Unclog a toilet

7 Ways to Unclog a Toilet

Plunging a clogged toilet is no fun, but there’s a better way. If your toilet bowl is already filled to the brim, either empty some of the water or be prepared for a little overflow. Fortunately, these tips will help you unclog your toilet.

Suction cup

Prevent the toilet from overflowing.

If the water in the toilet bowl does not drain properly after the first flush, you should not flush again. Otherwise, more water will run into the toilet bowl. Instead, take the lid off the tank and close the drain valve. When the drain valve is closed, no more water flows into the toilet bowl. On older cisterns, the drain valve is a round plug with a chain attached. More modern cisterns have a slider that you can use to regulate the sinking of the cistern plunger. The cistern is not dirty; you are welcome to dip your hand in the water to close the valve.

Prepare the bathroom.

In the event of a spill, cover the floor with newspaper or paper towels to soak up any liquid. This will also make cleaning easier for you later. You should also turn on the fan or open a window to combat the bad smells. If the constipation is severe, you should put on rubber gloves. Toilets are unsanitary, but a good pair of rubber gloves will protect you from pathogens. Opt for gloves that come up to your elbows. In case you make a mess, it’s also best to change into old clothes.

Try to unclog the blockage.

If you can see the cause of the clog, reach into the toilet and remove it if possible. If you can’t get your hands on the offender but know an object (such as a toy) in the toilet causing the clog, leave the plunger and try another method.

Use a good-quality plunger.

You must use a sturdy suction cup, whether it’s spherical or has a movable flange at the bottom that seals the whole thing. Don’t use small, cheap suction cups, as they usually don’t work well. If your plunger isn’t airtight, try wrapping an old rag around the end to keep air out. Run hot water over the plunger before use. This softens the rubber, so the suction cup seals better.

Insert the plunger into the toilet bowl.

Make sure the bell completely covers the hole. The suction cup must be fully submerged in the water to perform its function. You must be pulling up and pushing down on water, not air. If necessary, add some more water from the sink to the bowl. Hold the plunger over the drain in a pumping motion. Start slowly, as the first pump will force air into the toilet bowl. Push down on the plunger, then pull it back up abruptly to loosen the clog. Continue this strong push and pull until the water begins to drain away. You may have to repeat this 15 to 20 times before the clog clears. Be patient; as long as you know there is no solid object in the drain, working with a plunger is often sufficient. It may not work right away, but with a few repeated efforts/flushes, which may be a dozen or so, it should do the trick.

Flush the toilet to see if it drains again.

When pumping causes the water to drain out of the toilet bowl, simply leave the plunger in the bowl and refill with water. Add as much water as is usually in the bowl after each rinse. Stubborn clogs may require more frequent refills.

Enzyme product

Get an enzyme-based sanitary fluid.

Look for a product that contains a blend of enzymes that liquefy feces and waste matter. These enzymes are used in septic tanks to break down waste. Products of this type can usually be found in hardware stores or the plumbing department. Enzyme products are preferable to drain-cleaning chemicals because they won’t harm your pipes or the environment. This method only works for organic waste, not toys or other man-made items.

Follow the directions for the use of the product.

Pour the recommended amount of the enzyme product into the toilet bowl. Usually, you should leave the remedy on overnight to allow the enzymes to clear constipation. Once the clog is cleared, the toilet should normally drain again.

Homemade drain cleaner

Heat two liters of water.

If your toilet is frequently clogged with excess feces, a mixture of hot water, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate; also known as baking soda or Bullrich salt), and vinegar can often solve the problem as a commercial drain cleaner. Bring two liters of water to a boil, then let it cool while you pour the other ingredients into the toilet bowl. Use at least two liters of water. It won’t work with less water because there won’t be enough pressure to loosen the clog. The water should not be hotter than the drinking temperature. It should not be boiling as very hot water can crack the porcelain. The temperature of the water flowing through the pipe or being pushed through the clog just needs to be higher than usual.

Pour 200g baking soda and 250ml vinegar into the toilet bowl.

The baking soda and vinegar will start a chemical process to help clear the clog. Inexpensive brandy vinegar or diluted vinegar essence is commonly used for this, but any vinegar will do. The mixture will foam very much. If you don’t have baking soda and vinegar handy, try a few squirts of dish soap. The surfactants could also help clear the clog. This method tends not to work for blockages caused by solid objects (e.g. a toy).

