DIY Toilet Unclogging: Step-by-Step

Are you faced with a blocked toilet and not sure how to fix it? You are in the right place. This guide will teach you how to unclog toilets step by step. We get advice from James Schuelke, a plumber with over 32 years’ experience.

He’ll show us many ways to clear up that troublesome blockage, including using simple tools like plungers and clever DIY solutions such as vinegar and baking soda mixtures.

Many people have tried these methods already, giving them a thumbs-up for helpfulness! We’ve made sure to also include pictures so you can see exactly what to do. And we won’t forget about keeping safe – we’ll cover wearing gloves and cleaning your tools properly.

Of course, clogs can be annoying if they keep happening. So, we’ll give tips on stopping blockages before they begin. Sometimes though, the problem might be too big for DIY fixes, and that’s when it’s wise to call in an expert plumber.

Let’s start learning how your toilet works better than ever!

Signs of a Clogged Toilet

Your toilet might be clogged if you see water rushing to the brim with each flush. This happens when there’s a blockage stopping normal flow. You’ll also notice the water level is higher than usual, even when not in use.

Another clue is slow drainage; after flushing, if the water trickles down rather than flowing freely, there’s likely a clog. Listen for odd gurgling noises from your toilet too. These sounds can signal trapped air in the pipes due to a clog somewhere.

Basic Steps to Unclog a Toilet

Before you call in the professionals, there are several straightforward techniques to tackle a blocked toilet yourself. Utilising the tools at hand, such as a trusty plunger or an ordinary toilet brush, can often lead to a swift and satisfying resolution.

Using a Plunger

Using a plunger is often the quickest way to unclog a toilet. Make sure you have a good-quality rubber plunger for the job.

  • Grab your toilet plunger and ensure it has an extension flange.
  • Fit the flange into the toilet bowl, covering the hole completely.
  • Push down firmly to create a good seal; the plunger should be submerged in water.
  • Pump the plunger up and down over the hole, maintaining the seal.
  • Keep pumping with strong thrusts for about 15 to 20 cycles.
  • Pull up sharply on the last thrust to break the air seal.
  • Check if water drains away quickly, indicating that the clog is gone.
  • Repeat these steps if your toilet is still not flushing right.

Using a Toilet Brush

After trying with a plunger and still facing a clogged toilet, grab a toilet brush. It might surprise you, but a sturdy toilet brush can serve as an impromptu unclogging tool. Follow these steps to get your toilet flushing smoothly again:

  • Grab the toilet brush and put on rubber gloves. Keep your hands clean and protected.
  • Make sure there’s enough water in the bowl to cover the bristles of the brush. This helps create suction.
  • Push the brush into the drain hole at the bottom of the bowl firmly. Be prepared for some resistance.
  • Pump the brush in and out vigorously. You’re trying to break up whatever is causing the blockage.
  • Continue this action for several minutes. Persistence is key here.
  • Pour a bucket of hot water into the bowl from waist height. It can help shift clogs further down the pipe.
  • Test flush your toilet to see if the blockage has cleared. If water swirls away properly, you’ve done it!
  • Clean and disinfect your brush thoroughly after use. Always keep hygiene in mind.

DIY Solutions for Toilet Unclogging

Embark on a journey to conquer clogged toilets with fuss-free, DIY solutions that are easy to implement using everyday household items. These clever hacks aim to provide effective alternatives before resorting to professional help, ensuring your loo is back in working order with minimal hassle.

Use of Dish Soap and Hot Water

Unclogging a toilet with dish soap and hot water is simple. This method is safe for the environment and gentle on your pipes.

  • Begin by squirting a generous amount of dish soap into the toilet bowl.
  • Heat up a gallon of water until it’s very hot but not boiling.
  • Slowly pour the hot water into the bowl from waist height, increasing the force to help dislodge the clog.
  • Allow the mix to sit for 20 minutes, giving it time to break down the blockage.
  • Try flushing the toilet. The clog should move more easily thanks to the slippery soap.
  • If the water starts to rise, stop flushing and give it more time to work.
  • Repeat these steps if necessary. A tough clog might need a second go.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Mixture

After trying washing-up liquid and hot water, you might want to use a bicarbonate of soda and vinegar mixture for tougher clogs. This method is safe and uses common household items.

  • First, make sure there’s not too much water in the toilet bowl. Pour out extra water if needed.
  • Measure one cup of bicarbonate of soda. Slowly pour it into the toilet bowl.
  • Wait a few minutes. Let the bicarbonate of soda settle at the bottom of the bowl.
  • Measure two cups of white vinegar. Carefully add this to the bowl.
  • The mixture will start to fizz. Stand back to avoid splashes.
  • Leave it to work for five minutes. Allow the reaction time to break down the clog.
  • Boil some water while waiting. Be careful not to scald yourself or damage the toilet with too – hot water.
  • Pour hot water into the bowl from waist height. This creates pressure to help clear the blockage.
  • Test flush your toilet cautiously. See if the clog has cleared without causing an overflow.
  • Repeat these steps if necessary.

Creating a Wire Coat Hanger Snake

A wire coat hanger can turn into a handy tool if you face a clogged toilet. You just need to follow these steps to create your own DIY toilet snake.

  • Straighten out the hanger completely, making sure it’s as long as possible.
  • Bend one end of the wire into a small hook; this will help grab whatever is causing the blockage.
  • Wrap the other end of the hanger with duct tape to make a handle. This provides better grip and prevents scratches inside the toilet bowl.
  • Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands from germs and dirt.
  • Gently lower the hooked end of the hanger into the toilet bowl.
  • Start fishing around in the bowl with the hook to latch onto any debris.
  • Twist and move the hanger gently when you feel resistance, so you can break up the clog or pull it out.
  • Once you’ve cleared some material, flush the toilet to check if water flows freely. Be ready to stop a potential overflow!
  • If water still doesn’t drain properly, repeat the process until you remove enough of what’s blocking.
  • Disinfect all surfaces that come in contact with the coat hanger after unclogging is successful.

