7 Ways to Unclog a Toilet

How to unclog a toilet

How to Unclog a Toilet and Get Flushing Again

We tend to take a lot of things for granted, like the fact that our toilets flush as needed. No need to think about anything, everything just works the way it is supposed to. We don’t learn how to unclog a toilet because it always works.

Until it doesn’t.

Bathroom business isn’t perhaps high on the list of things we like to talk about, but the fact is we all at one time or another face the problem of a clogged toilet or backed up toilet. Nothing to be embarrassed about. Clogged toilets happen. And when it does, believe it or not, there’s more than one way to unclog a toilet if the water pressure doesn’t automatically do it for you. In fact, there are seven different ways to unclog toilets quickly, yourself. We’re covering DIY solutions (no need looking for a cheap plumber to unclog toilet or Googling “best plumbers near me”) which is why we won’t cover how to roto router a toilet to remove the toilet’s block or when your toilet flushes slowly. In this post we review how to unblock a toilet and tips to unclog a toilet:

  • How to keep a clogged toilet from overflowing
  • Different methods to unclog toilets
  • Tools and materials you’ll need to unclog toilets
  • When to call a plumber

Stop Toilet Overflow…Now!

Your toilet won’t flush, water rises? First things first. A clogged toilet is a toilet that can overflow. If water is rising to the top of the bowl, you need to act fast to prevent a potentially flooded bathroom. There are two ways to stop a clogged toilet from overflowing with water:

Take the lid off the toilet and close the open flapper that is allowing water to continue to flow. Don’t worry about the water in the toilet tank; it is as perfectly clean as your home’s drinking water or the water in the shower.
Reach behind the toilet and turn the water supply off.

Once you stop the toilet overflowing, you can move on to unclogging the toilet. You may not need them, but it’s probably a good idea to have some rags handy in case some water spills out in your attempts to unclog your toilet, especially if you decide to use some of the tools recommended below. Note, in most cases you will want to call a plumber if your tub and toilet won’t drain.

How to Unclog a Toilet 7 Different Ways

The Old Stand By – The Plunger

Every household should have a toilet brush for cleaning and a toilet plunger to handle toilet clogs. Why? Because a plunger is the best way to unclog a toilet, it’s a universal toilet clog remover – or a universal toilet unclogger tool. It’s your answer if you’re looking for how to unclog a toilet fast or how to remove a blocked toilet. It’s simply the fastest way to unclog a toilet and remove a toilet blockage. A house without a plunger is a house that should have had one if there is a clogged toilet. Everyone should know how to plunge a toilet.

Believe it or not, there are many different types of plungers. While flat plungers are fine for flat surfaces around shower or sink drains, a plunger with a flange is better designed to unclog toilets.

There is an art to effective toilet plunging. To achieve best results for a blocked toilet, follow these steps for your toilet clog solution:

Put the plunger in the toilet bowl and push down gently until you achieve a good seal. The first push is to get rid of the air. If you push too forcefully, you could splash dirty water upon yourself.
Now that you have a good seal, pump the plunger up and down with some force, but make sure you maintain the seal.
Finally, pull the plunger up to break the air seal. The water should rush down the drain.
If this has not fixed the clog, repeat these steps until the clogged has loosened.

Once you’ve unclogged your toilet, put the plunger someplace where you can easily find it again. Because there’s always next time and the plunger is simply the best toilet clog remover in most cases!

Unclogging a toilet - Baking Soda and vinegar

No Tools Required – Baking Soda and Vinegar

Here’s a home remedy for slow draining toilet and clearing a toilet clog. If you don’t have a plunger handy when you have a toilet not draining, turn to the trusted non-toxic household helper for a homemade toilet unclogger: baking soda and vinegar for a clogged toilet remedy. This is a much better alternative to chemical drain cleaners. You might know that baking soda and vinegar are fantastic for a variety of uses, including cleaning many surfaces, acting as an excellent deodorizer and keeping drains running smoothly. Baking soda and vinegar are equally great to fix a clogged toilet without a plunger following these simple steps:

  1. Add one cup of baking soda to the clogged toilet. 
  2. Wait two minutes.
  3. Slowly pour two cups of vinegar into the toilet. Baking soda and vinegar react to cause bubbles, so be sure to pour slowly and carefully so that the toilet water does not splash or overflow. 
  4. Allow the vinegar and baking soda mixture to work for several minutes. 
  5. Flush the toilet to see if the clog has cleared.

If this doesn’t work, consider buying a plunger or following the recommendations below.

You may have heard people recommend pouring epsom salt in the toilet. Why put salt in toilet? It works under a similar mechanism as baking soda and vinegar – by creating fizz to help unclog drains, but in our opinion not as effective.

how to fix clogged toilet - snake

Nothing to be afraid of – The Plumbing Snake

Like a plunger, plumbing snakes (similar to a toilet auger) are handy tools for any homeowner and a much better alternative to a wire coat hanger for drain cleaning. It’s best to avoid using a wire hanger by the way. Regular plumbing snakes can scratch or damage porcelain toilets, so make sure to use a special toilet or closet snake, also called an auger. This special plumbing snake has a rubber coating that won’t scratch surfaces and protects the toilet’s porcelain.

