Updated Jan 12, 2023
Most homeowners have experienced that dreaded moment of trying to flush the toilet and realizing that it’s clogged as the water rises instead of draining. While plunging your toilet can often manage clogs, there are some times when you may not have access to a plunger.
Thankfully, there are other ways to unclog your toilet without a plunger. Most solutions use common household items, so you can get your toilet working again without having to go to the store or call a plumber. Our guide walks you through simple solutions to unclog a toilet without a plunger.
One way to loosen a stubborn clog is with soap. While dishwashing soap works quite well, in theory, any soap should work. Soap can work its way around a clog and lubricate the pipes.
Start by pouring a generous amount — about a cup — of dish soap into the bottom of the toilet. Wait 10 to 20 minutes before trying to flush again.
If you don’t have dish soap, or the dish soap doesn’t work, you can try this all-natural solution. Add 1 cup of baking soda to the toilet, then slowly add 2 cups of vinegar. The vinegar will react with the baking soda and cause it to fizz — allow the mixture to fizz for 20 to 30 minutes. The fizzing reaction between the baking soda and vinegar should help to break down any clogs.
If dish soap, baking soda, and vinegar don’t remove the clog, try adding hot water to your toilet. Fill a bucket with hot tap water. Don’t use boiling water, as it could crack the porcelain in your toilet.
Once the bucket is full, pour it into the toilet from hip height. The force and speed of the water may be enough to clear up the clog.
While a drain auger or drain snake is the proper tool for the job, you can repurpose a wire hanger to perform a similar function in a pinch. Unwind the wire hanger until it’s straightened out, and prod the clog to loosen it before flushing. While this method can be messy, it works well.
If you have bath bombs on hand, they can effectively break up clogs. Similarly to baking soda and vinegar, bath bombs create a fizzy reaction in water due to the baking soda and citric acid they contain.
Using a bath bomb to break up a clog can also help manage unpleasant odors. However, you’ll want to ensure that the bath bombs don’t contain any material that could further contribute to the clog, like glitter or flower petals.
For this method, turning off the water supply and removing as much toilet water from the bowl as possible first is important. Removing water can be done in a few ways — using a wet vacuum, a small bucket or plastic cup to scoop the water, or a squirt gun to suction the water out. Once the water level is minimal, you can use a sponge to soak up the remainder.
After you’ve removed as much water as you can, you’ll need to fill a large plastic bottle with warm water. Cover the top of the bottle with your thumb, and place it into the outlet at the bottom of your toilet. Remove your thumb, and squeeze the bottle into the toilet drain. The pressure created by squeezing the bottle and the force of the water could be enough to dislodge the clog.
Unclogging a toilet can be a messy job. Practicing good sanitation and following these tips are key to keeping things as tidy as possible.
When you have a clogged toilet that won’t clear, you’ll want to avoid flushing the toilet until the backup is freed. If you flush, you risk the toilet overflowing and creating a huge, stinky mess. If flushing once doesn’t clear the backup of debris, don’t flush again until the drain is free of clogs.
Many commercial chemical drain cleaners eliminate clogs by way of a chemical reaction. While these can be effective for the clog, the chemicals create a heat buildup, which can crack the sensitive porcelain of your toilet. Don’t use chemical drain cleaners to avoid damage to your toilet bowl.
Wearing rubber gloves will help keep you protected from touching some pretty nasty stuff when removing a toilet clog. Of course, you’ll want to be careful about what surfaces you touch when you have the gloves on to avoid cross-contamination. The best practice is to disinfect and sanitize all surfaces after clearing blockages and wash your hands thoroughly.
Hiring a plumber can be expensive, and if you’ve got regular issues with your toilet backing up, consider a home warranty. Many home warranty policies include coverage for plumbing issues and can help save you tons on expensive repairs. Though unclogging a toilet is a simple fix, home warranty coverage offers assistance for many problems with your plumbing, from big to small.
A clogged toilet can be unpleasant, especially if you don’t have a plunger. However, many DIY methods can be equally as effective for unclogging a toilet. Just make sure to avoid chemicals that may damage your toilet further.
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