How To Unclog Toilet When Plunger Doesn’t Work

When it works properly, the toilet is probably the last thing on our minds. However, when it malfunctions, it becomes the number one priority.

Usually, the plunger is the go-to tool for clogging. However, there are times when heavier machinery needs to be applied. This usually happens when the blockage is due to stuck paper towels or when the clog is quite deep down the pipe.

In this article, we’ll discuss the options for unclogging a toilet when the plunger fails you without getting into too many details. But if more information is what you’re looking for, take a look at our older article on how to unclog toilets when nothing works.

When Is the Plunger Not Helpful?

One of the most basic tools for unclogging toilets, the plunger usually gets the job done. However, there are certain situations when it’s just not enough.

For instance, if the clog is too big, the plunger may not be sufficient to pull it out. When you press the plunger, you eliminate the air, and the vacuum forces the clog to go upwards and out. Smaller and lighter clogs will usually leave the drain within the first few trials, but the plunger can be insufficient if you’re dealing with a bigger clog.

The plunger may fail you when the clog is stuck too deep in the drain. No matter how much you try, the clog is just too far, and you can’t pull it out with the plunger’s limited reach.

One thing to never do is to use excessive force on the plunger. It doesn’t pull out the problematic clog, but it may damage the toilet bowl.

What Are the Other Options?

If you’re in a situation where your plunger has betrayed you, here are some alternative solutions you can try.

Chemical Solutions

One set of solutions is homemade or store-bought chemical mixtures. They are effortless and can be backed up with a bucket of hot water.

Dish Soap and Water

If the plunger doesn’t work, start with the simplest possible alternative: dish soap. If the bottle is empty, rip a piece of hand soap and break it into chunks. The soap will lubricate the clogged pipe and help the debris slide down.

If soap alone isn’t successful, fill a bucket with hot water and pour it into the toilet bowl. The hit of warm water should help dislodge the clog.

Baking Soda Mix

Baking soda is another fine homemade solution for unclogging the pipes. Put one cup of soda and two cups of vinegar in the toilet. Let it fizz for at least 30 minutes. If it’s not successful, add warm water.


If you have some bleach at home, it can help the waste in the drain break down more quickly.

However, this is out of the question if you have a septic system. Even bleached toilet paper may harm the septic system, as the chemical compounds hurt the system’s microbiome.

If you don’t have a septic tank, you can pour 2-3 cups of bleach into the toilet. Follow up with a cup of powdered soap three to five minutes later.

Other Store-Bought Chemicals

If the homemade solutions are futile, you can buy another store-bought product. For organic clogs, enzyme cleaners should be quite effective, but if you’re dealing with a non-organic clog, you will need heavier artillery.

Chemical drain cleaners are available in every supermarket and online shop, but you need to make sure that you get the one specifically intended for the toilet. Be careful with application, as they are extremely toxic.


You can also use ready-made or DIY tools to unclog your toilet mechanically.

The Snake/Auger

If the chemical solutions are not doing the job, switching to good old tools is the next logical option. More expensive than the plunger but worth every penny, the snake/auger can help you reach those distant clogs that the plunger can’t.

Wire Hanger

Another DIY trick for toilet magic: the wire hanger. If you don’t have a snake or auger and don’t want to purchase one, you can make one with a wire hanger at your home by simply unraveling the hanger straight. Then, push the wire into the clogged area and free the drain of the clog. Don’t use a metal hanger, or it may damage the toilet bowl.

Toilet Brush

If the clog is just huge but not too deep, the toilet brush might help when the plunger can’t pull the weighty clog out. Just stick it up the drain a few times, and it should loosen things up so that the plunger can actually work.

Vacuum Valve

This should be the absolute last resort: renting or buying either a dry or wet vacuum from the local hardware shop. Do not even consider a regular vacuum for this. You will need to empty the bowl before sticking the vacuum down the drain.

Final Words

If the toilet is clogged and the plunger doesn’t work, it may seem as if a disaster is ahead. But don’t worry; there are many alternatives to try before panicking. There are many chemical solutions and tools that can help you unclog your toilet. If all else fails, you may need to call for professional help.

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