How to Unclog a Toilet

Jennifer L. Betts
A man uses a plunger to unplug a home toilet

No one likes a clogged toilet. Before you call a professional, try these plumbing tips and tricks for unclogging your toilet with or without a plunger. Many tricks use products you'll already have handy in your bathroom.

Just Plunge It

The go-to method for unclogging a toilet is to plunge it. For this, you'll need the trusty toilet plunger. Before going to town on the toilet clog, make sure there is enough water in the bowl for the plunger to get suction. If not, you'll need to add some.

  1. Stick the plunger in the toilet drain hole.
  2. Now plunge in and out trying to push the clog down the drain.

Dry Laundry Detergent and Bleach

Sometimes for a tough clog, you're going to have to break it up a little before plunging will work. Bleach and dry laundry detergent can work to break up the clog first. You'll need:

  • Bucket of hot water
  • 2 cups of bleach
  • 1 cup of powdered soap
washing powder detergent

Now that you've got your supplies, it's time to work to break up that clog.

  1. Carefully pour the powdered soap and bleach into the bowl. You don't want to splash so being gentle is your friend.
  2. Add the hot water to the bowl.
  3. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Try plunging again.

If your bowl is full of water from trying to flush several times, you might need to remove some of it before adding in the concoction. Gloves will be your best friend, especially if the water is dirty.

Salt and Baking Soda

Looking for a more natural cure than the bleach cocktail. You can try baking soda and salt to break up the clog for plunging. However, this will take a bit longer. To get started, you'll need:

  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 6 cups boiling water

Prior to pouring anything in the bowl, make sure to remove enough water that you won't have an overflow. Then follow these simple steps:

  1. Pour the salt and baking soda into the bowl.
  2. Allow them to sink to the bottom.
  3. Gently cover with the boiling water.
  4. Let sit for several hours. Overnight is probably best.
  5. Give it a good plunge.

No Plunger? No Problem!

Sometimes, you don't have a plunger. Maybe you broke it in your attack on your overflowing toilet or your child thought it was a sword. Not to worry, just hit the closets for some clog eliminators. Again, if your toilet is very full of water, remove it before adding more from any of the recipes below. Otherwise, your bathroom floor may become very wet. Rubber gloves are also recommended anytime you are playing in your toilet.

Rock Salt

Rock salt isn't just for clearing your walkway. It can be used in a pinch to unclog your toilet. Before you start emptying the bag into your toilet, remember just a little is all you need. One cup rock salt with 2 gallons very hot water to be exact. This method is pretty hands off too.

  1. Dump one cup of rock salt into the plugged porcelain toilet.
  2. Let it sink to the bottom.
  3. Follow with the two gallons of hot water.
  4. Let sit for several hours.
  5. Give it a flush.

Hot Water and Dawn

In addition to breaking up grease, Dawn can work great to break up clogs as well. No Dawn, no problem, any dish soap that is a grease fighter will do. What you'll need:

  • ½ cup dish soap
  • Gallon of hot water

With your soap and bucket in hand, you are ready to clear that clog.

  1. Pour the Dawn into the toilet.
  2. Allow it a few minutes to wrap around the clog and dissolve the grease.
  3. Pour in the hot water.
  4. Shut the lid and let the suds do their work for 2-5 hours.
  5. Give it a flush.

Baking Soda and Lemon Juice

Just like that volcano that you might have made in science class, baking soda and lemon juice make a clog fighting compound. To get your experiment started, you'll need:

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 cup lemon juice

These two will react so be ready.

  1. Pour the baking soda into the toilet.
  2. Allow it to settle for a minute or two.
  3. Add the lemon juice.
  4. Allow the two to fizz away your clog for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  5. Try a flush.
  6. Repeat if necessary.

No lemon juice, no worries. Vinegar works as a great substitute.

Toilet Bomb

Toilet bombs can take a bit of preparation, so they aren't an on-the-fly fix. To make these clog fighters, you'll have to gather:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • ½ cup Epsom salt
  • 9 tablespoons dish soap
  • Muffin tin
  • 4 cups hot water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Stirring utensil
  • Aluminum foil
Handmade mint and lemon bath bombs

First, you'll need to make the bomb.

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix the baking soda and Epson salt together.
  2. Slowly add the dish soap, making sure to mix it all together well.
  3. Line the muffin tins with aluminum foil.
  4. Scoop the mixture into the aluminum foil.
  5. Pack it together and let it dry, preferably overnight.
  6. Pull the bombs out of the muffin tin and store them in a resealable container.

When a clog arises, pop the bomb into the toilet with 4 cups of very hot water. Let the fizzy goodness knock that clog out of the park.

Pull Out the Cola

This is a super easy clog fix, but it will take some time. If you only have one bathroom and can't wait, try a few of the others first. However, if you've got some time, this is a super easy fix. All you need is a 20 oz to 2 liter of cola.

  1. Pour the cola in the toilet.
  2. Let it sit overnight.
  3. Try to flush.

You might also notice that those toilet stains are gone.

Plastic Wrap

Bust out the Saran wrap, it's plunging time. For this unclogging method, you're going to need enough plastic wrap to cover the toilet. The better the quality, the better it might work for the fix.

  1. Lift the lid.
  2. Wrap the plastic wrap around the toilet, creating an airtight seal.
  3. Push on the plastic wrap, allowing the air trapped underneath to push the water down into the clog.
  4. Give it a good flush.
  5. Repeat as necessary.

Drain Cleaners

If you've still got a clog, you might need a bit more chemical help. You might choose to make your own drain cleaner or purchase something like Drano. Simply follow the instructions and bye, bye clog.

bottle with drain cleaner

Snaking the Drain

Not everyone will have a snake that they can use break up the clog. However, you might have a metal hanger. You can use this as a makeshift snake in a pinch. You're going to need:

Coat hanger, rag and duct tape
  • Metal hanger
  • Duct tape
  • Old rag

Before you start going to town on your toilet, you're going to need to prepare your hanger.

  1. Wrap the end of the hanger in the rag.
  2. Secure it with duct tape.
  3. Push the hanger into the drain.
  4. Twist and push your hanger against the clog trying to push and break it up.
  5. Once the water goes down, remove the hanger and flush.

Wait It Out

Sometimes there isn't anything that you need to do to unclog your toilet. If your child used too much toilet paper, gravity will eventually pull it down as the water dissolves the toilet paper. After a few hours or overnight, if you notice the water going down, you can give the toilet a cursory flush. However, be ready to stop the water in the toilet tank, if the clog isn't clear.

Call a Professional

If you've tried everything under the sun to get the clog out, it might be time to call in professional help. It might be that you don't have a clog in your toilet at all but a problem with your sewer line. Rather than make a stinky situation worse, give a plumber a call.

Sticky Toilet Situations

Getting a clog in your toilet can be a headache, especially if you can't get it clear. Whether you have a plunger or not, there are several methods that you can use to clear that clog.

How to Unclog a Toilet