pour two cups of vinegar into the toilet. Baking soda and vinegar react to cause bubbles, so be sure to pour slowly and carefully so that the toilet water does not splash or overflow.
- Allow the vinegar and baking soda mixture to work for several minutes.
- Flush the toilet to see if the clog has cleared.
If this doesn’t work, consider buying a plunger or following the recommendations below.
Nothing to be afraid of – The Plumbing Snake
Like a plunger, plumbing snakes are handy tools for any homeowner. Regular plumbing snakes can scratch or damage porcelain toilets, so make sure to use a special toilet or closet snake, also called an auger. This special plumbing snake has a rubber coating that won’t scratch surfaces and protects the toilet’s porcelain.
To properly snake a toilet:
- Place the head of the augur in the toilet bowl.
- Slowly turn the handle of the augur clockwise.
- When you feel resistance, wind the snake back.
- Flush the toilet to see If the clog has loosened.
- If the toilet is still clogged, wind the snake back in and repeat until the clog is broken up and the toilet flushes easily.
Again, store the augur where you can get it easily, as just because you’ve unclogged a toilet once, doesn’t mean it won’t happen again.
Heat it Up – Dish Soap and Hot Water
Don’t have a plunger or snake? Out of baking soda and vinegar? Ok, here’s something you’re bound to have handy: dish soap and water.
- Put one gallon of hot water on the stove to heat up.
- While the water is heating up, squirt some dish soap into the toilet.
- When the water is very hot, but not boiling, carefully pour it into the toilet.
- Wait several minutes while the hot water and dish soap soften the clog.
- The toilet should now be unclogged and flushing freely.
Helpful Hint: You can also try to use shampoo and hot water from the sink if you want to try to clear the toilet without leaving the bathroom.
Not for the Faint of Heart – Wet/Dry Vacuum.
This is a truly unique method for fixing a clogged toilet. Caution: Consider only if you have wet/dry vacuum. Do not try this method with a regular household vacuum. You risk ruining the vacuum and, more importantly, the possibility of shocking yourself.
- Wear plastic gloves because you need to hold the wet/dry vacuum hose inside the toilet. If the bowl is not empty, vacuum the water out.
- Place the wet/dry vacuum hose in the toilet drain and wrap an old towel around the hose to create suction.
- Turn the wet/dry vacuum on, firmly holding the towel and hose in place. The wet/dry vacuum should create enough suction to pull the obstruction out. Thoroughly clean and sanitize the vacuum afterward.
Science to the Rescue – Drain Cleaners (Bio Ben)
While chemical drain cleaners are not recommended because they can damage plumbing and create chemical burn hazards, we do recommend you try an enzyme or bio cleaner, like BioBen. This product is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as safe for the environment.
- Pour the measured amount of BioBen down the toilet.
- Wait for BioBen to clear the toilet clog.
- Flush the toilet.
BioBen claims it can continue to work in your pipes to keep flowing free of clogs for up to a month.
When DIY Fails – Call a Plumber
If none of these methods works to unclog your toilet, or if you don’t have the necessary tools to properly unclog your toilet, it’s time to call in a professional plumber. A plumber is also your best option if you have a toilet that frequently clogs—that means you’ve got a serious problem somewhere deeper in your pipes.
You can count on Benjamin Franklin Plumbing to effectively unclog your toilets and drains. We take to heart the words of our namesake, Benjamin Franklin, who famously said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it. ” We’ve built our company around bringing a higher level of excellence to every customer experience. Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and our licensed plumbers proudly offer an on-time guarantee and a 100 percent customer satisfaction guarantee to meet all your plumbing service needs. Because we’re locally owned and operated, our plumbers are familiar with the plumbing challenges you face. If there’s any delay in providing your service, we pay!
And, by the way, there are other problems that can occur with your toilet besides an occasional clog. Toilets rely on the interaction of numerous parts to function properly. If a toilet isn’t flushing properly, it could be a problem with its plumbing or with the parts that make it work. Sometimes a toilet will function even though it has malfunctioning components. Even though it’s tempting to ignore, a toilet’s parts should be replaced once they start to break. If left ignored, they could fail. Even if they don’t completely break, malfunctioning toilet parts waste water and increase your bills.
Benjamin Franklin Plumbing answers your service calls 24 hours a day at 800-259-7705. Or request an appointment online.
How to clean a clogged toilet bowl at home
Not only household chemicals, but also improvised means will come to the rescue.
Why the toilet is clogged
A persistent unpleasant smell, despite regular cleaning in the toilet, poor drainage of water or its complete absence indicate that the toilet is clogged. Often this happens due to the ingress of foreign objects and products into the drain hole. For example, wet wipes, personal hygiene products, diapers, cat litter, rags, conservation, as well as food waste, which gradually leave fat deposits on the walls of sewer pipes. And traffic jams are formed due to the draining of building materials into the toilet. In such cases, you can try to solve the problem yourself or call specialists.
Sometimes the cause of blockage lies in the improper installation of sewer pipes or a toilet bowl. The blockage will appear again and again, despite the fact that nothing extraneous is sent into the hole. In such a situation, most likely, improvised means will not help and it is better to immediately contact the plumbers. Perhaps, in order to get rid of the problem, radical measures will be needed, such as dismantling the entire system or its individual parts, followed by repair.
Things to do before cleaning the toilet
- If a large object gets into the toilet, such as a toilet paper roll, a bottle of some kind of product, a block freshener or a toy, do not rush to flush the water. Put on gloves and remove the item by hand. Do not stick your hand too deep into the drain hole so that it does not get stuck.
- Sometimes a regular brush can clear blockages. Insert it into the toilet hole and try to push the plug.
