There are few moments in life as utterly defeating as realizing you’ve clogged your toilet. Not only is it an inconvenience, it can get downright messy. Getting up close and personal with your toilet is probably the last thing you want to do.
Hopefully, a couple of turns with the plunger is all you’ll need to get things back in working order. But sometimes, the plunger just won’t do the trick. That’s why we’ve gathered a few alternatives you can try in addition to using your plunger to tackle those stubborn clogs.
For every single one of these methods, bring a pair of gloves. Unclogging toilets is a messy business.
Before You Start
Unless you want your bathroom to turn into a hazardous lake of wastewater, the absolute first step to fixing your clogged toilet is to stop the flow of water. Behind the toilet tank there’s a water intake valve. Shut it off. As an alternative, you can always reach into the toilet tank and make sure the flapper valve is tightly closed. Whichever option you go with, make sure it’s the first step you take.
1. Try The Plunger First
We’ll get into some non-plunger options, but the plunger should always be the first thing you try. Plungers are naturally great at unclogging toilets because they create a vacuum that dislodges anything stuck in the drain pipe. So “plunge” the plunger into the toilet and get a good seal over the pipe. Give it a few good pushes and pulls. If it doesn’t work, that okay. We have plenty of other options to try.
2. If You Don’t Have A Plunger, Make One
It’s not every day that you get to make your own plunger, so consider yourself one of the brave few if you get to this step. Remember that plungers work by creating a vacuum, and there are ways to recreate that function with two simple items you probably have around your house: A large water bottle and a pair of scissors.
Take a large (one liter) water bottle and empty its contents. Drink it, water some plants, just don’t waste it. When you’re finished, screw the top back on the bottle. Then grab your favorite pair of scissors and cut off the bottom of the water bottle. Put your gloves on and plunge the bottom of the water bottle into the toilet pipe. Push and pull the makeshift plunger vigorously as many times as you need to. Eventually, it should unclog the toilet.
3. Hot Water And Dish Soap
If the plunger method fails, it’s time to use a few chemical methods that won’t cause any damage to your plumbing. We’ll start with hot water and dish soap. For this method (and the next one), you want to make sure you don’t have a ton of water in the toilet bowl already. Which means you might have to remove some water manually.
Get a few gallons of water into a pot and throw it on the stove. You want hot water — not quite boiling, but hot enough to say, brew some tea. While the water’s heating, squirt some dish soap into the toilet bowl. When the water’s ready, pour it into the bowl. The force of the hot water combined with the dish soap should break loose any buildup in your pipes.
4. Vinegar And Baking Soda
This method is similar to the previous method, except you’ll be using vinegar and baking soda to create a chemical reaction to hopefully break loose some of that debris. Remember the volcanoes you used to make in 4th grade science class?
You’ll need a pot of hot water, a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar. Pour the baking soda into your toilet bowl. Then add the vinegar a little bit at a time to avoid overflow. The mixture should start fizzing and bubbling immediately. Let the baking soda and vinegar combo work its magic for twenty minutes. You should notice the water level in the toilet bowl getting lower and lower. Finally, add the pot of hot water.
5. Use A Drain Snake (Or Make Your Own)
Sometimes, the only way you can get rid of a stubborn clog is to use a solid object to force the obstruction free. If you have a drain snake at home, go ahead and use that. If you don’t have one and don’t feel like going out of your way to get one, you can whip up a DIY drain snake by using an unraveled wire hanger.
Insert the snake or hanger into the pipe as far as you can, moving it from side to side. It should clear the obstruction easily. Note that an actual drain snake will be more effective if the blockage is deep in the pipe, since there’s a P-shaped bend in the pipe that a wire hanger might not be able to pass.
“My Toilet Is Getting Clogged Constantly!”
Every toilet is going to get clogged from time to time, but what if your toilet is always getting blocked up? If you live in an older home, your old pipes might be covered in years and years of buildup. Whether it’s from hard water, mineral buildup, or coarse piping material that allows things to stick, the volume of your pipes gets smaller and smaller over time.
What does that mean? It means that your toilet is sort of a barometer for the overall health of your plumbing network. If you get an unusually high number of clogs, your pipes might be at risk for even more serious problems, like leaks and bursts. Some leaks can go undetected for weeks or even months, damaging your home over time.
If you have an aging pipe network, there’s a way to keep tabs on your plumbing’s health. With the Flo Smart Water Monitor and Shutoff, you can constantly monitor the pressure, flow and temperature of your home’s water system. And you get notified immediately when a leak occurs, from large pipe bursts to tiny drops."