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How to fix a clogged toilet

How to fix a clogged toilet

In the realm of home improvement and plumbing, there are few situations as unwelcome as a clogged toilet. Picture this: You make a quick trip to the bathroom, flush the toilet, and suddenly, you’re confronted with the unpleasant reality of a clogged drain or, even worse, a nearly overflowing toilet. It’s a scenario none of us want to face but fear not! As a seasoned plumbing specialist in the industry, I’m here to offer my knowledge and expertise to help you navigate this frustrating predicament.

Now, let’s address the issue at hand. If you find yourself without a plunger or lack the know-how to plunge a toilet effectively, don’t panic just yet. There are a range of unclogging options available to you before resorting to the expense of hiring a professional plumber. Believe it or not, you can often resolve a clogged toilet or toilet overflow using simple items you already have within arm’s reach in your bathroom or kitchen cabinets. So, roll up your sleeves and prepare to discover practical solutions that will empower you to tackle this challenge head-on. Continue reading to find out how to fix a clogged toilet.

Why does a toilet gets clogged?

Image of clogged drain

Have you ever wondered why toilets sometimes end up clogged, causing all sorts of unpleasantness? Well, let’s dive into the reasons behind this frustrating issue. Understanding how a toilet gets clogged can help you avoid future mishaps. So, here’s the lowdown on what causes those pesky clogs.

One major culprit is improper disposal of items that should never find their way into the toilet. People often make the mistake of thinking that toilets can handle anything. But let me tell you, my friend, that’s not the case. Toilets are designed to handle only human waste and toilet paper. Flushing items like paper towels, feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, dental floss, and even cotton balls can lead to trouble. These things don’t break down easily in water, causing blockages that can disrupt the flow of your toilet.

Now, here’s a surprising fact: even seemingly harmless items like Q-tips can cause problems. Imagine this scenario: you absentmindedly toss a Q-tip into the toilet, assuming it will vanish with a flush. But here’s the truth: q-tips are not designed to break down like toilet paper. Instead, they can get tangled with other debris, creating a stubborn blockage. So, when it comes to the question of whether you can flush Q-tips down the toilet, the answer is a resounding no. Flushing Q-tips down the toilet is a recipe for disaster. If you want to know more about what you can and cannot flush, check out our page on toilet flushing guidelines.

By being mindful of what you flush down the toilet and avoiding improper disposal, you can significantly reduce the chances of encountering a clog. Stick to flushing only human waste and toilet paper, and make sure to dispose of other items in the trash. Following these simple guidelines will help keep your toilet flowing smoothly and save you from the headaches of dealing with stubborn clogs.

How-To | How a Toilet Works and Why it Gets Clogged

How to fix a clogged toilet

Pour in Some Hot (But Not Boiling) Water

In the battle against a clogged toilet, one tried and true method is the power of hot water. This simple yet effective technique can help break up the clog and promote smooth drainage. Here’s how to give it a shot:

First, heat up some water on the stove or turn the faucet in your bathroom sink or tub to the hottest setting. Remember, we want hot water, not boiling water—no need to turn your bathroom into a sauna!

Once you have your hot water ready, carefully pour it into the toilet bowl. Be generous with the amount you pour, as a little splash won’t do much. Allow the hot water to sit in the bowl for a few minutes, giving it a chance to work its magic.

Now, keep a close eye on the water. If you see it starting to drain, that’s a good sign! It means the hot water has successfully loosened the clog. To seal the deal, give the toilet a flush or two to clear out any remaining debris.

Pro tip: Here’s a nugget of wisdom from a seasoned expert—using cupfuls of hot water may not yield significant results. Instead, go for larger quantities. Fill up a water pitcher, small bucket, or even your bathroom wastebasket with hot water (if the water level isn’t already dangerously high). Then, pour it in while standing up. Repeat this process as needed.

Dish Soap Technique

When the going gets tough with a stubborn clog, it’s time to bring in the reinforcements—dish soap. This household staple can work wonders due to its lubricating properties, helping to loosen the clog and get things flowing smoothly again. Here’s how to give it a go:

Grab that trusty dish soap from your kitchen and squeeze a generous amount, around 1/4 cup, into the toilet bowl. Let the soap sit and do its thing for about 5 to 10 minutes. This allows it to make its way down the drain and work its magic on the clog.

Now it’s time to team up the soap with hot water (remember, not boiling). Add hot water to the bowl, filling it up enough to create a good mixture with the soap. The soap and hot water combo will work together, lubricating the clog and making it easier to clear.

Let the soapy mixture sit in the bowl for a little while to allow the soap to penetrate and work its magic. When you’re ready, give the toilet a flush. With any luck, the clog will have met its match and bid you adieu.

Remember, using hot water (but not boiling) along with the soap is key to the success of this method. So, keep those gloves on and get ready to say goodbye to that stubborn clog.