- If a lot of water has accumulated in the toilet and it won’t drain, use a ladle or other container to empty it out before attempting to clear the blockage yourself.
- Pour 2-3 buckets of boiling water down the toilet – in some cases this will help the plug dissolve. Do this slowly, placing the jet at a right angle to the drain hole. If your toilet won’t drain, stop to avoid flooding and choose one of the options below. By the way, this procedure can be carried out once every 1-2 weeks to prevent blockage.
- Try turning on the kitchen and bathroom taps at the same time. If the fluid drains here as usual, then the toilet is clogged. And the stagnation in the sink indicates a more serious problem with the pipes. Do not try to cope on your own, it is better to contact the emergency service.
- If the cause of the blockage cannot be eliminated on your own, you should also not hesitate to contact the specialists. As in the case when the liquid from the toilet began to pour over the edge. Try to immediately turn off the water and call the plumbers.
How to clear a clogged toilet with a plunger
This method helps clear many clogs.
Grab the plunger by the handle, place the suction cup over the drain and give about 10 sharp pushes. If necessary, repeat the steps several times.
If there is no special device at hand, use a plastic bottle, after cutting off the bottom of it.
After the procedure, pour 2 buckets of warm water into the toilet bowl.
How to clean a clogged toilet with baking soda
Pour 5 liters of warm water into a bucket, add 250-300 g of baking soda and stir thoroughly until the product dissolves. Pour the mixture into the toilet so that it does not overflow and leave for 3 hours. During this time, the soda will help the cork in the pipe to dissolve. After the procedure, drain the water from the tank several times to remove any remaining contaminants.
How to clean the toilet from clogging with salt and soda
In this case, it is better to do everything in the evening and not use the toilet all night, so that the mixture can work properly.
Mix 1 cup salt with 1 cup baking soda and pour into drain. Then pour 1 liter of boiling water over the product and leave for 8 hours. After this time, the cork will dissolve.
How to unblock a toilet bowl with baking soda and vinegar
Pour 250 g of baking soda into the drain and pour 1 cup of baking soda (9%). Then plug the hole with a thick rag so that the resulting foam does not come out.
Photo: Victoria Kuracheva / Lifehacker
In a chemical reaction, soda and vinegar will corrode deposits in the pipe. After 30 minutes, remove the fabric, pour 1 liter of boiling water into the hole and wait another 10-15 minutes. Then flush the toilet.
How to clean a clogged toilet with household chemicals
There are many special products for removing clogs. They are sold as liquids, gels, powders or granules. As a rule, the principle of action of such drugs is similar: you need to send them to the toilet, wait for a while – an average of 15 minutes to several hours, and then drain the water from the tank two or three times in order to properly flush the sewer system.
Read the instructions carefully before use, as exposure time and method of application may vary depending on the type of product and manufacturer. Also, when working with household chemicals, wear gloves and a respirator so as not to harm your health.
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- What you can ask your property management company
- How to fix a toilet for someone who is not a plumber at all
6 ways to fix a clog in the toilet yourself without a plunger and plumbing costs
Think you can handle the clog yourself? You are not mistaken. You can fix the problem without a specialist in many cases. If you fail, it’s never too late to call a plumber.
Repair and decoration
Long hair from combs, hairballs and dust washed down the toilet after house cleaning, food waste, cat litter, foreign objects, and rags, bags or feminine hygiene products that accidentally fall into the toilet are very common causes of blockages.
Contents of the article
Fluid dynamics is easy
. It can be either a light blockage that you can deal with on your own, or a more serious problem that will require a specialist to solve.
If the blockage is not serious, then the water will drain slowly and badly, but still. To understand this, pour about 1 liter of water into the toilet and check its level after half an hour. Just do not press the drain tank button, as there is more water, and it can flood the floor in the bathroom. If the water drains at least a little, it means that not everything is lost, and the water enters the sewer. If nothing has changed, but at the same time, water drains normally in the adjacent sink or bathtub, most likely the blockage is in the pipe at the outlet of the toilet bowl. When water does not drain anywhere, it’s bad, the problem may be in the sewer system of the house, and you can’t do it with your own hands.
Almost always, blockages occur at the joints, bends and transitions of pipes, they should be looked for in these places.
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In other cases, there are quite a few solutions, but we will talk about the simplest and most affordable ones.
This method is great for wood cat litter blockages. If there is a blockage, heat the water on the stove without letting it boil, pour it into a bucket and pour it sharply at an angle into the toilet bowl. Leave for a few minutes to see if this loosens the blockage. When the water starts to drain slowly, it is better to wait a while and then pour another bucket of liquid. In many cases, hot water is sufficient to clear the blockage. Here you can also connect a plunger to speed up the process.
If you want a quick cleaning effect, take some dish detergent from the kitchen and squeeze about 1/4 cup down the toilet. Leave the product for 5-10 minutes so that it has time to drain into the sewer and get to the blockage. Then pour hot water (again, not boiling water) into the bucket and let it stand for a while. In most cases, dishwashing detergent acts as a lubricant and objects stuck in pipe bends begin to move in the right direction.
Sizzling mixture – soda with vinegar
Soda allows you to partially dissolve organic dirt and fats, which will help to quickly eliminate blockages. If the toilet bowl is already filled to the brim, pour some water into the basin, then pour one glass or half a pack of baking soda, trying to push it as deep as possible into the pipe, and after that, pour a glass of vinegar there and wait for the reaction. After about thirty minutes, pour 2 liters of hot water and see if it runs down the drain. If so, everything is fine. If this does not happen, repeat the process again.
Not the nicest way, but if you’re in a really tight spot and there’s no plunger in sight, take a toilet brush and place it as deep as possible in the drain hole. Pump it up and down a few times to try and dislodge whatever is keeping the water from draining.