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How to Unclog a Toilet

How to Unclog a Toilet

A clogged toilet is a turn-off. You want to enjoy your time obeying nature’s call, but the very sight of your clogged toilet makes your head spin. When your toilet is clogged, you can:

  • Unclog it by yourself
  • Let it unclog itself, or
  • Call a plumber to unclog it for you

If you choose to do it by yourself, it is important to note that unclogging your toilet can be messy and a health hazard.

Also, it is wise to know when to call in a plumber. Your toilet could be badly backed up or has poop. If you are not a plumber, it’s better to call one. Again, the clog could be in the wall or somewhere basic remedies won’t fix. You should know when to seek the help of an expert.

How to unclog a toilet

There are various remedies for your clogged toilet. You can get your toilet in working order with these ideas that are not messy. Some may work, and some may not work, depending on the clog. It is essential first to determine what is causing the clog before using any of these remedies. You do not want to worsen things.

When the clog clears, you will notice a fast suction sound from your toilet, and water will drain naturally afterwards

How to unclog a toilet without a plunger

Use dish soap

When you notice your toilet is clogged, 

  • Get some dishwashing soap and pour half a cup into the toilet.
  • Let the soap sit for about 30 minutes before flushing. The soap will lubricate the clogged pipe allowing any lodged substances to slide down easily.
  • If you lack liquid soap, you can cut your bar soap into small pieces and drop them into the toilet. Soap is slippery and will work to lubricate the pipe regardless of whether it’s liquid or bar soap.
  • Ensure you remove excess water from the bowl before pouring the soap to allow it to work effectively.

Add hot water

If the soap alone does not work, consider adding water to push the lodged debris down the pipe. Hot water helps dissolve poop in the toilet. Avoid boiling water as it could crack the porcelain toilet. Fill a bucket with hot water, and from waist level, pour the water into your toilet. The pressure of the water will help dislodge any debris causing the clog.

Use a wire hanger as a drain snake

A stubborn blockage that won’t dislodge even after pouring hot water into the toilet may require manual moving. You can DIY a drain snake with a wire hanger.

  • Take your wire hanger and unravel it until it is straight.
  • Wrap one end of the hanger with a piece of cloth and secure it firmly with duct tape. The wrap prevents the wire hanger from scratching the porcelain surface of your toilet bowl.
  • Gently push this wrapped wire end into the clogged area
  • Prod the blockage (using a back and forth motion) with the wire until it dislodges and flows down the drain, or you tear it significantly so that water can push it down.
  • If you can feel the wire hitting the clog, you are on the right track. If you can’t feel any hitting, the blockage may be further down and require an expert to help clear it.

Use vinegar and baking soda

In place of dish soap, you can make a natural solution using some ingredients readily available in your kitchen.

  • Remove excess water from the toilet bowl.
  • Pour 2 cups of vinegar and one cup of baking soda into the toilet and let it fizz for 30 minutes. This mixture should help dissipate the clog.
  • Flush your toilet to check if the clog has cleared. If the clog doesn’t dislodge, try adding hot water as earlier discussed.

Use a plastic bottle

Before doing this, you should know that with this remedy, things could get messy. For hygiene purposes, it is essential to wear rubber gloves.

  • Begin by removing as much water as possible from your toilet bowl. Use a small container to scoop directly from the bowl, and pour the water into a bucket.
  • Get a large plastic bottle and fill it with warm water. 
  • Position your thumb on the top of the bottle and fit this top end into the outlet at the bottom of your toilet.
  • Once you fit the bottle, remove your thumb and squeeze the bottle to create pressure from the water as it flows down the pipe. The water pressure should dislodge the debris causing the clog.

How to unclog a toilet with a plunger

The best way to unclog a toilet is by using a plunger. With a plunger, you can have your badly blocked toilet up and running in a few minutes without necessarily flooding your bathroom or worsening the situation.

What you need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Plunger 


Identify the problem

It could be possible that your toilet is not flushing all the way. This is a sign that your toilet drain could be partially or wholly clogged. With a clogged toilet, the flush water doesn’t drain out or flush waste away. Also, the flush water fills the toilet bowl and drains away slowly, say in a few minutes. The ultimate test to know if your toilet is clogged is the drainage test.

Do a drainage test

If your toilet won’t flush, here is how to test its drainage.

  • Remove the lid of the tank
  • Slightly lift the flapper valve to allow about two cups of water into the bowl.
  • Check whether the water goes down.

Flushing a clogged toilet may flood your floor, have your mopping towels in place.

Get your toilet plunger

Now that you have identified the problem and have done the drainage test, get your plunger. A toilet plunger is primarily the only tool over 90% of clogged toilets require. When purchasing your plunger, get one with an extension flange on the bell-shaped rubber end as it fits toilets better and allows you to work effectively.

