How to unclog a toilet is a household chore that every individual needs to know. However, often times it falls on dads and moms to take care of the dirty deed. We’ve all been there before. Sometimes it’s due to an overly aggressive wiper (which often times happens in my home). The worst scenario could be when you are away from the comfort of your own home.
You can be at a friend’s house. You’ve just done your thing in their nicely renovated white bathroom when you flush the toilet and notice the water beginning to rise with everything you left behind in the bowl. And I mean everything.  Panic sets in, the flop sweat starts to appear on your forehead as you struggle to decide what to do next.
I’ve been in this exact situation more than a couple of times….not at friend’s homes (I know you’re worried!) but typically when I travel for work. The last time I can remember a clog like this, I was in a really nice hotel while traveling for business. Now, most people would say that they didn’t care since it wasn’t their bathroom.
I, however, thought about having to call housekeeping or maintenance and have them come into my room and experience firsthand the horror that had exited my body. This unclogging of the toilet called for extreme measures and quick thinking. Luckily I had the experience to be able to put some of what I had learned (thanks to the internet and YouTube) to good use!


How to unclog a toilet with a plunger 

Unclogging a toilet isn’t difficult to do if you understand how the toilet works and a few simple tricks for guaranteed success. The one tool you will need is a plunger. Other optional accessories are a hazmat suit or wet suit depending upon the severity of the scene.


Stop the Water

They say when you’re on the beach if you notice all the water disappear from the ocean you need to run because it’s all going to come rushing back in. A tsunami. The same concept happens with a clogged toilet. The toilet runs and expects the water that’s in the bowl to disappear down the drain and take with it anything and everything in the water. However, when that drain is clogged the water has nowhere to go so it keeps rising. Eventually overflowing onto the floor and anything near it. It won’t stop until it’s turned off.

There are a few ways to prevent this from happening

  1. Pop the lid on the tank and make sure the flapper is closed. The flapper is the little red or black FLAP (that’s why it’s called a flapper) that stops the water in the tank from going into the bowl. This flapper is also something in your toilet that often times, if not replaced, can make the toilet seem as if it’s always running. A quick replacement will fix the problem.
  2. Reach behind the tank and turn off the water valve. You can’t miss the valve as it should be the only water valve behind the bowl. Once you’re certain that the water will not overflow you can safely turn the valve back on. 


This red rubber piece is the flapper


Plunge Away! 

Using a plunger would seem like an easy thing to do but many people use a plunger the wrong way. If you are unclogging a toilet you need a plunger called a Funnel Top Or Flange Funnel. These plungers have a piece of rubber coming off of it that fits in the hole in the toilet and creates a seal. Flat top funnels are used on sinks, showers and your head when you want to look like a unicorn.

Flat Plungers are for sinks and showers

Don’t be a unicorn


Push the plunger all the way down in the hole and make sure it is making a tight seal with the bowl itself. Push down and pull up multiple times until the water in the bowl has disappeared. Give the toilet a quick flush and make sure things are working properly. If there is still a clog revert to step one to make sure the water doesn’t go over and then plunge again. Stubborn clogs could take several plunges. I personally love this model below from Amazon.



Unclogging the toilet when you don’t have a plunger


Water Pressure

Going back to my hotel clog from earlier I’ll share what I did to clear that clogged toilet. This toilet was clogged and though it was a nice hotel there was no plunger in the room (a mistake on their part). In this situation, grab the largest cup or vessel you can find in the room (in my case it was a hotel ice bucket) and fill it with water. Make the water as hot as possible! Stand over the toilet as high as you can and pour the water forcefully into the bowl right over the hole. The force of the water causes gravity to pull the remnants down. I caution you to watch for splash back from the hot water and also whatever was left behind in the bowl.

unclog a toilet by pouring water in it



Plumbers say you can also add detergent to the water. I’m not sure of the physics behind the detergent (perhaps adding a bit of “slip” to the mixture in the water or the detergent breaking down the clog) but it is said to work. This works in those rare situations when you’re in a house and the laundry room is nearby and you can shuffle to grab some detergent.

pants around ankles unclog toilet

The “shuffle” for detergent


Baking soda and vinegar

Combining baking soda and vinegar is another way to unclog a toilet if you don’t have a plunger. Add one cup of baking soda to the toilet water and wait for about two minutes. Then carefully pour about two cups of white vinegar into the toilet. Save the balsamic for your salad. Baking soda and vinegar react and cause nice non-toxic bubbles. That’s why you need to pour the vinegar in slowly. A fast pour can cause the water to bubble over.  Let the vinegar and baking soda work their magic for several minutes and then flush the toilet.

Baking soda and vinegar to unclog a toilet

Baking soda and vinegar to unclog a toilet


Plastic Wrap (Saran Wrap) 

Stick with me on this one because it’s out there but it does work. I have seen it first hand and my wife loves this trick. Head to the kitchen and grab a roll of plastic wrap. Take the plastic wrap and tear off sections until you completely cover the bowl. Flush the toilet and as the plastic wrap begins to fill with air push down on the plastic wrap. The pressure from pushing down will cause the air to force the clog down. This video is great purely because of the comments from the little kid.


When all else fails trying to unclog a toilet with a plunger or without!



An auger is a device you can pick up from your local hardware store. It contains a “cable-like” piece when turned acts like a “snake” going down the drain and breaking up any clogs. Turn the crank until you can’t anymore. Typically that is a signal that you’ve reached the clog. The auger will either break the clog or attach to whatever is stuck and allow you to pull it out. Be careful about what you might pull out with the auger and be prepared for the worst with paper towels. Also, be sure that the rubber piece on the auger aligns with the hole in the bowl before you start turning the crank. You risk scratching the porcelain if done incorrectly. The auger will come with instructions on how to set it up in the bowl so make sure to follow them closely. 


Call a plumber

We’re only equipped to do so much as dads and moms. Sometimes we need to call in the professionals. Like the time I battled my daughter’s bathroom toilet for an hour and couldn’t figure out why it was still clogged. After plunging and trying all of the above I asked if anything might have fallen in. She confessed that she threw a McDonald’s toy down the toilet. This required professional help and the removal of the toilet. We were annoyed at first but laughed when the plumber walked down and showed us the problem. The Hamburglar in a police car.

ROTO ROOTER has always been reliable in situations like this unless you have your own plumber that you use.



If I can offer you any words of wisdom on how to unclog a toilet please share. Obviously, try to avoid clogging it in the first place. Teach your children early on that they don’t need to use an entire roll of toilet paper to take care of the cleanup. Also teach them that if they feel the need for some extra cleanup back there, try the “double flush”. Wipe and flush and then wipe and flush again. This is different from the courtesy flush but that’s an important lesson to learn as well.

I hope these tips can keep you out of any “shitty” situations. (sorry I had to) Do you have any horror stories worth sharing? Comment below.


1 Comment

  1. Nicole Andere

    Useful information. Thank you for sharing it


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