Mix in Baking Soda and Vinegar

Prepare to embark on a bit of a science experiment as we dive into the powerful combination of baking soda and vinegar. These two common household items create a bubbling reaction that can help break up the clog. Here’s what you need to do:

Before diving into the experiment, make sure the water level in the toilet bowl isn’t too high. If it’s already brimming, you’ll want to empty out some water or wait until it recedes a bit. We need a little breathing space for this method to work its magic.

Grab 1 cup of baking soda and pour it down the toilet drain. Follow it up with 1 cup of vinegar. Now, get ready for the show—the chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar will create a bubbling action that can help dislodge the clog.

Let the mixture work its magic for about 30 minutes. During this time, the bubbles will be doing their best to break up the clog. Once the time is up, give the toilet a flush to see if the clog has been successfully defeated.

If the water still isn’t flowing smoothly, don’t lose hope. Repeat the baking soda and vinegar process once more, and give it another go. Persistence is often the key to victory in the battle against a clogged toilet.

Use the Toilet Brush

Using a toilet brush to unclog a toilet

When all else fails and you find yourself without a plunger, fear not! There’s still hope in the form of a trusty toilet brush. Although it may not be its primary purpose, a toilet brush can come to the rescue in unclogging a stubborn toilet. Here’s how to put it to good use:

First, ensure you have a toilet brush that is sturdy and in good condition. You don’t want any bristles coming loose during the process—it’s a messy situation you’d rather avoid.

With your gloves securely on, insert the toilet brush into the toilet bowl and position it directly over the drain. Apply gentle pressure as you push the brush down into the drain, attempting to loosen the clog. It’s important to note that you should avoid any forceful or aggressive movements, as you don’t want to risk damaging the toilet bowl or the plumbing system.

Once the brush is inserted, begin the technique known as “pumping.” Move the brush up and down in a steady rhythm, using moderate force. This pumping motion helps dislodge the clog and encourages it to move further down the drain.

Be patient and persistent with the pumping technique. It may take a few tries to break up the clog and restore proper drainage. Keep at it, making sure to maintain a firm grip on the brush handle throughout the process.

Unwind a Wire Hanger

Using a coat wire hanger to remove toilet clogs

If you’re in a pinch and don’t have a drain snake on hand, don’t fret! You can fashion your own makeshift drain snake using a simple wire coat hanger. Here’s how:

Start by taking a wire coat hanger from your closet and straightening it out as much as possible. You want to create a long, flexible tool that can reach deep into the drain and clear the clog. However, make sure to leave the hook intact as it will serve as your handle for easy maneuvering.

To protect the surface of your toilet bowl from any scratches or damage, wrap a small piece of cloth or rag around the hook of the wire hanger. This will act as a buffer and ensure the porcelain remains unharmed.

Now, it’s time to put your DIY drain snake to work. Insert the straightened end of the wire hanger into the toilet bowl and guide it carefully into the drain. Gently push the hanger down the drain, twisting and turning it as you go, to help dislodge the clog and break it apart.

Once you feel like you’ve made progress, it’s essential to flush the toilet several times to ensure the clog has been fully cleared. This will help to remove any remaining debris and confirm that water flows freely down the drain once again.

Remember, while using a wire hanger can be an effective solution in certain situations, it’s important to exercise caution and avoid using excessive force that could potentially damage the toilet or plumbing system. If the clog persists or you encounter any difficulties, it’s wise to explore other unclogging methods or seek professional assistance.

DIY Drain De-Clogger

Sometimes, you may prefer a natural and homemade approach to unclogging your toilet. In such cases, creating a DIY drain de-clogger can be an effective option. Here’s how you can make one using common household ingredients:

To begin, gather the following ingredients: baking soda, Epsom salt, and dish detergent. These items work together to break down clogs and clear the drain.

In a bowl, mix 2 cups of baking soda, 1/4 cup of Epsom salt, and around 8 to 10 tablespoons of dish detergent. Stir the ingredients well until they are thoroughly combined. The resulting mixture will have a paste-like consistency.

Next, prepare individual muffin liners by placing them in a muffin tray or on a baking sheet. Spoon the mixture into each liner, filling them up evenly. Allow the muffin-shaped de-cloggers to dry and harden overnight.

Once the de-cloggers have hardened, they are ready to use. To apply them, simply drop one into the toilet bowl. Then, add around 4 cups of water to the bowl, ensuring that the de-clogger is submerged.

Let the DIY de-clogger sit in the toilet bowl for a few hours or even overnight. During this time, the ingredients will work together to break down the clog and clear the drain. It’s important to be patient and allow sufficient time for the de-clogger to take effect.

After the designated time has passed, you can flush the toilet to check if the clog has been successfully eliminated. If needed, you can repeat the process or try other unclogging methods.

It’s worth noting that while DIY drain de-cloggers can be effective for mild to moderate clogs, more severe clogs may require additional measures or professional assistance.

Bust Out the Shop Vac (as a Last Resort)

In some stubborn cases where other methods have failed to unclog your toilet, renting a wet/dry vacuum can serve as a last-resort option. This powerful tool can help remove water from the bowl and extract the clog. However, it’s important to exercise caution and follow the proper steps when using a wet/dry vacuum.

