Every Single Possible Way To Unclog a Toilet

Written By Arnold Long
Updated On

Are you looking for a creative way to unclog a toilet?

If so, you’ve come to the right place!

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through:

  • Creative ways to unclog a toilet when you don’t have a plunger
  • The step-by-step methods that you can try
  • What to look out for when you try some of these more…innovative techniques
  • Every Single Possible Way To Unclog a Toilet

    And much more!

    So, if you want to fix your messy little situation without having to pay a professional, keep reading our guide below and try a few of these techniques (at your own risk, of course).

    As master plumbers, we get called into homes and businesses for all kinds of jobs. But I can honestly say that plumbing would be a much more enjoyable line of work if it didn’t ever involve unclogging a toilet!

    That’s why I challenged all of the plumbers I know to come up with creative and foolproof ways homeowners can unclog their own toilets instead of calling us. Let’s get started!

    Why You Need This Guide

    All of us have been in that embarrassing situation where we clog a toilet at a friend’s house or in a public restroom. There’s that immediate sense of dread and panic as the bowl overfills and a bit of shame when you see there’s no plunger in sight.

    A friend of mine once went on a first date and ended up having a nightcap at the woman’s house. He somehow had the nerve to be lenient with the toilet paper and ended up clogging it. I won’t say his name for fear of embarrassing him, but he MacGyvered a solution that worked and landed him in our friend group’s hall of fame. I can’t say that his solution didn’t inspire this entire article.

    A much more unfortunate situation took place when a co-worker’s family went on vacation. They stayed at a bed and breakfast, and the wife tried to flush a feminine product. The sewer system where they lived could apparently handle that on the regular, but the B&B was on an older septic system.

    I never saw proof of this, and the wife denies that it’s true, but the husband and kids all swear that the toilet overflowed into the bathroom, and the entire septic system backed up throughout numerous rooms.

    Neither of these situations is ideal…but if I had to choose one, I’d say coming up with a unique solution to unclogging the toilet and pretending the blockage never happened is a much better option.

    In a pinch, try one of the below solutions for clogged toilets.

    Use a Plunger

    Okay, this one isn’t exactly creative, but if there’s a plunger next to the toilet and you don’t use it, you deserve to be known as the person who clogged the toilet and made it overflow onto the floor.

    I’ll never forget the time I clogged a toilet in a friend’s restroom long before I ever became a plumber. Thankfully, there were two plungers in the room. I used the one I was more familiar with and went about my day. Problem solved.

    It wasn’t too much later that I discovered that this type of plunger is made for toilets:

    …and the plunger below, which is the kind I used, is made for sinks:

    Made the same mistake? Admit nothing, and correct yourself going forward. Also, tell your friend to sanitize the sink.

    Pro tip: if you see one of the above plungers in a bathroom and the below kind…

    …use the one that looks like an accordion. It’s called a “master plunger” for a reason!

    How Does It Work?

    Grab the plunger and place the business end down into the drain in the bottom of the toilet, moving aside debris if needed. Gently move the plunger up and down around five times before dislodging it and letting the water flow down the drain. If it doesn’t work, try again and continue until it does. If it forces some of the water down but doesn’t clear the clog, flush to re-fill the bowl.

    Why It Works…

    The plunger creates a seal around the drain, and the downward movement forces air and water down to push the blockage through.

    Use Hair Conditioner

    In most cases where that panic sets in as the bowl overfills, you won’t find a plunger. What you will likely find is hair conditioner.

    How Does It Work?

    Grab the bottle from the shower, add about a half cup, and let it soak in for a minute or two. You’ve already spent some time clogging the toilet; no one will notice another few minutes. Finally, flush the toilet and pray that the conditioner trick works!

    Why It Works…

    Conditioner is super slippery, and you can use it to lubricate the pipes and help the clogged material shuffle down the drain.

    Use Dish Soap

    Suppose you’re in a bathroom without a shower, or you’re in someone’s home who doesn’t use conditioner. Then what?

    You’re not totally out of luck, but you might have to sneak your way into the kitchen to grab the dish soap before heading back to the clogged toilet.

    How Does It Work?

    Add about a half-cup of dish soap to the bowl, wait a minute or two, then flush. If you’re able to, add some hot water to the toilet to help the clog along.

    Why It Works…

    Dish soap isn’t quite as good of a pipe lubricant as hair conditioner, but it can still get the job done. It will make the pipes around the blockage slick, which can help dislodge the clogged material and push it down to the sewer main.

    Use Hot Water

    Speaking of hot water, you can sometimes use it by itself to push the clog through. This is mostly a trick for homeowners who might not be in an embarrassing situation but still don’t have a plunger.

