The humble toilet is arguably one of humanity’s best inventions. It allows us to transport waste safely through sewer systems or septic tanks to reduce disease exposure.
When the toilet gets clogged, it’s usually a quick fix to get things flowing again. All you need is a plunger and some sweat equity. About 90% of clogs can get fixed with a toilet plunger with an extension flange.
You want the flange because it’ll fit in the toilet better, giving more air pressure to each plunge. Don’t forget that you can use this tool to unplug tub and sink drains that get plugged! You need to fold the flange into the bell on some drains.
Here are some tips to consider if you’re plunging today without much success.
- Wear rubber gloves when working with a plunger. Things can get messy! On that note, don’t open your mouth to breathe while plunging unless you want some spray to potentially get in there.
- The first plunge should be gentle. If you have a bell full of air that you try to thrust hard into the trap, you’ll end up with water everywhere.
- Once the air is out, start plunging vigorously. By maintaining the seal, you force water through the drain in both directions. It might take 20 to 30 times.
- Be patient with the process. Consider alternating between steady plunging strokes and occasional heaves if it isn’t releasing.
There should be enough water in the toilet bowl to cover the plunger. Forcing only air through the trap won’t generate the pressure you need. If this option doesn’t work, a toilet snake can reach in there to dislodge a stubborn clog.
What If I Don’t Have a Plunger at Home?
If you don’t have a plunger at home and the time it would take to run to the store is unreasonable, these tricks can help you unclog the toilet.
Dish Soap Method
When you don’t have a plunger, you’ll need to coat the trap with a slick fluid to encourage the clog to move. The best product for that purpose is liquid dish soap.
It usually takes about a half-cup of dish soap to be effective. If you don’t have any of that product, you can chop a bar of hand soap into the toilet to create a similar effect.
Once the lubrication reaches the clog, it’ll start helping it slide along with each flush.
Hot Water Method
When there isn’t any dish soap available, you can add hot water to your toilet to force a flush. The combination of heat and pressure often dislodge stubborn clogs that get dehydrated in the toilet trap.
Don’t use boiling water for this method. It could crack the porcelain.
Try to pour the water from the waist level to maximize the effectiveness of this method. You can also add some dish soap to this process for extra lubrication.
Wire Hanger Method
If you don’t have a toilet snake, you can make one by using a wire hanger. Severe blockages might require this tool to help break it apart. You’ll push one end of the wire into the clogged area, with the other used for prodding with gloved hands.
The wire will damage the finish inside the toilet bowl. You might consider placing a towel into the drain while working to prevent scratches from forming.
Baking Soda Method
If you don’t have a plunger or any soap at home, an all-natural combination of baking soda with vinegar can often clear up a stubborn clog. You’ll want to use a 1:2 ratio of baking soda to vinegar for the best results.
Allow the combination to fizz for about 30 minutes before trying to flush the toilet. If you don’t get a result, try using the hot water method to follow this one.
Squirt Gun Method
When the toilet bowl is clear of water, you can direct water down into the toilet trap to dislodge the clog. If your sink or shower has an attachment that can reach this area, consider using the jet spray like a pressure washer to remove the clog. A high-pressure squirt gun provides similar results if you don’t have that option.
A clogged toilet can be a frustrating experience, but it can be a temporary inconvenience when you know how to fix the problem. Whether you use a plunger or one of the alternative methods, please remember to follow up with a trained professional if you can’t seem to get the flushes to start working again.