Get to work

With the ideal toilet plunger at hand, you can get working.

  • Wear your rubber gloves
  • Manually remove excess water from the bowl.
  • Turn off the shutoff valve to prevent unwanted overflows.
  • Pull out the rubber flange of your toilet plunger. A pulled out flange ensures the plunger fits perfectly and seals the toilet drain.
  • Gently plunge the toilet to force air out of the bell. The rubber bell is initially filled with air. A hard plunge forces the air back into the bowl, blowing out water on you and all over the bathroom.
  • Now that you have forced the air out, push your plunger in and out vigorously, ensuring there is enough water in the toilet bowl to cover your plunger. This vigorous movement moves water in both drain directions, effectively loosening the clog. Ensure you maintain the seal as you plunge and continue for as long as needed.
  • Pull out the plunger sharply as you break the air seal. If the clog has cleared out, you will notice water rushing down the drain as it should.
  • Turn on the shutoff valve and flush your toilet.
  • If the clog is a tad bit stubborn, consider using a toilet snake.

How to unclog a toilet with a toilet snake

A toilet snake is a handy tool for unblocking your clogged toilet and surpasses the need to use chemicals. To use, thread the snake and wind it around until the blockage dislodges. The snake can be messy, but it is far much better than using your hands. It is the ideal tool to use to reach clogs deeper down the drain pipe.

How to unclog a toilet with dish soap

For this remedy, you will require a gallon of hot water and about half a cup of liquid dishwashing soap.

  • Manually remove the excess water in the bowl to create space for the gallon of hot water
  • Pour the soap into the toilet and let it sit as the water heats on your stove.
  • Pour the hot water into the toilet carefully.
  • Wait for about 15 minutes for the soap and water to soften the clog.
  • Try flushing your toilet to establish if the clog has cleared.
  • In place of dish soap, you can use shampoo.

How to unclog a toilet with salt

A plumber can be expensive, and you do not want to use toxic chemicals to unclog your toilet. You can use salt as it is a natural product. You can use it with a combination of other products or by itself.

Table salt and baking soda

To remove a stubborn clog:

  • Mix half a cup of salt with half a cup of baking soda. This abrasive mixture breaks up the clog for easy flushing.
  • Pour the mixture into the toilet.
  • Pour in six cups of hot water slowly. Hot water helps loosen the clog.
  • Let the mixture sit overnight
  • Use a plunger to dislodge the clog as you pour additional hot water into the toilet
  • Flush

For preventive maintenance, you can add ¼ cup of tartar to the table salt and baking soda mixture. Use this mixture to treat your toilet weekly.

  • Pour the mixture into your toilet bowl
  • Add a cup of hot water.
  • Allow sitting for about 15 seconds
  • Pour a cup of cold water into the toilet.

Rock Salt

Rock salt works as a toilet clog remover and is recommended by plumbers to maintain the drain. For every two gallons of hot water, use a cup of rock salt. Stir it until it dissolves completely, and pour the mixture into the toilet. Leave the mixture overnight before flushing. You can use this method for monthly maintenance.

Rock salt is also effective in getting rid of tree roots infiltrating your pipes. If the roots are not dealt with immediately, they will get out of control and eventually block your pipes. Rock salt works by choking and drying them, leading to their death.

It further acts as a toilet drain problem deterrent because it continues to kill roots and weeds. It is advisable to treat your drain with rock salt twice a year to curb tree roots and weeds.

How to unclog a toilet with household bleach

Household bleach helps to break waste down, just like soap. It is an effective remedy for unclogging a badly blocked toilet.

  • Manually remove excess water from the bowl.
  • Pour two cups of bleach into the toilet and let it work for a few minutes.
  • Add one cup of powder soap.
  • Wait for about fifteen minutes for the mixture to work.
  • Flush your toilet to establish if the clog has cleared.

How to unclog a toilet when nothing works

If all the remedies you try fail to unclog your toilet, you may require to pull up the toilet. This major toilet surgery will need a few hours and some basic plumbing skills.

  • Begin by turning off and disconnecting the water supply.
  • You will then need to disassemble your toilet partially by unscrewing it from the mounting ring.
  • You will also require a new wax ring and mounting bolts for resealing the toilet back to the mounting ring.
  • If water is coming through other drains, this may signify that the problem is farther down in the main drain pipes and not in your toilet. At this point, you will need to call a plumber to get the job done.

Signs that it’s wise to call a plumber to fix your clogged toilet

It is advisable to contact a plumber to handle all blockage issues. The downside to calling a plumber is that they can be pretty expensive. Here are some signs to watch out for and call a plumber.

