5 Ways to Unclog a Toilet Without Using a Plunger

Tips for taking care of, ahem, business. Learn how to clear a clog without a plunger.

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So, the toilet’s clogged again. A plunger is usually the first option when you need to clear the pipes after an unexpected blockage, but what do you do if the plunger isn’t working or isn’t available?

hand flush toilet

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hand flush toilet

Photo by: Getty Images; Witthaya Prasongsin

Getty Images; Witthaya Prasongsin

There are a few easy tricks you can try. None of these ideas involve a traditional plunger, but all are effective at breaking through unexpected clogs:

1. Add Hot Water

Hot water is often the best way to break up a clogged toilet. If the toilet is filled to the brim, you will need to remove some of the water first. Then, pour a gallon of hot water into the bowl and let it sit. Boiling water can risk breaking the porcelain, but an influx of hot water is an effective first step to disintegrate and dislodge the blockage.

Better yet, pour a half cup of liquid dish soap into your toilet before adding the hot water. Soaking the buildup in the toilet with dish soap is not unlike soaking buildup on pots and pans before washing them.

Water bottle clearing a toilet blockage.

Water Bottle Toilet Plunger

A large water bottle can force air through a toilet drain to clear clogs.

A large water bottle can force air through a toilet drain to clear clogs.

2. Force Airflow

Modeled after an actual toilet air blaster with a barometer, use an empty plastic bottle to force air into the pipes. Larger bottles or two-liter soda bottles work well because they hold a larger air capacity and are wide enough to plug the drain hole. Insert the bottle upside down into the drain of the blocked toilet and squeeze firmly and fast. The air will force into the pipes and disrupt the clog.

3. Use Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar have the power to cut through grime for ordinary cleaning and also can tackle clogs that are out of sight.

Measure one cup of baking soda and pour it into the toilet. Then, pour two cups of white vinegar onto the baking soda to create a chemical reaction that fizzes. As it fizzes and circulates in the bowl, you may see the water level drop which indicates that the blockage is clearing.

Tip: Avoid creating your own science fair volcano by ensuring that the toilet bowl is at least half full of water before adding white vinegar.

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Baking soda and vinegar can help clear a clogged toilet.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Baking soda and vinegar can help clear a clogged toilet.

4. Create a Snake

If you don’t already have a flexible snake that can reach into the plumbing, make your own using a wire hanger. Unfold the hanger and extend the end into the drain. Plunging and twisting the metal will agitate anything stuck in its path.

5. Try Store-Bought Cleaners

Most heavy-duty cleaners are suitable for busting through a blocked toilet clog, but be aware that the toilet may need to sit, blocked, for a few hours or overnight. Of course, if you have a septic tank, always be sure to choose septic-safe products.

Popular products you may need to keep on hand include:

Tips on Solving Common Toilet Problems

Learn how to easily fix common toilet problems such as a toilet that runs intermittently, a toilet that flushes slowly and a clogged toilet.

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