First and foremost, ensure that you rent a wet/dry vacuum specifically designed for handling liquids. Regular household vacuums are not suitable for this task and may be damaged if used with water.

To begin, use the wet/dry vacuum to empty the water from the toilet bowl. This can be done by inserting the vacuum’s hose into the bowl and carefully sucking out the water. It’s crucial to create a seal between the hose and the drain to ensure maximum suction.

To create a seal, you can wrap an old rag around the hose attachment, making sure it fits snugly into the drain opening. This will prevent any air or water leakage and improve the vacuum’s effectiveness in removing the clog.

Once the seal is secure, turn on the vacuum and direct the hose a few inches down the drain. The suction power of the wet/dry vacuum will help pull out the clog, allowing water to flow freely once again.

As with all unclogging methods, it’s essential to wear protective gloves throughout the process to maintain proper hygiene and avoid any potential contamination.

It’s worth noting that using a wet/dry vacuum should be considered a last resort, as it can be a bit more involved and requires special equipment. If you’re not confident in your abilities or the clog persists, it’s advisable to contact a professional plumber who can provide expert assistance and ensure the issue is resolved safely and effectively.

FAQ for Clogged Toilets

How much does it cost to clear a blocked toilet?

The cost of clearing a blocked toilet can vary depending on the severity of the clog, the accessibility of the plumbing, and the region you’re in. On average, hiring a professional plumber to clear a blocked toilet can range from $100 to $300. However, prices may differ, so it’s advisable to contact local plumbers for accurate cost estimates.

How long does it take for toilet paper to dissolve in a clogged toilet?

Toilet paper is designed to break down and dissolve relatively quickly when in contact with water. Under normal circumstances, it should dissolve within a few minutes to a couple of hours in a clogged toilet, depending on the toilet paper’s quality and the severity of the clog. However, persistent clogs may prevent proper dissolution.

What should I do when the toilet is clogged up?

When the toilet is clogged, you can try various unclogging methods, such as using hot water, dish soap, baking soda and vinegar, a toilet brush, or a wire hanger snake. Follow the step-by-step instructions provided earlier in this guide to attempt to clear the clog on your own. If unsuccessful, consider calling a plumber for assistance.

How do I know if I clogged the toilet?

If the water level in the toilet bowl rises significantly after flushing, or if the water drains slowly or not at all, it’s likely that you have clogged the toilet. In some cases, you may also hear gurgling sounds from the drain or notice water backing up in other fixtures, indicating a more extensive clog.

When should I call a plumber for a clogged toilet?

If you’ve tried multiple unclogging methods without success, or if the clog is severe and persists despite your efforts, it may be time to call a plumber. Additionally, if you suspect the clog is located deeper in the plumbing system or if there are other issues with your toilet or drainage, a plumber can provide expertise and resolve the problem effectively.

Can you wait out a clogged toilet?

It is not recommended to wait out a clogged toilet, especially if it shows no signs of resolving itself. Ignoring a clog can lead to further complications, such as overflowing or damaging the plumbing system. It’s best to take action and attempt unclogging methods or seek professional assistance if needed.

Can a toilet be partially clogged?

Yes, a toilet can be partially clogged. In such cases, the water may drain slowly or not fully flush away, indicating a partial obstruction. It’s important to address partial clogs promptly, as they can worsen over time and lead to complete blockages.

Where do toilets get clogged?

Toilets can get clogged at various points along the plumbing system. The most common location is within the toilet drain itself, where paper, waste, or foreign objects can accumulate and create a blockage. However, clogs can also occur in the toilet trap, the drainpipe, or even in the sewer line outside your home.

Why is my toilet clogged with nothing in it?

If your toilet is clogged even though there doesn’t appear to be anything in it, the clog may be deeper in the pipes or sewer line. In some cases, tree roots, mineral deposits, or other obstructions can cause blockages further down the drainage system, leading to a seemingly empty toilet clog.

Why do toilets get clogged so easily?

Toilets can get clogged easily due to a variety of reasons. The most common culprits are excessive toilet paper usage, flushing non-flushable items such as wipes or feminine hygiene products, or the accumulation of debris and sediment over time. Additionally, older or low-flow toilets may be more prone to clogging.


We have explored a range of effective methods for unclogging a toilet without a plunger. These techniques utilize simple household items and can save you from the inconvenience of a clogged toilet.

From using hot water to dish soap, baking soda and vinegar, toilet brushes, wire hanger snakes, DIY drain de-cloggers, to the last-resort option of a wet/dry vacuum, there are various approaches you can take to tackle different types of clogs.

If the clog persists or if you’re unsure about handling it on your own, it’s wise to seek professional help. Plumbers have the expertise and specialized tools to deal with more complex clogs and ensure a thorough resolution.

Stay resourceful and prepared, and soon enough, you’ll bid farewell to clogs and enjoy a smoothly functioning toilet once again.

Last Updated on July 14, 2023

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