What's the Best Way to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger?

Oh no, what a nightmare -- you’ve clogged the toilet, and you don’t have a plunger! You knew you should have stopped off at the hardware store and bought one when you had the chance. Now you’re staring at a clogged pipe and a bowl of dirty water -- and there’s nothing you can do about it.


Or is there? Don’t run out to buy a plunger just yet. You’re not the first person to face this situation, and you won’t be the last -- and, luckily for all concerned, those brave souls who blazed the trail before you developed several strategies for just this situation. Here’s how to unclog a toilet with supplies you likely already have. 


Try the Hot Water and Soap Trick

This might be the best way to unclog a toilet without a plunger, and all it takes is some liquid soap and a small amount of hot water. Use a pan, small bucket, or plastic wastebasket, and fill it with hot water from the tap. Boiling the water isn’t necessary, and in fact, it’s unadvisable, because boiling water can crack your toilet’s porcelain and leave you with much bigger problems than a clog. Plus, you could burn yourself. Just open the hot water tap and let it warm up as hot as it gets -- that should be hot enough.

You’ll also need somewhere between a couple tablespoons and half a cup of liquid soap -- dish soap, hand soap, shampoo, Dr. Bronner’s -- it really doesn’t matter. You also can’t really use too much soap, so don’t be shy.

You can mix the soap into the hot water, or you can dump it into the bowl and pour the hot water on top of it. Pour the hot water carefully from about waist height. This probably goes without saying, but don’t pour so much that your toilet bowl overflows. 

The hot water will help to break up the clog, and the soap should lubricate the plumbing so that the material slides down more easily. Once you’ve added the hot water and soap to your toilet bowl, wait a few minutes to see if the water starts to drain. If it does, add more hot water to fill up the bowl. The added weight of water in the bowl should further encourage the clog to continue its journey.

If the clog is severe, the water might not start draining right away, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Let it sit for about 30 minutes and then come back and check on it. You might find that your toilet is now in working order again. 

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Start a Chemical Reaction

Maybe you’re running low on liquid soap and don’t want to throw any into your toilet bowl. Maybe you tried the soap thing and it still hasn’t worked. Try putting one cup of vinegar and one cup of baking soda down your toilet drain. Give it about half an hour to work its fizzy, bubbly magic, and then follow up with some hot water. Repeat the process if the clog remains after another half hour. 

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Make Your Own Toilet Snake

So you’ve tried vinegar and baking soda, you’ve tried soap and hot water, but that clog just isn’t budging. Or maybe your toilet bowl is so full already that you can’t add more liquid, and you don’t even have a shop vac to empty it out a little. Now you’ll need to force the matter by making your own toilet snake.

Of course, if you already have a toilet snake, go ahead and use it. But you can make your own plumbing snake by unbending a wire clothes hanger until it’s straight -- although you’ll want to leave the hook on the end, so you don’t scratch up your plumbing. Wrap an old rag around the hooked end to further protect your porcelain from scratches. 

Put on a pair of rubber gloves, and then gently feed the wire hanger into your toilet pipe until you find the clog. Poke at it until the water starts to drain. At this point, you can flush the toilet a few times to clear out the rest of the debris. 

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DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Please be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions and ensure your project complies with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations. 

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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