Toilets will get clogged, it’s just a fact of life. And while a toilet may unclog itself on its own, more often than not, you will need to take some action.
The most common cause of a clogged toilet is flushing items that should not be flushed. While we are all guilty of flushing the occasional hair or tampon, making a habit of it is what causes problems over time.
Here are 14 methods you can try when nothing else works:
1. Use a Plunger
A plunger is often the first tool we reach for to unclog a toilet. Investing in a quality one can often save the day and help you remove smaller blockages quickly. We have this Neiko one, but you can go for something much cheaper too.
As for the steps you need to take, they are as follows:
- Put some rubber gloves on.
- Insert the rubber part of the plunger into the toilet and angle it to form an airtight vacuum.
- Push it down slowly, then start pushing more vigorously.
- Do this a couple of times, then quickly remove the plunger.
This should help remove a clog that is not really packed in.
2. Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
Vinegar and baking soda is a practically magical mixture that can work with all kinds of stains and clogs.
You will find different recommendations as to mixing the two. Some advise adding the baking soda to some water in a glass and pouring it into the toilet, before adding the vinegar. Others advise pouring in the vinegar first, and then adding the baking soda.
Either way, you need two cups of white vinegar and one cup of baking soda. Make sure to mix them in the toilet bowl, not in a cup or container. They will start to fizz and bubble as soon as they are combined.
Let this soak in the toilet for a couple of hours, they try to flush. Your clog should have been moved, and your toilet bowl will also be nice and clean.
3. Use a Plumbing Snake
A plumbing snake or toilet auger is also a good way to unclog toilets. It will require some precision and force though, so if you are afraid you won’t know how to use it, you may want to enlist some help.
Wear gloves before inserting the snake, and put its end into the bowl. Push the cable down until you feel an obstruction. Then push and twist the handle clockwise to break through it. You will be able to feel when you have removed the clog.
If after flushing the water flows away faster, you are good to go. You can give it another round just to make sure all of the debris is gone. Note that you may only have moved the clog further down your pipes, in which case you may need to repeat the process, or enlist some professional help.
4. Use Some Dish Soap and Hot Water
Dish soap and hot water may do the trick as well. Make sure you don’t use boiling water, as it may damage your toilet bowl.
You can boil a gallon or so of water and let it cool down. While you are waiting, pour some dish soap down your toilet and let it sit there. Chase it with the water and see what happens. If it continues to rise in your bowl, you will need to try something else.
You can also leave the dish soap in there overnight, to give it more time to work.
5. Use a Wet/Dry Vacuum
This method may be completely off-putting, so you may not even want to consider it. It involves sucking the clog out of your toilet bowl.
Get yourself a wet/dry vacuum and put some gloves on. Suck all of the water out of the toilet first. Then put the hose into the toilet all the way down and gently push it into the drain. You can tie a rag or towel you don’t need around it and push it into the hole to create some suction. Switch the vacuum on and suck the clog out.
6. Use a Wire Hanger
If you don’t have a plumbing snake, you can also straighten out a wire hanger and stick it down your toilet. You will need to wrap some cloth around it too, as you don’t want to scratch the porcelain.
Again, wear gloves, and gently coax the wire down the drain. Work it left and right until you find the obstruction. Gently push through it, and twist your hanger around to break it apart.
This method will only work if the blockage is near the top of the drain. Also, you may push it further down, especially if it is quite sizable, so don’t consider this method if you’re unsure what the blockage is made up of.
If you know you’ve flushed some paper towels down there recently, you can attempt the wire hanger trick.
7. Use an Enzyme Product
Enzyme-based products work well on organic matter clogging up a toilet. They are kind to your pipes and won’t damage them, and they pose no danger to your health either.
All you have to do is follow the instructions of the specific product. Pour the required amount into your toilet, let it sit for the required amount of time, and flush.
The downside is that this will only work on organic clogs, so if yours is caused by something else, you will need a different type of cleaner.
8. Use a Chemical Drain Cleaner
Chemical drain cleaners will work on other types of clogs as well, so you may want to try that next. The downside is that they contain some rather harsh chemicals you definitely don’t want to inhale. Be mindful not to let your pets near them either.
In rare cases, this kind of drain cleaner can also damage your pipes if they are corroded already, so be mindful of that as well. Use a cleaner specifically designed for indoor toilets and pipes.
Read the instructions carefully and lift the toilet seat up before pouring. Make sure to wear gloves! Don’t let the product work for longer than stated, and use your regular toilet cleaner afterwards to wash away any of the chemicals that might have not been flushed away.
9. Use Soda
You may have already seen people using Coca-Cola to unblock their drains. While it does seem like a gimmick, it actually works. The secret is in the soda’s acidic properties which can break down clogs.
You will need some Pepsi or Coca-Cola (any flavour will do). Pour a couple of cups directly into your toilet, and let it sit there for an hour or so. Flush and see what happens.
This method will work very well on organic clogs or those caused by an excess of toilet paper. It can help disintegrate paper towels or napkins as well.
10. Use Epsom Salt
Another household product you can use to unclog your toilet is Epsom salt. Just pour a cup of it directly into the toilet and let it dissolve in the water for half an hour or so. As the salt mixes with the water and travels down to the blockage, it will start to dissolve it.
This method works with wipes and paper items, as well as human waste. It won’t help you if the clog is caused by something made of cotton, for example.
11. Use Plastic Wrap
You can also try using some plastic wrap to unclog your toilet if you don’t have a plunger on hand. What you need to do is cover the entire toilet seat with plastic wrap and make it airtight. You will need several layers. Make sure it sticks to the bowl.
Then push on the wrap, making the air underneath it push against the water. You may need to flush to get more water in there, and to apply more pressure.
As you keep pushing, the clog should dislodge itself if it’s near the opening of the toilet. When you flush again, the water should drain away completely.
This may not work with sturdier clogs.
12. Use a Plastic Bottle
Before you consider this method, be advised that it may get messy, and you will definitely need to wear gloves.
Get rid of as much water from your toilet bowl as you can. Then fill a large plastic bottle with warm (not hot!) water.
Plug the top of the bottle with your thumb and place the opening into the bottom of the toilet. The bottle is upside-down, and you are preventing the water from flowing out with your thumb. Once the bottle is in place, remove your finger and simultaneously squeeze the bottle so that the water shoots down the pipe.
This may move the clog if it’s mostly made of human waste and toilet paper and near the opening.
If your clog is caused by materials that are water-soluble, sometimes your best choice is simply to wait it out. So, if there is too much toilet paper in there (for example, if one of the kids has flushed several rolls at once), or if you’ve been flushing paper napkins, giving the water time to work on the cellulose will resolve your clog.
14. Call Your Plumber
Finally, the one hack that will more likely than not unclog your toilet when nothing else works is calling your plumber. True, this may be the most expensive trick in the book, but it is also the one that will most likely ensure no damage comes to your pipes or toilet.
Wrapping It Up
A clogged toilet can be quite the nightmare, especially if it is also overflowing, or if it’s accompanied by a particularly foul smell. Try these methods out and let us know which one worked!