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How to Unclog a Toilet (and Stop It from Backing Up Again)

Water circling a toilet blow

Reading time: 4 minutes

November 17th is World Toilet Day, which celebrates one of the most necessary modern marvels and brings awareness of the 4.2 billion people around the world who live without safely managed sanitation. Learn more about World Toilet Day and how you can help on the United Nations' official page!

If you're fortunate to live with a properly functioning toilet, then you know the issues that a clogged one can cause. That's why here at vipHomeLink, we wanted to help keep your toilets flowing, so you don't find yourself in a hazardous situation. Here are quick and easy ways to unclog your toilet! 

How to unclog a toilet without a plunger 

Sometimes, you need to get down and get dirty, but sometimes, you can unclog your toilet with everyday household products!

How to unclog a toilet with warm water and dish soap

Warm some water to get things flowing.

Dump a generous amount of dish soap into the bowl, followed by a chaser of warm water. (Warm a half of gallon of water but don't let it boil! If the water gets too hot, it can crack the porcelain.)

Let the soap and warm water mix sit for about 30 minutes. This will allow the dish soap to coat the blockage and the warm water to soften it. Flush and voila! Blockage gone. 

How to unclog a toilet with baking soda and vinegar

Let the bubbles do the work.

Don't have dish soap on hand? Warm a half gallon of water and drop it from waist height. Follow quickly with a mixture of 1 cup baking soda and 2 cups vinegar. If you have the time (and a second toilet), leave the mixture overnight to soak and clear the clog.

How to unclog a toilet with a hanger

If there's no plunger in sight, grab a wire hanger and attach a small, wet rag to top, so as not to scratch the toilet bowl. (This device will act as a makeshift plumbing snake.) Work the hanger around the toilet as best you can until you feel the blockage release. Just be careful not to lose the rag and create a bigger problem.

How to plunge a toilet

Time to clear the clog!

Now it's time to get down and dirty. First, grab the tools of the trade – a pair of rubber gloves, paper towels or some old towels you won't mind throwing away, and of course, a cup plunger.

  1. Lay the towels around the bowl just in case it starts to overflow. Not only is toilet water not the cleanest, but it also can cause expensive water damage if it gets under your tiles or into your drywall.
  2. Close the flap inside the tank.
  3. Run the plunger under hot water to help loosen the rubber, and then insert the plunger into the bowl.
  4. Start slowly as the first plunges need to form a seal around the bowl with the rubber end.
  5. Plunge rigorously for 20 seconds. If the bowl drains and is still not flushing properly, then the clog is still present.
  6. Fill the bowl to its normal water level and plunge again.
  7. Don't give up. Some things take time and commitment. Keep at it! 

How to unclog a toilet when nothing works

Coat the clog in soap!

Content Writer Susie can attest to this method.

Start by loading a generous amount of dish soap into your clogged toilet. Then warm a half gallon of water and drop it from waist height into the bowl. Wait about 10 to 20 minutes, so the dish soap and water can do their magic. Then plunge.

Again, this may take time, so take the opportunity to work those arms. Plunge vigorously for 20 seconds, wait 10 seconds, and then start again. Eventually, the blockage should release, and your toilet will once more be flowing.

If the toilet gods are not on your side, then you might need to take the toilet off to see if the issue is in your toilet or your pipes. At this point, it's best to call a professional plumber to handle the issue.

How to prevent your toilet from clogging

Are you stuffing your toilet with paper?

While it's inevitable that one day your toilet will clog (if you're here, then you've probably just cleared a clog), here are a few quick tips to prevent a blockage from happening in the first place.

  • Keep non-flushable items out of your toilet. This includes baby wipes, diapers, grease, paper towels, menstrual wipes, and Q-Tips.
  • Don't flush "flushable" wipes. "Flushable" just means those wipes will flow through your toilet, not necessarily your home's pipes, and there are a number of reasons why flushing these wipes is just a bad idea.
  • Excess toilet paper can even cause a clog, so try multiple flushes if need be. (This is also called a courtesy flush!)
  • Use a toilet lock or keep the cover down to stop young hands from throwing their favorite items into the bowl.
  • If your toilet keeps clogging, then your plumber vent (in your roof!) may be clogged. Call a plumber to inspect and clean the area.
  • Get a yearly plumbing inspection. A professional plumber can help you identify problems in your toilet before they back up. 

Stay on top of home maintenance 

vipHomeLink can help!

Here at vipHomeLink, we know how difficult it is to know what to do and when to do it around the home. That's why we help to simplify homeownership through our home management app, which provides homeowners with personalized reminders for home tasks. From bat proofing your home to vacuuming your dryer vent, we've got you covered.

Save money and time, and gain peace of mind with vipHomeLink! Download the app today from Google Play or the App Store.

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