    How Does It Work?

    Get a bucket and fill it with hot water from your bathtub or a sink. Don’t use boiling water because it can crack the cold porcelain bowl pretty easily — totally not speaking from experience, but it might cost around $723.12 to correct this mistake and two trips to my…I mean a local home improvement store.

    Dump the hot water directly into the hole in the bottom of the bowl from a decent height.

    Why It Works…

    The force of the water can dislodge whatever is clogging the drain and push it through to the sewer or septic tank. The heat will help break apart human waste and any paper products that might be causing the blockage.

    Use a Hanger

    This trick is a bit dangerous, but…anything to avoid telling your date that you stopped up their toilet, right?

    How Does It Work?

    Head to the bedroom and find a wire hanger. Unfold it and straighten it as best as you can. Carefully insert one end of the hanger into the toilet drain. If you can feel the resistance of the clog, you might be able to move the hanger in further to push it through or hook it and pull it back out.

    Why It Works…

    The hanger acts just like a plumber’s snake, catching on the clogged material and allowing you to pull it out. Just be very careful not to be too forceful, as the metal can crack the porcelain.

    Vinegar & Baking Soda

    There’s a reason some people use nothing but vinegar and baking soda to solve all of their cleaning issues. When mixed together, they foam up nicely and create an all-natural pipe cleaner.

    How Does It Work?

    Mix about a cup of baking soda and two cups of vinegar. Pour the solution into the bowl and wait about a half-hour. You can tell the owner of the toilet you need to take an impromptu shower as a distraction.

    Flush after about 30 minutes and cross your fingers.

    Why It Works…

    Anyone who has ever been in an elementary school science class knows that mixing vinegar and baking soda causes some pretty impressive foaming. The foam will expand in the pipes and help to push the clog through, and the acidic vinegar will help any waste causing the blockage to deteriorate more quickly.

    Use a Plastic Bottle

    Remember that friend who MacGyvered a plunging tool? Well, this is it!

    How Does It Work?

    Cut about an inch off of the bottom of a plastic bottle opposite the cap. Keeping the cap on and sealed, insert the open end of the bottle into the drain at the bottom of the bowl.

    Move the bottle in and out in a rapid motion.

    Why It Works…

    The capped bottle acts as a makeshift plunger! The movement can easily create enough pressure to force the clog down through the pipes and into the main sewage line. You’d be surprised how well this works!

    Pro tip: wear gloves for this one if you can.

    Repurpose Your Toilet Brush

    The bathroom you’re in might not have a plunger, but you may find a toilet brush! Toilet brushes have a bendable metal wire with bristles on the business end, making them ideal for stuffing into the toilet drain.

    If the clog is shallow, you might be able to push it along with the brush itself. The bristles might create enough pressure to clear the clog, even if it’s deeper in the pipes.

    How Does It Work?

    Put the business end of the brush down into the drain and move it in and out rapidly about ten times before removing it altogether. If the clog doesn’t clear, try again.

    Why It Works…

    The brush doesn’t create the same seal as a plunger, but for minor clogs, the pressure created by the partial seal is enough to push the blockage down.

    Try a Vacuum

    Yep, that’s right: a vacuum. Don’t bust out your standard floor vacuum, though, or you’ll risk getting electrocuted and damaging the equipment. Instead, grab a wet/dry vac from the garage and get to work.

    How Does It Work?

    Place a hose attachment you don’t intend to use again into the toilet drain. You now have two options: use the suck feature to try to pull out the clog or use the blow feature to try to push it down through the pipes. Both can work; the latter will just create a bit more splashing.

    Why It Works…

    Shop vacuums work on everything! But really, the suck feature can pull the clogged material out of the toilet. The blow feature can create enough air pressure in the drain to dislodge the stuck material.

    Try Epsom Salt

    Epsom salt is like a cure-all for burns, cuts, and even sore muscles, so why wouldn’t it also make a good clog clearer?

    How Does It Work?

    Place about a half cup to a cup in your toilet, let it sit for a half-hour, and then flush.

    Why It Works…

    The salt can help along the dissolution of the clog material and make it loose enough to flush down.

    Use Coca-Cola

    Nothing says “safe to drink” like a liquid that can help clear clogs in your toilet, right?

    How Does It Work?

    Put about two cups of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or other sugary soda into your toilet, let it sit, and flush.

    Why It Works…

    If this stuff can take the paint off of cars, you can be sure it will dissolve whatever you flushed that caused a clog. Give it enough time in your drain, and it will eat away just about anything that’s stuck in there.

