How to Unclog a Clogged Toilet

You’ve never experienced true panic until you’ve flushed a clogged toilet and watched the murky water slowly rise and risk spilling over onto the clean bathroom floor. Unfortunately, whether it’s from flushing the wrong things down the toilet or just from the build-up of toilet paper and other waste products over time, clogged toilets are a fairly common problem. Thankfully, there are several simple methods for unclogging toilets, and most blockages can be easily unclogged without having to call a plumber.

What Should I Do When My Toilet Gets Clogged?

The first thing to do when your toilet becomes clogged is STOP FLUSHING THE TOILET! If you only flush it once, the toilet bowl will fill with water, but it won’t overflow. If you flush multiple times, that’s a good way to flood your bathroom, wreck your floor, and maybe even wreck your toilet. It’s a good idea to shut off the water to the toilet completely by turning the nozzles on the hose attached to the wall, behind the toilet. Next, you’ll want to grab some old towels or newspapers and place them on the bathroom floor around the base of the toilet, just in case there are any spills. Also, you’ll want to find some good, long rubber gloves because things might get messy.

How Do I Unclog My Toilet?

Unclog the Toilet with a Plunger

The quickest, easiest way to unclog your toilet is with a good old-fashioned plunger. However, not all plungers are created equal. A lot of people have those small, red plungers with flat bottoms, and while these can sometimes be helpful for toilet clogs, they’re actually designed for sinks. Toilet plungers are shaped differently and have an extra piece on the bottom that fits into the hole in your toilet, creating a tight seal. With the proper plunger, most toilet clogs can be fixed quickly and easily.


  • Step 1

    Place the plunger over top of the hole in the bottom the toilet, creating the tightest seal possible. If you can’t create a tight seal, wrap an old rag around the bottom of the plunger.

  • Step 2

    Without breaking the seal, pump the plunger up and down a few times, allowing the changing air pressure to work the blockage free.

  • Step 3

    After several pumps, rapidly pull up on the plunger, breaking the seal and allowing the water to flow down the pipe. If the water flows as normal, the clog has likely been fixed. If not, you may have to repeat the process a few times.

  • Additional Tip

    If you don’t happen to have a plunger of any kind, then a regular floor mop with a plastic bag over the head can be substituted for a plunger and used in a similar way.

Homemade Drain Cleaners

If you feel like you’re using a plunger too often, the plunger isn’t working, or you simply don’t have one, then you might want to try unclogging your toilet with one of these simple homemade drain cleaning solutions.

We do caution you that off-the-shelf chemical drain cleaners like Drano or Liquid Plumber are not to be used to clear a clogged toilet. Due to the design of the toilet, the chemicals have time to sit in the bowl, heat up, and cause damage do the chemical reaction.

This could mean a cracked toilet bowl, or worse, a tiny explosion that damages your entire toilet, and in some cases, even the wall behind the toilet.

As an alternative to harsh chemicals, we do offer an all-natural drain cleaning product called BioSmart. 

Baking Soda and Vinegar

It’s no secret that mixing baking soda and vinegar makes an excellent all-purpose cleaning solution. Additionally, this fizzy chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar is also perfect for breaking down and loosening toilet clogs.


  • Step 1

    Using an old bucket, scoop some water out of the toilet bowl and pour it down the drain of the bathtub. Less water in the toilet will allow your baking soda and vinegar mixture to be stronger and more potent.

  • Step 2

    Pour some baking soda into the toilet. About half a box should work, but it won’t hurt to use a bit more if you’d like.

  • Step 3

    Next, slowly and carefully pour a bottle of white vinegar into the bowl on top of the baking soda. This will cause a fizzy reaction that will work to loosen the clog.

  • Step 4

    Use a sturdy pot to heat some water on the stove while you let the vinegar and baking soda mixture sit in the toilet for about an hour to fizz and bubble and break the blockage loose.

  • Step 5

    Being extremely careful, take the hot water from the stove into the bathroom. From about 1-2 feet above the rim of the toilet, pour the hot water down into the toilet bowl. If the water drains normally, the clog may be fixed. If not, repeat the process as necessary.

Unclog a Toilet with Dish Soap and Hot Water

This is a fairly simple and straightforward method of unclogging your toilet that works well on mild blockages. Everybody has dish soap in their house, right? Well that might be all it takes to loosen the clog in your toilet.

  • Step 1

    Pour some dish soap into the clogged toilet bowl and let it sit for about fifteen to twenty minutes in order to loosen the blockage. You really don’t need very much; about a tablespoon should do.

  • Step 2

    While you’re leaving the soap to sit and loosen the clog, start to heat a large, sturdy pot of water on the stove, but don’t allow it to boil. Boiling water can crack porcelain, so make sure the water is hot, but not too hot.

  • Step 3

    Slowly and carefully take the pot of hot water from the stove into the bathroom. Dump the water into the toilet bowl from about 1-2 feet above the rim, ensuring you don’t cause an overflow.

  • Step 4

    Repeat as necessary until the pressure from the water breaks the clog loose.

Here is a handy video to watch with further instructions:

Snakes and Augers

Plumbing snakes or augers are long, thin, and flexible metal wires that push their way through clogged pipes as the operator turns a hand crank. “Closet augers” are specifically designed for toilets and can be picked up at most hardware stores for about $30. They are easily the most effective way to remove clogs and blockages from your toilet.

  • Step 1

    Insert the working end of the snake or auger into the toilet. This end will likely have a plastic piece that protects your toilet from damage.

  • Step 2

    Push the snake down into the hole in the bottom of your toilet, and begin to turn the crank, feeding the plumbing snake further into the clogged pipe.

  • Step 3

    Locate the clog. You should be able to feel when the snake has reached the blockage, as you will no longer be able to crank the handle and extend the snake any further.

  • Step 4

    Push and pull and twist the snake in an effort to break up or dislodge the clog. You may have to work at it for a few minutes, but continue twisting and pushing until the blockage breaks apart or flows through.


  • Additional Tip

    If you can’t manage to get your hands on a plumbing snake, you may be able to substitute a straightened wire coat hanger. However, this would require the blockage to be within the first couple feet from the toilet, otherwise the hanger won’t reach. Also, a sharp coat hanger can easily scratch and damage your toilet, so make sure to wrap the end of the hanger with a rag to help protect your toilet. Just be sure you don’t lose the rag in the pipe and make the clog worse.

While these helpful tips can help unclog most blockages in your toilet, some clogs do require professional assistance. So, if you’ve tried everything and you still can’t manage to unclog your toilet, it may be time to call in the professionals at Canuck Plumbing and Heating. At Canuck, we’re always working hard to keep Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan clog-free, so call us today!

4 replies
  1. podatki
    podatki says:

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I’m very glad to see such great info being shared freely out there.

  2. Banjo Nominees
    Banjo Nominees says:

    Thanks for the advice you have rendered as regards unclogging toilets.
    I recommend methods where the bowl is not a risk of damage hence flooding like the ones below
    a gallon of warm water not hot as tea plus 1 cup baking soda and 2 cups vinegar. First pour baking soda and vinegar then water into the bowl.
    It seems similar to the one mentioned in the post though here water not as hot as tea is used. Please don’t use hot water coz it may cause harm to porcelain.
    Just purchase a drain cleaner liquid from grocery to save yourself from the burden.


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