To properly snake a toilet:

  1. Place the head of the augur in the toilet bowl.
  2. Slowly turn the handle of the augur clockwise.
  3. When you feel resistance, wind the snake back.
  4. Flush the toilet to see If the clog has loosened.
  5. If the toilet is still clogged, wind the snake back in and repeat until the clog is broken up and the toilet flushes easily.

Again, store the augur where you can get it easily, as just because you’ve unclogged a toilet once, doesn’t mean it won’t happen again.

how to unclog toilet - hot water

Heat it Up – Dish Soap and Hot Water

Don’t have a plunger or snake? Out of baking soda and vinegar? Ok, here’s something you’re bound to have handy: dish soap and water. The hot water trick.

  1. Put one gallon of hot water on the stove to heat up.
  2. While the water is heating up, squirt some dish soap into the toilet (start with about a half cup).
  3. When the water is very hot, but not boiling, carefully pour it into the toilet. Just to restate, hot but NOT boiling water!
  4. Wait several minutes while the hot water and dish soap soften the clog.
  5. The toilet should now be unclogged and flushing freely.

Helpful Hint: You can also try to use shampoo and hot water from the sink if you want to try to clear the toilet without leaving the bathroom.

how to unclog a toilet with a plunger - Wet-Dry_Vac

Not for the Faint of Heart – Wet/Dry Vacuum.

Toilet stopped up, plunger not working? This is a truly unique method for fixing a clogged toilet. It’s a messy toilet clog removal solution though. Caution: Consider only if you have wet/dry vacuum. Do not try this method with a regular household vacuum. You risk ruining the vacuum and, more importantly, the possibility of shocking yourself while trying to remove the toilet blocking particle(s).

  1. Wear plastic gloves or rubber gloves because you need to hold the wet/dry vacuum hose inside the toilet. If the bowl is not empty, vacuum the water out. 
  2. Place the wet/dry vacuum hose in the toilet drain slowly and wrap an old towel around the hose to create suction. 
  3. Turn the wet/dry vacuum on, firmly holding the towel and hose in place. The wet/dry vacuum should create enough suction to pull the obstruction and toilet paper out. Thoroughly clean and sanitize the vacuum afterward.

how to unclog a toilet - BioBen

Science to the Rescue – Drain Cleaners (Bio Ben)

While chemical drain cleaners and clogged toilet chemicals like Eco Punch, Drano Max Gel, Draino For Toilet and most things called liquid plumber for toilets and liquid toilet unclogger, are not recommended because they can damage plumbing and create chemical burn hazards, we do recommend you try an enzyme or bio cleaner, like BioBen (the enzymes are what breaks down poop in toilet, soap scum and mineral buildup). This product is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as safe for the environment to fix your slow draining toilet, unlike most chemical drain cleaners.

  1. Pour the measured amount of BioBen down the toilet.
  2. Wait for BioBen to clear the toilet clog.
  3. Flush the toilet.

BioBen claims it can continue to work in most pipes to keep flowing free of clogs for up to a month.

Water Heater-Plumber

When DIY Fails – Call a Plumber

If none of these methods works to unclog your toilet, if you don’t have the necessary tools to properly unclog your toilet, or your toilet keeps clogging, it’s time to call in a professional plumber that will know how to unstop a commode or fix stubborn sink clogs and sewer line issues. A plumber is also your best option if you have a toilet or bathroom sink that frequently clogs—that means you’ve got a serious problem somewhere deeper in your pipes in need of sewer service and left wondering why does my toilet keep clogging.

You can count on Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for quality work on your plumbing job to effectively unclog your toilets and drains for clogged toilet repair, a toilet draining slowly, or a slow flushing toilet. We take to heart the words of our namesake, Benjamin Franklin, who famously said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” We’ve built our company around bringing a higher level of excellence to every customer experience. Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and our licensed plumbers proudly offer an on-time guarantee and a 100 percent customer satisfaction guarantee to meet all your plumbing service needs. Because we’re locally owned and operated, our plumbers are familiar with the plumbing challenges you face. If there’s any delay in providing your service, we pay!

And, by the way, there are other plumbing problems that can occur with your toilet besides an occasional clog. Toilets rely on the interaction of numerous parts to function properly. If a toilet isn’t flushing properly, it could be a problem with its plumbing or with the parts that make it work like the fill valve. Sometimes a toilet will function even though it has malfunctioning components. Even though it’s tempting to ignore, a toilet’s parts should be replaced once they start to break. If left ignored, they could fail. Even if they don’t completely break, malfunctioning toilet parts waste water and increase your bills.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing answers your service calls 24 hours a day for all plumbing needs at 800-259-7705. Or request an appointment online.