    Use Plastic Wrap

    This is one of my all-time favorite methods of clearing a blockage, and I’d use it for my client’s clogged toilets if I knew they wouldn’t see me doing it.

    How Does It Work?

    Get some plastic wrap and start spreading it over the top of the bowl. Your goal is to get three to four layers over the top with plenty of overhang over the edge. With each layer you put down, press down firmly against the rim of the bowl to create a good seal.

    Once you have a decent seal, push down firmly on the center of the plastic wrap.

    Why It Works…

    If you made a good seal, the pressure differential created by the downward pressure on the plastic wrap will force water down through the drain, which will dislodge whatever is causing the blockage.

    In case it wasn’t obvious, don’t re-use the cellophane for anything food-related…

    Drop In a Dishwasher Tablet

    If you don’t have access to a plunger, but you can sneak to the kitchen and back without your friend or relative noticing, grab a dishwasher tablet!

    How Does It Work?

    Simply drop a dishwasher tablet it in the bowl. If it’s not overly full already, give it a flush before adding the tablet to get some water in the bowl.

    Let it sit for a few minutes and flush.

    Why It Works…

    The chemicals in the tablet aren’t abrasive enough to destroy the porcelain or drainpipe, but they might just break up the blockage if you let them sit long enough.

    Wait It Out

    Maybe you haven’t clogged a public toilet or one at a friend’s house, and instead, you’re stuck in your own home or apartment with a clog. If that’s the case and you can’t get to a store to buy a plunger, you could opt to wait it out.

    How Does It Work?

    You literally just wait.

    Why It Works…

    If the clog is caused by excess toilet paper, it will disintegrate over time and become flushable. If it’s caused by human waste, time probably won’t help unless you’re willing to wait days. Some clogs, no matter what causes them, just come loose by themselves if you wait.

    Use a Mop & a Plastic Bag

    If you don’t have a plunger, you can make a makeshift one by wrapping the business end of a mop with a plastic bag.

    How Does It Work?

    Stuff your DIY plunger in the drain just like you would with a toilet brush and move it up and down vigorously.

    Why It Works…

    If the mop head is large enough, you might be able to create enough pressure to force the clog further into the drain. This should go without saying, but be sure not to re-use the mop if the plastic bag has a hole in it or comes loose.

    Use Your Hand

    If all else fails or you can’t find any tools, vinegar, conditioner, or other lubricating liquid, you can always use your hand. Just reach down into the toilet and pull out whatever you find.

    Just kidding!

    How Does It Work?

    The goal is to keep your hand dry by wrapping it in one or more plastic bags and then using it as a makeshift plunger. Put your protected hand down into the drain, and move it in and out a few times until the water drains down.

    Make sure you wash your hands and arm thoroughly after this…oh, and tell no one what you’ve done.

    Why It Works…

    Just like with a plunger, the seal made between the toilet and your hand will allow pressure to build up as you move your hand down into the drain. The pressure can help push along any blocked material.

    Use a Plumber’s Snake or Auger

    Maybe you don’t have a plunger, but you do have a plumbers snake or electric auger.

    How Does It Work?

    First, question why you bought that over a plunger. Next, insert the snake gently into the toilet drain until you can feel the resistance of the blockage. Twist the snake very carefully and slowly, just for three to four turns. Slowly pull the snake out and repeat until the clog is clear.

    You need to be very careful not to overdo it with a snake or auger. You can crack the bowl if you create too much tension.

    Why It Works…

    By manually removing pieces of the blockage, you’ll be able to clear the drain enough for the rest of the clogged material to flow down to the sewer main.

    Rent a HydroJet

    Although a HydroJet won’t help you in a pinch, it can be super helpful for clearing stubborn clogs.

    How Does It Work?

    Place the HydroJet into the drain and turn the water on. Be ready to shut it off at any moment, as it might overflow. Snake the hose down the drain until you feel the blockage. Continue moving the hose around until the clog is cleared.

    Be very careful if you do decide to use a HydroJet, as too much pressure can burst or crack the drains in your home and lead to severe water damage and costly repairs.

    Why It Works…

    These machines use pressurized water to force anything in the drainpipe down to the sewer main.

    Call In a Professional

    As much as it pains me to say this — because we plumbers really don’t enjoy clearing toilet clogs — you always have the option of calling in professionals like Mr. Blue Plumbing. We have professional tools to get the job done, so you usually won’t see us using our hands or a water bottle to clear your clog (but…we make no promises).

    Meet Your Plumbing Expert

    Arnold Long

    I've been helping folks with plumbing issues ever since I can remember. Some folks may think it's a dirty job, but I love it. MrBluePlumbing is all about helping folks find what they need to make their plumbing problems go away for good.
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