How To Unclog a Toilet When Nothing Works

Comedy movies have been making good use of the clogged toilet skit for many years, but we’re here to tell you that it’s not really a laughing matter. When your toilet is clogged, often, it’s more than a minor defect and can really be costly if you don’t take things into your own hands as soon as possible. Lucky for you, we have a list of actions you could take to fix the problem yourself and receive recognition as the toilet-saver from your family or roommates. 

Handsfree & Household Items

This list of actions is the easy one by far. You will have to make good use of everyday household items to try and unclog your toilet without breaking a sweat.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Forget about plungers, toilet snakes, or any other plumbing-related tools, and say hello to one of the greatest alchemical combinations of all time – baking soda and vinegar. Besides being readily available, these two components will make you feel like the alchemist you used to role play as on D&D nights when you were a kid.

Fun fact trivia – Baking soda and vinegar are great for cleaning practically everything, can be used as ozoners, and you guessed it, can help us unclog our toilets and keep our sewage drains clean and smooth.

To start this method, you would need a cup of baking soda and two cups of white vinegar. Simply pour a cup of baking soda into your clogged toilet, wait a couple of minutes, and slowly add the two cups of white vinegar. The chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar is highly reactive. It results in bubbling and expanding, hence the slow pour. After this, leave the concoction to brew for about 15 minutes and flush the toilet. If your clog is a bit thicker, repeat this action another time. If that didn’t settle it, keep reading the list of solutions.

Dish Soap and Hot Water

This method will require you to find a large pot as you will need to boil at least a gallon or 4 liters of water. While the water comes to a boil, pour a generous amount of dish soap into your toilet. When the water is piping hot, just shy of its boiling point, remove it from the stove and pour it into your toilet. Give it time to work, about 15-20 minutes, and then hit the flush. This should unclog your toilet and make it smell pretty nice. Alternatively, if you don’t have dish soap, you can use hair shampoo. Once again, if this didn’t do it, select another method from the list.

Try Waiting

If the methods so far haven’t worked, try leaving them overnight and see what happens in the morning. The chemical reaction needs time, so waiting it out is also worth a shot. Before going to bed, pour a generous amount of baking soda/vinegar or hot water/dish soap, close the toilet lid and go to bed. When you wake up in the morning, hit the flusher and see what happens. If it didn’t work, select another method.

Use a Drain Cleaner

Chemicals to the rescue! If the methods haven’t worked so far, it’s time to break out the big guns. You can purchase a drain cleaner from almost any market or home improvement store.

Chemical drain cleaners work perfectly to break down solid clogs in your toilet, but they also contain hazardous and abrasive chemical substances that can be harmful to humans, household pets, and in some cases, the drain pipes. The chemical solution should be one of the last resorts in the battle against the clogged toilet.

In cases when your toilet is clogged with a solid obstruction, then jamming it out with a wire rack or a vintage car antenna is your best choice instead of chemicals. Moreover, you should make sure that you use chemical drain cleaners intended for toilet use; otherwise, you risk damaging your toilet and plumbing.

When you’ve purchased your drain cleaner, make sure to read the instructions on the label and stick to them. Pour the recommended amount into your toilet and wait for about 10 minutes for the solution to work. Finally, flush the toilet and see what happens. Additionally, make sure that you open all bathroom windows when handling chemicals to ventilate the room; the smell alone might make your lungs tingle a bit. If the chemical method fails, try an enzyme product.

Enzyme Cleaner Products

Enzyme cleaning products are most commonly used for liquefying organic waste in toilets and are very effective and easy to use. These products are cheap and readily available in home improvement and plumbing stores and are mainly used to clean septic tanks.

Enzyme cleaners are only suitable for cleaning organic waste. If your clog is not organic-related, enzymes won’t be of much use, and you’ll have to select another method.

When you buy your enzyme cleaning product, make sure to read the manufacturer’s label and follow the instructions. Pour the recommended amount of enzyme into your toilet and let it work for a couple of minutes before flushing. If the toilet is back to normal, your clog was organic. If not, then follow up on the hands on methods for unclogging your toilet.

Tools & Hands On

If none of the easy methods worked, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Pick up a pair of rubber gloves and get ready to put your back into it. The simplest approach is by using a plunger, and later we have some items that will bring out your inner MacGyver troubleshooting capabilities. 


The plunger has been around ever since the modern toilet appeared. While it looks simple, it’s still one of the best methods for unclogging a toilet. We recommend that every homeowner own a plunger in case of emergency because of its simplicity and functionality. If you don’t have a plunger, you pick one up from a plumbing store for a few bucks.

Using the tool might require some finesse in the hands of a layman, but after a few plunges, you’ll be plunging like a pro with ease.

To start plunging, simply take the plunger and place it in the toilet bowl while grasping it firmly and gently pushing it down towards the hole. Push slowly! The initial plunger push is to eliminate the air from the toilet, and pushing down too hard might result in splashing yourself in the face.

Once the air has been eliminated and you have a good seal, start pumping the plunger with an up and down motion, and don’t be afraid to use force. Pump for about a couple of minutes and pull the plunger upwards to break the air seal. This should make the water flush down the drain and unclog your toilet. If the toilet is still clogged, repeat the method. Just remember, the first push is gentle, then the others are rough. If you can’t find a plunger at home and don’t have the time to buy one, a worthy mention is using plastic wrap too.

