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How to Unclog a Toilet When Plunger Doesn’t Work

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An image showcasing a person wearing rubber gloves, using a toilet auger with a rotating handle to unclog a toilet

Having a clogged toilet can be incredibly frustrating, especially when the trusty plunger just isn’t doing the job. But don’t panic! You don’t need to call a plumber just yet.

In this article, we’ll show you exactly how to unclog a toilet when the plunger doesn’t work. We’ll provide you with step-by-step instructions, using simple tools and materials you probably already have at home.

So, put on your gloves and get ready to tackle that stubborn clog head-on!

Key Takeaways

  • Flushing too much toilet paper at once, flushing feminine hygiene products, excessive use of toilet wipes, and attempting to flush cotton balls or paper towels are common causes of toilet clogs.
  • DIY unclogging methods include using a toilet auger or snake, a homemade mixture of hot water and dish soap, a wet/dry vacuum, and trying alternative methods before calling a plumber.
  • Assessing the severity of the clog can be done by observing the water level in the toilet bowl, slow or no drainage, and gurgling sounds which may indicate a blockage further down the drain.
  • Tools and materials needed for unclogging a toilet include a toilet auger or snake, hot water and dish soap, gloves for protection, a pot for heating water, and proper tools for DIY unclogging methods.

Common Causes of Toilet Clogs

One of the most common causes of toilet clogs is flushing too much toilet paper down at once. While it’s tempting to just keep flushing and hope the problem goes away, it’s important to understand the causes of clogs to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Other common causes include flushing feminine hygiene products, excessive use of toilet wipes, and attempting to flush items like cotton balls or paper towels. These objects can easily get stuck in the pipes and cause a blockage.

If you find yourself facing a clogged toilet, don’t panic. There are DIY unclogging methods you can try before calling a plumber. These include using a toilet auger or snake, using a homemade mixture of hot water and dish soap, or using a wet/dry vacuum to remove the clog.

Assessing the Severity of the Clog

If you’ve tried a plunger but it hasn’t worked, you can assess the severity of the clog by observing the water level in the toilet bowl. This will give you an idea of how much water is being blocked and how serious the clog is.

To better understand the situation, consider the following:

  • Water level: If the water level is high and close to overflowing, it indicates a severe blockage that requires immediate attention.

  • Drainage speed: If the water drains slowly or not at all, it suggests a significant obstruction in the pipes.

  • Gurgling sounds: If you hear gurgling sounds when you flush, it could mean that the blockage is further down the drain.

By assessing the severity of the clog and identifying the blockage, you can determine the best course of action to unclog your toilet.

Now, let’s move on to the next section and discuss the tools and materials you’ll need.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

To properly tackle the clog, you’ll need a few tools and materials.

When unclogging a toilet without a plunger, there are alternative methods that can be effective. One option is using a toilet auger, also known as a plumber’s snake. This tool consists of a long, flexible cable with a handle on one end and a coiled metal end on the other. By inserting the coiled end into the toilet, you can maneuver it through the pipe to break up the clog.

Another method is using a mixture of hot water and dish soap. Simply pour a generous amount of dish soap into the toilet bowl, followed by hot water. Let it sit for a few minutes, then flush. The soap and hot water can help dissolve the clog.

With these tools and methods, you’ll be able to unclog your toilet without a plunger.

Alternative Methods to Unclog a Toilet

Using a toilet auger or a mixture of hot water and dish soap can be effective methods for dealing with a clogged toilet. When a plunger doesn’t work, these alternative methods can save you from calling a plumber. Here’s how you can use them:

Toilet Auger:

  • Insert the auger into the toilet bowl, pushing it gently until you feel resistance.
  • Rotate the handle clockwise to break up the clog.
  • Continue pushing and rotating until the clog is cleared.

Hot Water and Dish Soap:

  • Boil a pot of water and let it cool slightly.
  • Add a few squirts of dish soap to the toilet bowl.
  • Carefully pour the hot water into the bowl from waist height.
  • Let it sit for a few minutes before attempting to flush.

Steps to Unclog a Toilet Using Hot Water

When a plunger fails to clear a clog, using hot water and dish soap can be an effective alternative method for unclogging a toilet.

