Skip to main content

How to unclog a toilet without a plunger (yes, it’s possible)

Get your bathroom functional again, even when you don't have the go-to tools

water in toilet bowl
Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Keeping your bathroom sparkling clean and functional is a top priority, and when the toilet gets clogged, it can induce panic — especially if you’re not equipped with the standard tools. Unblocking a toilet without a plunger may sound like a daunting task, but it’s entirely possible with a few household items and some know-how.

Whether you’ve just moved into a new home without a plunger or find yourself in an emergency situation, this guide will walk you through several effective methods for how to unclog a toilet without a plunger.

Recommended Videos

1. Force flush method

Person pressing down on a toilet flush handle
Jo Panuwat D / Shutterstock

The force flush method is a straightforward approach that involves using hot water to dislodge a clog. This method works best for soft clogs that aren’t deeply lodged in the pipes. It’s less effective for severe blockages or those caused by large, inorganic objects.

How to do it

  1. Heat water: Boil a large pot of water and allow it to cool slightly. The water should be hot but not boiling, as boiling water can crack porcelain.
  2. Pour carefully: Stand over the toilet bowl and pour the hot water in from waist height. The height helps add force to the water.
  3. Wait and observe: Allow the hot water to sit for a few minutes. The heat should help break down the clog.
  4. Flush: Flush the toilet. If the water drains, the clog is cleared. If not, repeat the process or try another method.

2. Hot water + dish soap method

Dish soap bubbles
Mario Letschert / Pixabay

Combining hot water with dish soap can effectively break down stubborn clogs. The soap lubricates the pipes and helps dislodge the blockage. This method is suitable for soft clogs, particularly those caused by organic matter or excessive toilet paper.

How to do it

  1. Add dish soap: Pour about half a cup of dish soap into the toilet bowl. Allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Heat water: Boil a pot of water and let it cool slightly.
  3. Pour hot water: Pour the hot water into the toilet bowl from waist height, similar to the force flush method.
  4. Wait and flush: Allow the mixture to sit for another 15 minutes. The soap should break down the clog. Flush the toilet to see if the blockage has cleared.

3. Baking soda and vinegar method

Baking soda and vinegar in glass jars
focal point / Shutterstock

The chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar is often used in cleaning, clearing shower drains, and other household tasks. It can also effectively break down clogs in toilets. This method is particularly useful for organic clogs and those caused by mineral buildup. It works best for minor to moderate clogs that aren’t caused by large, solid objects.

How to do it

  1. Add baking soda: Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl.
  2. Add vinegar: Slowly pour 2 cups of vinegar into the bowl. The mixture will fizz and bubble.
  3. Wait: Allow the chemical reaction to work for about 30 minutes.
  4. Flush: Flush the toilet to see if the clog has been dislodged. If not, you may need to repeat the process.

4. Wire hanger method

wire hangers on a closet rod
by Lane V. Erickson / Shutterstock

A wire hanger can be transformed into a makeshift snake to break up clogs. This method is particularly effective for removing solid objects stuck in the toilet. Use this method for clogs caused by objects like toys, sanitary products, or large amounts of toilet paper that are near the opening of the toilet trap.

How to do it

  1. Prepare the hanger: Straighten a wire hanger and create a small hook at one end.
  2. Insert the hanger: Carefully insert the hooked end into the toilet bowl and gently push it through the clog.
  3. Twist and pull: Twist the hanger to break up the clog and pull it back to remove the blockage.
  4. Flush: Once the clog is broken up, flush the toilet to clear any remaining debris.

5. Wet/dry vacuum method

Toilet and sink
Pixabay / Pexels

A wet/dry vacuum is one of the best vacuums to buy for your home. It’s a powerful tool for removing stubborn clogs since it sucks out the blockage. This method is best for severe clogs caused by large or hard objects that are difficult to dislodge with other methods.

How to do it

  1. Prepare the vacuum: Set your wet/dry vacuum to the liquid setting. Ensure you’re using a waterproof attachment.
  2. Seal the toilet: Place the vacuum hose into the toilet bowl, creating as tight a seal as possible around the hose with a towel or rag.
  3. Suck out the clog: Turn on the vacuum and let it run for a few minutes to suck out the clog.
  4. Check and flush: Once the vacuum has removed the clog, flush the toilet to ensure the blockage is cleared.

Can a toilet unclog itself without a plunger?

Bathroom with sink and toilet
Filios Sazeides f / Unsplash

In some cases, a toilet can unclog itself without any intervention. This typically happens with minor clogs that are not tightly packed and can break down over time. However, relying on this method is risky, since leaving a clog too long can cause some problems.