  • All the remedies you try fail to unclog your toilet
  • Your toilet keeps backing up, requiring you to use a plunger now and then.
  • If, after plunging several times, your toilet is still clogged.
  • If you notice any leaks after plunging. You may have damaged your toilet when plunging
  • Your toilet makes gurgling noises even when not in use. This noise signifies negative air pressure inside the pipes.
  • Other drains around your toilet are backing up. The reason why the drains are backed up could be the same issue with your toilet.

Will a toilet eventually unclog itself

A clogged toilet will eventually unclog itself if the blockage is caused by degradable things like poop or toilet paper. The unclogging may take from an hour to a day, depending on the amount of organic matter clogging it.

If other non-degradable items cause clogging, the toilet won’t unclog itself.

Is it bad to let a clogged toilet sit

  • Letting a clogged toilet sit is a bad idea as the toilet will eventually overflow, leaving your bathroom flooded with dirty water.
  • Also, if your toilet is old and the pipes are not in the best condition, the clog may cause leaks elsewhere within your home.
  • Letting your clogged toilet sit will cause additional pressure that worsens any existing leaks.
  • On the other hand, if the clog is from organic matter, letting your toilet sit is a good idea as this will allow it to unclog itself.

Can poop clog a toilet

Hard or large poop can clog your toilet. You can increase your intake of fibre-rich foods and water to soften your poop as well as reduce its size. If your stool is regularly large or you experience constipation more often, you should see a doctor for professional help.

What clogs a toilet

Most toilets are clogged by

  • Organic matter like toilet paper and poop.
  • Non-degradable products like cotton wool, wipes, and feminine hygiene products like tampons that are not supposed to be flushed.
  • Items like toys or crayons that your kid may have thrown inside the toilet.

How to prevent a clogged toilet from overflowing

Whether you decide to unclog the toilet by yourself, wait for help, or for it to unclog itself, it is essential to keep your toilet from overflowing.

  • First, turn off the shutoff valve. This valve is the switch that you will find behind the toilet. It allows water to enter the toilet tank. Turning it off will cut the water supply to the toilet, preventing your clogged toilet’s overflow.
  • If the shutoff valve is not turnable, try holding down the tank flapper with your fingers or use an object to keep it down. The tank flapper is the rubber disc inside the tank, and it controls the water entering the toilet bowl. Holding it down prevents water from entering the bowl.
  • You can also hold up the tank floater. The tank floater is the rubber ball inside the tank, and it signals the tank to fill with water after flushing. Holding the floater up will prevent the tank from filling.

Why does my toilet keep clogging

You may find yourself using a plunger now and then. Here’s why:

  • You have flushed non-flushable items that have caused the blockage
  • You may have a clogged sewer line
  • A plumbing vent could be blocked
  • Your toilet could be a low-flow toilet
  • Hard or large poop
  • Excess toilet paper

How to prevent your toilet from clogging

Keep your toilet cover down

This simple thing to do could save you from the terrible clogged toilet situation. It is the best way to avoid preventable clogs that are caused by flushing non-flushable items. If you have kids, keeping the toilet cover down deters them from throwing items like crayons or toys in the toilet.

Keep your toilet tank clear

Avoid using your toilet tank as extra storage space for items like soap or brushes. These items may get knocked into the bowl and later cause clogs when they fall down the drain.

Deal with slow drains immediately

If you notice a slow or weak flush, a clog may be forming in your drain. Deal with this problem immediately instead of waiting for the clog to worsen.

Avoid hardening compounds

Avoid pouring any liquid that will not stay as liquid down your toilet. Avoid products from wax, caulk or grease at all costs.

Check this too: How to Clean a Badly Stained Toilet

Proper flushing

Flushing too much toilet paper will clog your toilet. Ensure you only flush as much of it as is necessary.

If your poop is hard or large, use a lot of water to flush down the waste to prevent clogging. 

Flush your toilet with hot water once a week to prevent more clogs and get rid of foul odour.


When trying to unclog the toilet by yourself, it is essential to avoid using chemicals. Most times, chemicals do not work, leaving your bowl with corrosive water. And if they do, they are pretty slow. If you have tried chemicals and they have failed, pour as much water as possible into your toilet and leave it overnight. When plunging, ensure you wear rubber gloves and safety goggles to prevent the water from getting to your eyes and exposed skin.

Flushing non-degradable items will cause many clogs in the future if the items remain in your drainage pipes. It is essential to avoid flushing such items.

Finally, it is advisable to deal with a clogged toilet immediately for health and hygiene purposes. Also, call a plumber when you are unsure how to unclog your toilet or when all remedies fail.