Start by heating a pot of water on the stove until it reaches a boiling point. Carefully pour the boiling water into the toilet bowl, aiming for the center of the clog. The hot water will help break down the blockage, allowing it to flush away.

Additionally, you can add a small amount of dish soap to the water before pouring it in. The soap acts as a lubricant, making it easier for the clog to slide through the pipes.

If the clog persists, another option is to use a toilet auger. Insert the auger into the toilet drain and twist the handle, breaking up the obstruction.

Remember to use caution and consult a professional if you are unsure or the problem persists.

Using a Plumbing Snake to Clear the Blockage

If you’re dealing with a stubborn clog that just won’t budge, using a plumbing snake can be a game-changer.

The benefits of using a plumbing snake include its ability to reach deep into the pipes, effectively breaking up and removing the blockage.

To properly use a plumbing snake, start by inserting it into the drain and slowly turning the handle clockwise while applying gentle pressure.

However, it’s important to take safety precautions when snaking, such as wearing gloves and eye protection, to prevent any potential injury or damage.

Benefits of Plumbing Snake

To tackle the clog effectively, you’ll want to consider the benefits of using a plumbing snake. Here are the advantages and the effectiveness of using a plumbing snake:


  • Versatile tool that can be used for various clogs in toilets, sinks, and drains.
  • Cost-effective solution compared to hiring a professional plumber.


  • The long, flexible metal coil of the plumbing snake can reach deep into the pipes, ensuring that the blockage is completely cleared.
  • The rotating motion of the snake helps to break up and dislodge stubborn clogs, allowing water to flow freely again.

Using a plumbing snake provides several advantages and is an effective method for clearing clogs. However, it is important to know the proper technique for using the snake to avoid causing further damage to your plumbing system.

Proper Technique for Snake

To ensure proper technique when using a plumbing snake, remember to start by feeding the snake slowly into the drain while turning the handle clockwise. This allows the snake to navigate through the pipes smoothly and effectively. As you continue to feed the snake, keep a firm grip on the handle to maintain control. Once the snake reaches the clog, apply gentle pressure and begin to turn the handle counterclockwise. This action helps the snake break up the blockage and clear the drain. If you encounter resistance, do not force the snake as it may damage the pipes. Instead, try pulling it back slightly and then feeding it forward again. This back-and-forth motion can help dislodge stubborn clogs. Remember to clean and sanitize the snake after use to prevent any contamination.

Troubleshooting Tips
Slowly feed the snake into the drain Turn the handle clockwise Apply gentle pressure on the clog
Turn the handle counterclockwise Do not force the snake Clean and sanitize the snake after use

Safety Precautions When Snaking

For your safety, always wear protective gloves and eyewear when snaking a drain. Snaking equipment can be sharp and the chemicals used can be hazardous to your skin and eyes.

Here are some safety precautions to keep in mind:

  • Use a sturdy pair of gloves made of rubber or latex to protect your hands from any sharp edges or chemicals.
  • Wear safety goggles or glasses to shield your eyes from any splashes or debris that may fly out during the snaking process.

By following these safety precautions, you can protect yourself from any potential injuries or accidents that may occur while snaking a drain.

Now that you know how to stay safe, let’s move on to preventing future toilet clogs.

Preventing Future Toilet Clogs

Make sure you avoid flushing excessive amounts of toilet paper to prevent future clogs. Proper toilet maintenance is essential in keeping your toilet functioning properly and avoiding costly repairs. Take a look at the table below for some quick tips on how to prevent toilet clogs:

Tip Description Benefits
1 Use less toilet paper Reduces the risk of clogs
2 Don’t flush non-flushable items Prevents blockages in the pipes
3 Perform regular maintenance Ensures optimal toilet performance


In conclusion, when faced with a stubborn toilet clog that the plunger just can’t handle, don’t fret! You have a few alternative methods at your disposal.

Whether it’s using hot water to break up the blockage or employing a plumbing snake to clear the path, there are solutions to unclog your toilet.

Remember, prevention is key, so be mindful of what you flush down the toilet to avoid future mishaps.

Don’t throw in the towel just yet, tackle that clog head-on and you’ll be back to smooth sailing in no time!