What happens if you leave a toilet clogged for too long?

Water stain on the ceiling
Akintevs / Shutterstock

Leaving a toilet clogged for an extended period can lead to several issues:

  • Overflow: Continued use can cause the toilet to overflow, leading to water damage and potential sanitation issues.
  • Pipe damage: Persistent clogs can put pressure on the pipes, potentially leading to leaks or bursts.
  • Health hazards: Stagnant water in the toilet bowl can become a breeding ground for bacteria and other pathogens.

Tips for preventing toilet clogs

Wicker basket holding toilet paper
Vlada Karpovich / Pexels

Preventing toilet clogs is certainly easier than dealing with them. Here are some tips to keep your toilet in good working order:

  • Be mindful of how much toilet paper you use, and opt for flushable wipes if needed.
  • Do not flush items like feminine products, diapers, paper towels, or non-flushable baby wipes.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain your toilet to ensure it’s functioning properly.
  • Educate household members, especially children, on proper toilet use to avoid accidental clogs.

Unclogging a toilet without a plunger seems unheard of, but it is entirely possible with the right techniques and household items. By understanding these methods and knowing when to use them, you can confidently tackle any toilet clog situation that comes your way. Remember to take preventative measures to avoid future clogs and maintain a smoothly running household.

Editors' Recommendations

Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
This incredible app helps you find furniture that looks like it’s from premium brands – for a fraction of the cost
Trying to save money on furniture in your next redesign? This app can help you find name-brand lookalikes
Living room with multiple types of lighting

When searching for new and affordable furniture to spruce up your interior, it can be frustrating to find the right items for your design. Of course, you want quality pieces that look stunning, but sometimes the name brand isn’t always best for you or your situation. While luxury and name brands often have what seem to be the perfect items, the prices aren’t always suitable for your home furnishing budget. That’s why apps like Craftle have come to your aid.

Craftle is a unique app that may be a game changer in your next redesign. If you’re looking for ways to save money while still creating a luxe look in your space, then this could be just what you need.
What is Craftle?
Craftle is an app that works to find similar or lookalike products for a fraction of the price of the original name-brand item. For example, if you love a West Elm sofa but don’t love the high price tag, Craftle’s lookalike finder can search for a similar sofa design for a cheaper price. If you’re looking to save money in your next redesign or are working with a limited budget, Craftle’s lookalike search finder could save you hundreds.

Read more
The house maintenance tasks homeowners think first-time buyers should know
A few considerations when buying your first home
try these 11 bathroom diys you can do in one hour plumber

Buying a home for the first time isn't for the faint of heart. There are so many decisions you need to make and so many considerations to keep in mind before you sign on the dotted line. The biggest worry (beyond the biggest financial investment you're making) is what you don't know, especially regarding house maintenance. Luckily, we have the expertise of those who have come before us.

Redditor theforeverletter recently posed this question on the r/Home Improvement subreddit: "Homeowners who have been doing this for [a while], what regular maintenance do people need to do to their house they don’t know they should be doing? For those of you who know far more than me, I bought a house last year; what things do I/other first-time homeowners need to do to keep up with everything we may not know? Of course, this depends on the house (Septic/city water crawl space/no crawl space) and things can vary, but happy to learn as much as I can!" Hundreds of people were happy to share their advice, and we've taken some of the most popular, so you know what to look out for.

Read more
Moving out? Get your security deposit back quickly with these simple tips
These tips for renters will help you save money
Couple packing moving boxes together

Moving out of an apartment is already a hectic event. But when you’re trying to get your security deposit back from your landlord, that stress only grows. After all, that’s a large chunk of change you’re owed—and one that would be much better off in your savings account or going toward decking out your new place. Whether your landlord has been slow to return your deposit or you’re just anxious to get your money back, here are a few tips for renters to get your security deposit back in full without a fuss.

Review your lease
When you decide to move out, one of the first things you should do is re-read your lease. This document lays out all the terms and conditions for ending your lease, giving your landlord notice about your move, and getting your deposit back. Oftentimes, your lease will also let you know how many days your landlord has to return the security deposit (usually 30-60 days after move-out) and any other move-out requirements. You may be required to return your keys, clean the property, and revert any alterations you made to their original condition before your deposit is returned.
Give your landlord proper notice
Giving proper notice before moving out is crucial to getting your full security deposit back. If you don’t give enough notice, you may be required to pay an extra month’s rent—even if you’re not living there. Not only will you have to give your landlord more money, but you may also have to wait longer to get your deposit back.

Read more