How to Unclog a Toilet

A toilet with a blue ball inside it.
Avoid flushing repeatedly to unclog a toilet; it'll only cause it to overflow. Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

If your toilet is clogged, don't flush it repeatedly. The toilet bowl can't hold much more than a tank full, so it's likely to overflow it you flush it more than once. Rather, try unclogging the toilet by plunging, lubricating or snaking. If the toilet is clogged from too much toilet paper, simply letting the full bowl sit for a few hours will sometimes do the trick. The paper will break down on its own and then you can flush it away [source: NaturalNews].

If the clog source is bigger or more serious, the first thing you should try is plunging the toilet with a funnel-cup plunger.


  1. Cover the drain with the plunger.
  2. Quickly pull the plunger off the drain opening. Repeat this several times, until the clog is pulled out.
  3. Be careful to plunge in a way that will pull out the clog rather than pushing it deeper down.

If the water is draining too slowly, you can try lubricating the drain.

  1. Mix a gallon (3.8 liters) of hot (not boiling) water with a few tablespoons of lubricant, such as dish soap or cooking oil.
  2. Pour mixture into the toilet.
  3. Let it sit for a few hours.
  4. Try flushing [source: NaturalNews].

If you need to "snake" out the toilet, use a closet auger; not a snake. A snake will scratch up your toilet bowl's porcelain, while an auger has a soft, flexible sleeve that will prevent scratching [source: This Old House].

  1. Feed the tip of the auger gently into the opening.
  2. Crank clockwise while pushing down, until you feel resistance.
  3. If the auger gets stuck, crank it counter-clockwise while pulling back. Once it's freed, you can resume cranking clockwise until the auger is as far down as it can go. Its sleeve should be at the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Continue cranking as you pull the handle up.
  5. If the auger jams, push gently and then pull again.
  6. Remove the auger when the blockage is cleared.
  7. Use the plunger on the drain just in case there's still some leftover debris.
  8. Flush to check that the water is draining freely.

If you find yourself without a plunger, check out these two methods for getting it unclogged.