How to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger

By: Talon Homer  | 
unclog toilet
Is your toilet clogged? You can clear a clogged toilet even without a plunger. Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Key Takeaways

  • Unclogging a toilet without a plunger involves creative solutions like using soap and hot water, water bottle pressure, a hanger snake or a ShopVac suction method.
  • The soap solution method dissolves clogs with the lubricating action of the cleansing agent and the pressure of hot water. The water bottle method uses the force of water to push the clog through, while a hanger snake can physically break up the blockage.
  • The ShopVac technique, albeit less common, applies vacuum power to pull the clog out.

It's a horrible situation to be faced with — your toilet is clogged, but you have no plunger handy. Perhaps you do have one, but the clog refuses to budge under normal means. Either way, there are a few alternative methods that can be just as good, or even better than a plunger. Some of them involve simple home ingredients you probably have on hand, while others will take specialized plumbing tools or chemicals to eliminate the most stubborn clog in your clogged toilet.

Toilets get clogged when foreign objects, like clumps of tissue or toilet paper, get wedged in the U-bend, causing a blockage and a clogged toilet. Materials that the pipes aren't designed to handle, like thick hair, cloth and oil will make a clogged toilet worse. So the first line in toilet maintenance should be to avoid flushing anything that is likely to get stuck. But, even with precautions, clogs may still form over time, and these simple home remedies may be able to clear a clogged toilet without the need to call a plumber.



Method 1: Use a Soap Solution to Clear a Clogged Toilet

  1. Fill a bucket with hot water.
  2. Squirt generous amounts of dishwashing liquid, liquid soap or shampoo into the toilet. You can also chop a bar of soap into small pieces and place it in the toilet, or mix a solution of 1 cup baking soda and 2 cups vinegar
  3. Carefully pour the hot water into the toilet to dissolve the liquid, bar soap or baking soda. The soap or baking soda and vinegar combination should quickly begin to unclog the clogged toilet drain by helping the clogged object start sliding down the pipes.
  4. Repeat the process, if necessary. When the water in the toilet goes down, the toilet clog has been dislodged.
  5. Flush the toilet a few times after it's unclogged to remove any residue.
unclog toilet
You can use dish soap and a bucket of hot water to unclog your clogged toilet.
Emil Timplaru/Shutterstock

If the toilet clog doesn't go away, you may want to consider repeating the process with a stronger product, like bleach. Chemical drain cleaners should be avoided, or only used as a last resort. The ingredients in these products, such as sulfuric acid, do well to dissolve toilet clogs, but they can corrode the inside of pipes along with it, and cause larger issues down the line. Chemical drain cleaners also present a danger if inhaled or allowed contact with skin.

Enzyme drain cleaners are a safer alternative, as they use natural bacteria to eat away at waste materials. However, this is a lengthy process, and these products don't really have the brute force needed to clear your clogged toilet out fast.



Method 2: Use Water Bottle Pressure to Clear a Clogged Toilet

  1. Remove as much water from the toilet as possible while wearing rubber gloves. You can do this by repeatedly filling a small container and pouring the water out into a bucket.
  2. Fill a large plastic bottle with warm water. Keeping your thumb over the top, fit the top of the bottle into the outlet at the bottom of the toilet.
  3. Remove your thumb and hold the bottle tightly with both hands. Squeeze the bottle so the water shoots out into the toilet drain. The pressure should dislodge the clog. It's a good idea to wear a mask and eye protection while doing this, in case the water splashes.
  4. Pour hot water into the toilet; if the water level goes down, the clog has cleared.
  5. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 if necessary.
  6. Carefully pour about 3 quarts (2.84 liters) of boiled water into the toilet to clean out the residue. Let the water sit for about 15 to 20 minutes, until it cools down. Now you're ready to flush the toilet.


Method 3: Use a Hanger Snake to Clear a Clogged Toilet

  1. Take an old wire clothes hanger and straighten out the bottom end, while keeping the hook end intact.
  2. Wrap an old rag around the hook to protect against any scratches to the porcelain.
  3. Slowly push the wire deep into the pipe in order to force out the clog. You’ll want to wear rubber gloves for this.
unclog toilet
You can straighten a wire coat hanger and use it to snake the clogged toilet.


Method 4: Use ShopVac Suction to Clear a Clogged Toilet

If you have a wet/dry vacuum (ShopVac) handy, it can be used as a powerful declogger to clear a clogged toilet in a pinch.

  1. Remove any bags from the vacuum before dealing with liquids and wet material.
  2. Attach a hose and small diameter cleaning head to the machine. With gloves on, use it to suck excess water out of the toilet.
  3. Push the vacuum hose partway into the drain so that it sits just before the U-bend in the pipe.
  4. Use a rag to fill any gaps along the hose and form a tight seal.
  5. Turn the vacuum on. The offending material will likely come rushing out of the pipe, and into the ShopVac tank.

If all else fails, a plumbing auger, also known as a snake, will likely do the trick. Plumbing snakes are fairly inexpensive, available at most hardware stores, and made to push deep into a pipe to break up any blockage. If a clog won't budge no matter what you try, or if clogs frequently keep coming back, it's likely a sign of a deeper issue. You'll want to consult a professional plumber to figure out the next steps and keep your pipes in good working order.


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent toilet clogs in the future?
Regular maintenance, mindful flushing habits and using a monthly enzyme-based cleaner can prevent future clogs by keeping pipes clear of buildup.
Is it safe to use boiling water in the soap solution method?
While hot water can be effective, boiling water can crack the porcelain. Instead, opt for warm water to assist the soap in lubricating the clog.