Plastic Wrap

While this method might sound unorthodox, it can really be a lifesaver in emergencies. Plastic wrap can be used to achieve a similar suction action as a plunger to unclog a toilet.

Start off by ensuring that you have water in your toilet bowl. If you’ve emptied out your bowl before, just flush the toilet, and it will fill back up again. What you want to do next is take long sheets of plastic wrap and tightly wrap them around the toilet bowl. Make sure that you leave some plastic wrap to hang on the sides of the toilet and if possible, add multiple layers of the wrap over the toilet.

Once you’ve achieved a good seal with multiple layers of plastic wrap, slowly but firmly press down towards the middle. You may have to release the wrap and push it a few times again to pump the air out. If you see water flushing down the drain, that’s a good sign that your impromptu plunger is doing its job. If the water gets too low, flush the toilet again and keep pumping.

By pumping the air in the toilet bowl, you can generate enough force to push the blockage down to the main sewage area. If your seal was done right, the air in the bowl above the water will be forced down. The water will then be pushed down the drain, thus eliminating the clog.

Toilet Snake

The toilet snake or a plumbing auger is a rubber-wrapped wire that can be used to unclog toilets. They are very cheap to buy and can be found pretty much in any hardware store or plumbing store. Toilet snakes are a great way to unclog your toilet without damaging it due to the rubber coating. Don’t be shy to really use force when handling it.

To use the toilet snake, simply start pushing the tool down the toilet drain until you feel the clog, and then simply work your way by forcing the clog down the drains. You can really put your back into it if the clog doesn’t budge. To check on your progress, flush the toilet and see what happens. If the water doesn’t go down the drain, work it a little harder; if the water flushes down slowly, you need to keep working it. If the water flushes quickly, you’ve got the job done. Simple.

Wire Coat Hanger

The wire coat hanger method works pretty much the same as the toilet snake, except it’s free. If you have an old wire coat hanger, just loosen it with the hook at the front and wrap a cloth or a towel to avoid scraping the inside of your toilet. This method works really great when the clog is near the toilet drain, and you can use the hanger’s hook to scrape it out.

If your toilet is made out of porcelain (most are), there is a chance of scratching it by using a metal hook. While it’s great for emergencies, the safer bet would be to invest in a toilet snake just to be on the safe side. If the snake/wire hanger methods don’t work, then you can try a dry/wet vacuum cleaner to unclog the toilet.

Wet/Dry Vacuum

This method is kinda nasty but proven to take care of business. You can use your home vacuum cleaner to suck out the clog. Warning! Do this only if your vacuum cleaner is a wet/dry vacuum that can suck water or liquids. It’s best to use heavy-duty vacuum cleaners to get the best unclogging results.

Put on your rubber gloves and suck out the entire water content from your toilet. After the toilet is empty, place the vacuum hose into the toilet, tie a cloth around it, and push it inside the hole to create that suction effect. When everything is in place, hit the switch and let her rip. Leave it running for a couple of minutes, and then shut it off. Take out the hose and flush the toilet. If the toilet is flushing properly, the mission was a success, if not, try again or consider calling a plumbing specialist.

When to Call a Plumber?

There is no shame in failing to unclog the toilet. Capitulating in front of the toilet might seem shameful, but the fault might really be clogged deeper than you think. If you’ve exhausted all our methods, the chances are your pipes might need replacing or even the whole toilet system has to be disassembled.

Advanced plumbing issues require special tools and an expert eye to not cause any more damage to the drainage system. The plumber will most likely find the problem and charge you to fix it. That’s life, unfortunately.

Plumber Costs

This can really depend on the plumber and the issue in question. There can be cases when the whole toilet has to be dismantled to reach the drainage pipes. Floor and wall tiles will have to be removed, and even the concrete under the toilet might have to be dug up. This kind of issue might set you back a couple of hundred $ but again, it depends on the plumber and the difficulty of the job. It’s best to call a plumber to assess the situation and work out a payment plan depending on the man-hours and the job’s difficulty.


Will a toilet eventually unclog itself?

Often, clogs are water-soluble, meaning that they will disintegrate, and the water will freely flow again over time. On the other hand, there are cases where a hard object clogging the toilet will not budge unless it’s removed.

How long does it take for a toilet to unclog itself?

Again, this depends on the clog. Sometimes you can have a bunch of wet tissue papers that clog the toilet, and they will release after an hour, while other times, it can take a whole 24 hours. One option is to leave your toilet for 24 hours to unclog itself before taking unclogging measures.

Is it OK to leave a toilet clogged overnight?

If the toilet is not overflowing, then yes. The safest way would be to turn off the water supply valve to the toilet, fill it with baking soda and vinegar and leave it cooking overnight.

How do you unclog a toilet fast when the bowl is full?

If the bowl is full, first of all, shut off the water supply valve and take out some of that water until the bowl is half full. After that, you can use some of our tips for unclogging. You can choose between baking soda/vinegar, dish soap/hot water, or chemical and enzyme cleaners.

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