How to Unclog a Toilet

picture of how to unclog a toilet

Use everyday items from around your house to clear toilet clogs.

We all have those family members or friends who use a solid half-roll of toilet paper after a go. Not surprisingly, they rush out of the bathroom and whisper into your ear, “I think I’ve clogged your toilet.”

Is there anything worse than unclogging another person’s mess? Yup. Unclogging it without a plunger. It’s a dirty job, but it’s gotta be done. We’ll aim to help make this process as quick and painless as possible. We’ll go over both using a plunger and alternative methods.

Resist the Urge to Keep Flushing

It’s tempting to try and flush a second time. If your toilet is truly plugged, this will only make things worse. If the bowl looks like it’s about to flood, turn off the water. The knob is usually located underneath the toilet tank.


If you have a plunger, go to town. The best plungers have an extension flange on them. This is a plastic piece that folds out from the bell of the plunger to get a better seal. Flip out the extension, and place the plunger in the hole. Make sure there is enough water in the bowl to cover the plunger. If not, pour some water in the bowl. Give it a few pumps and the clog should clear out.

When You Don’t Have a Plunger

If you don’t have a plunger, don’t panic. There are still a few methods you can try that will work.

Hot Water and Soap

This method only works if you have some room to pour in hot water.

You’ll need these items:

  • Soap, dish detergent, hand soap or another surfactant
  • Hot water
  • A bucket

Pour a large amount of soap into the bowl. Then you’ll want to pour hot water into the bowl. Don’t use boiling water. If you pour boiling water into a bowl, the rapid change in temperature could cause your toilet to crack.

Use the bucket to pour the hot water into the bowl. Let this sit in the toilet for about 15 minutes. Before you go, take note of the water level in the bowl.

By the time you return, the water level should have lowered a bit. If it hasn’t, you will have to wait longer or add more hot water. If there is no room to add more water, you’ll have to scoop some out to make room.

If the water level has drained, then repeat the process again. Add soap and hot water (not boiling), then give it some time to do its work. The water should drain a bit quicker this time.

Eventually, the water should be flowing freely. Repeat the process as many times as is necessary.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Remember elementary school when you created volcanoes with baking soda and vinegar? Well now you can relive your childhood.

If you’ve already tried to use a household drain cleaner, don’t attempt this method. Some household cleaners contain bleach, and if you mix vinegar with bleach, you’re asking for trouble. The mixture can create toxic vapors that could give your eyes or your lungs a nasty chemical burn and fill your house with fumes. Additionally, if you’ve already used one of these methods, using Drain-o is no longer an option.

The items you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Hot water

Use equal parts baking soda and vinegar. Be careful with the amount of each that you use. If you put too much in, you’ll end up with a volcano in your toilet. If your toilet is filled with water, you’ll want to use only a very small amount. If the water level is lower, you can use more.

Pour a quarter cup of baking soda into your drain, and then use equal parts vinegar. Be careful, the mixture will start to fizz in your bowl. Wait for the fizzing to stop before you move onto the next step.

Now pour hot water into the bowl. Again, don’t use boiling water.

Watch the toilet to see if the water level is draining. If it’s been cleared, you’ll hear that toilet sucking sound. If it hasn’t then you’ll need to repeat the process again. If the toilet is draining properly, flush once or twice more to ensure that it’s working properly.

If All Else Fails

If you’ve made it to this point and your toilet is still clogged, maybe it’s time to call a professional. Milani can ensure that your toilet gets running again in ship shape. But we can’t promise your friends and family will curb their toilet paper obsession.

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