Pour the hot water into the toilet bowl.

Pour it into the bowl from waist height, not straight off the rim. The pressure of pouring the water into the toilet bowl from a certain height can also help unclog the clog.

Leave the mixture in the toilet bowl overnight.

The water should have drained by the next morning. This homemade drain cleaner should successfully unclog organic clogs. If the water didn’t drain on the second try, something solid could have caused the clog. Then try to unclog the clog with a wire hanger or drain coil.

Drain spiral

Buy or rent a drain coil.

A drain coil (also known as a drain wire or drain snake) is a flexible shaft that can “snake” through the bends of a drain pipe and penetrate deeper than the wire. A long-handled, cranked drain cleaning cable, specially designed for cleaning clogged toilets, works best as it will not damage or stain the toilet bowl. A plumber would certainly use such a pipe-cleaning spiral.

Insert the end of the drain spiral into the pipe.

Keep pushing it in, pushing it further and further down the pipe until you feel an obstacle.

Twist and push the drain spiral through the obstacle.

Your goal is to break the clog into smaller pieces that can fit through the pipe. It may take a few minutes to work your way through the clog. Once the water starts draining again, flush the toilet to see if the water drains as quickly as usual.

Insert the drain spiral the other way around.

Sometimes, you may have to disassemble the toilet and insert the drain coil from the other side. This is especially true for particularly stubborn blockages caused by a curious child. If you know there is a solid object in the drain pipe, and don’t want to disassemble and reassemble the toilet yourself, you should call a plumber.

Wire hanger

Unwind and straighten a wire coat hanger.

Then, wrap a rag around one end of the wire and secure it with electrical tape. This will prevent the pointy end from damaging your toilet. This wire hang method is generally successful when an obstruction is only a few inches down the pipe.

Stick the wrapped wire end into the drainpipe.

Once the wire is in the pipe, twist, push, and maneuver it in a circular motion to unclog the drain. Push when you can feel the obstacle. Continue until the water begins to drain. Remember to wear rubber gloves when doing this. Something may splatter as you move the wire back and forth. If you can’t feel the obstruction and the toilet won’t drain, the clog is deeper than the wire hanger can reach. Then try the drain spiral method to clear the clog.

Flush once the water has drained.

The obstruction and water should now be able to drain through the pipe as usual. If the water is slow to drain, the obstruction has probably been pushed deeper into the pipe and out of reach of the wire hanger. In this case, you will need to use a drain coil to unclog the drain.

Chemical drain cleaner

Purchase a chemical drain cleaner.

These products are available at most supermarkets, hardware stores, and department stores. Use this method only as a last resort. The chemicals in drain cleaners are toxic to humans and animals and will damage pipes. Drain cleaners containing chlorine are also extremely harmful to the environment. Do not use a chemical solution if you suspect a solid object is causing the clog. Instead, use a drain coil or call a plumber. Only use chemical products specifically designed for toilets. Other chemicals could damage the toilet and pipes.

Pour the specified amount into the toilet bowl.

Make sure you follow the instructions for use exactly. Close the toilet lid to prevent toxic fumes in your bathroom. Never use a plunger after placing a chemical drain cleaner in the toilet bowl. The chemicals could splash up and get on your skin. Ensure you ventilate the bathroom well, so you don’t inhale the chemicals.

Wet/dry vacuum cleaner

Buy or rent a wet/dry vacuum.

If the plunger and drain coil didn’t work for you, consider using a wet/dry vacuum. Don’t use an ordinary vacuum cleaner – it has to be a wet/dry vacuum, as only this can pick up water.

Use the vacuum to remove the water from the toilet bowl.

All water and other debris must be removed from the toilet for the vacuum to suck out the clog.

Insert the end of the hose into the drain.

Push the hose several inches down the toilet bowl drain. Only use the flexible hose and no attachment. Wrap an old towel around the drain to seal it airtight.

Turn on the wet/dry vacuum.

Use one hand to apply pressure to the towel, so it seals properly. Let the vacuum work for a while. Chances are he can suck out the clog.


About the Author

Karren Brandenburg

Karren Brandenburg is a travel and shopping expert. She has been quoted in Street Insider, Yahoo Finance, Reuters, ABC News, and MarketWatch. Karren has a total of 18 credit cards, using reward points to see the world on a budget.