A clogged toilet is a common-enough household disaster that most seasoned homeowners can handle it with a plunger and some elbow grease. However, there are times when this minor disaster escalates into a full-blown plumbing emergency—like when the backup overflows or persists in spite of common solutions.
As a homeowner, it’s important to know how to deal with different levels of clogged toilets, especially if it’s a common occurrence. It can take anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the severity of the situation. Luckily, there are a few different methods to unclogging the porcelain throne.
Method #1: Plunger
As mentioned earlier, the plunger is undeniably the most common (and most preferred) method for most homeowners. This basic tool is the best solution and is, in fact, the easiest to use.
We recommend getting several for your home: one with a flange for toilets, and a flat one. The latter is perfect for unclogging showers and drains.
This is the basic approach to using a plunger: put on rubber gloves and gently push the plunger down into the toilet to get rid of the air. Once it’s sealed well enough, pump the plunger in an up-and-down motion whilst retaining the seal. After that, sharply pull out the plunger to break the seal and wait a few moments for the water to flush. Repeat as necessary until the clog gives.
Method #2: Baking Soda and Vinegar
If the plunger method didn’t work, you don’t have one in your home, or your current one is broken, you can try using the magic domestic solvent: baking soda and vinegar. These two are typically used for cleaning drains, and together they can work wonders with toilets as well.
To mix the solvent, you will need one cup baking soda and two cups of vinegar. Pour the baking soda in the toilet and wait for a few minutes. Slowly add in the vinegar; there should be a bubbling effect after a moment. Leave it for a few minutes and then flush. Do this two to three more times until the clog goes down.
Method #3: Dish Soap or Shampoo and Hot Water
Another alternative to your plunger is dish soap or shampoo and hot water. It’s not as common as baking soda and vinegar, but it’ll still do in a pinch. Heat a gallon of water. While waiting for it to boil, squirt a generous amount of dish soap or shampoo into the toilet. Wait until the water is no longer boiling (but still quite hot), and then pour it into the toilet. Let the mixture sit for several minutes to soften the clog before flushing.
Method #4: Bio Cleaners or Enzymes
Chemical drain cleaners are a no-no for your plumbing as they pose chemical burn hazards. Instead of these, you can use safe bio cleaners or enzymes to do the trick. Each product has their own instructions and recommended usage, so make sure you follow each to the letter.
Method #5: Auger
When all these tricks just don’t seem to work, it’s time to use an auger—if you have one or can purchase one nearby. An auger is a plumbing tool used to snake the toilet to loosen clogs.
Snake the toilet hole using the auger and start turning the handle until it stops. At this point, you may have loosened the clog or hooked on to it. If it’s the latter, make sure you dispose of the waste instead of sticking it back in. Wait for your toilet to clear up or give it a few plunges, and then try flushing it to make sure it’s cleared up.
Method #6: Plumbing Professionals
The last—but definitely not the least—option on your list is to call in a professional. If household items and true grit can’t get rid of the clog, call in people with industry experience and expertise. This option depends on the urgency of your plumbing issue; there will be times when you just know none of the homemade fixes will work, in which case you should call your plumber right away.