Using a Plastic Bottle to Create Water Pressure

  • Begin by filling up the plastic bottle with hot water, not boiling, to avoid cracking the toilet bowl.
  • Make sure you have tight – fitting gloves on to keep your hands clean and dry.
  • Before using the bottle, remove as much water from the toilet bowl as possible. You could use a small container or cup for this.
  • Next, take the full bottle and place its opening under the water in the toilet bowl.
  • Keep a firm grip on the bottle. Seal it against the bottom to prevent air and water from escaping.
  • With force, squeeze the bottle. The pressure sends a strong gush of water into the clog.
  • You may need to repeat this process several times. If successful, you’ll notice water draining from the bowl.

Advanced Methods for Toilet Unclogging

For those up against particularly stubborn blockages, exploring advanced methods for toilet unclogging can offer a solution where basic techniques fall short. Delving into tools like plumbing snakes and wet/dry vacuums opens new avenues to efficiently clear challenging clogs without having to immediately resort to professional assistance.

Using a Plumbing Snake

Using a plumbing snake is a reliable method for tackling tough clogs in your toilet. It’s important to use the tool carefully and with patience to clear the obstruction without causing damage.

  • Find the right plumbing snake, sometimes called a drain snake or closet auger, for your toilet.
  • Put on protective gloves to keep your hands clean and safe from germs.
  • Make sure the toilet bowl has enough water to cover the head of the snake.
  • Place the end of the snake into the toilet bowl and aim it towards the drain hole.
  • Turn the handle clockwise to extend the snake down into the drain.
  • Keep turning until you feel resistance, which means you’ve reached the clog.
  • Rotate against the blockage gently. This helps break it apart or hook onto it.
  • Pull back slightly as you twist to see if you can pull out any material causing the clog.
  • If no progress is made, push forward while rotating to break up the clog further.
  • Repeat this process with patience, as it may take several attempts to clear out all obstructions.
  • Once water starts flowing down more freely, flush with confidence that you’ve removed most of what was blocking.
  • After finishing, clean off any debris from your plumbing snake before storing it away.

Employing a Wet/Dry Vacuum

Using a wet/dry vacuum can be a powerful way to unblock a clogged toilet. Ensure you have one that can handle water before you start.

  • Prepare the vacuum by removing the filter and any inside bag since you’ll be dealing with water.
  • Seal the outlet of the vacuum to prevent any messes. Use duct tape if necessary.
  • Place the hose into the toilet bowl, aiming for the drain hole.
  • Create a tight seal around the hose with old rags or towels. This helps increase suction power.
  • Turn on the vacuum and let it suck out the clog. The blockage should move through the hose into the vacuum’s tank.
  • Keep an eye on water levels in both the toilet bowl and vacuum tank while operating.
  • After clearing, pour some boiling water into the bowl to ensure smooth flushing.
  • Wash out the wet/dry vacuum thoroughly after use to avoid any lingering smells or bacteria.

Using a Store-Bought Unclogging Product

After tackling clogged drains with a wet/dry vacuum, you might consider store-bought unclogging products. These items can offer a quick fix for your overflowing toilet. Just follow these steps:

  • Read the product’s label carefully before using it. Ensure it is suitable for toilets and not just for blocked sinks or showers.
  • Put on gloves and goggles to protect yourself from harsh chemicals. Safety comes first when handling any cleaning agents.
  • Pour the recommended amount of unclogger into the toilet bowl. The instructions should tell you how much to use.
  • Wait for the time stated on the product’s instructions. This could be anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight.
  • After waiting, try flushing the toilet to see if the clog clears. Do this only if the water level has gone down to prevent more overflow.
  • If one application doesn’t work, avoid adding more product right away. Too many chemicals can damage your pipes.
  • Rinse any splashes of the product from skin or clothes immediately with plenty of water. Accidents can happen, so act fast if they do.

Safety Measures and Clean Up Tips

Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from germs. Keep a bucket and mop close by for any spills. After unclogging, throw away used gloves and rags in a plastic bag. Wash the plunger with hot water and disinfect it.

Clean the floor around the toilet once you finish. Use bleach or another strong cleaner to kill germs. Scrub the toilet bowl with a brush to remove any leftover dirt. Flush several times to rinse away cleaning products.

Be gentle when using tools like coat hangers or plumbing snakes; they can scratch your toilet if you’re not careful.

How to Prevent Future Toilet Clogs

After ensuring safety and cleanliness, think about avoiding future issues. Don’t flush non-flushable items like wipes or feminine hygiene products. These are common culprits for blocked drains.

Use toilet paper sparingly to prevent overloading the system.

Regularly clean with a toilet brush to stop buildup before it starts. This can help keep siphon jets clear and maintain strong flushing power. Schedule drain cleanings with a professional plumber to remove deep clogs you might miss.

Choose septic-safe toilet paper and never pour grease down the drain as it can harden and cause clogging. Keep an eye out for slow drainage—it’s often the first sign of a problem developing.

DIY Tips for Fixing a Running Toilet

A running toilet can waste a lot of water. Fix it quickly with these easy steps:

  • Check the flapper. This rubber part often causes running toilets. If it doesn’t seal well, water keeps flowing. Remove the tank lid, flush the toilet, and watch if the flapper closes fully.
  • Adjust the float. The float controls water level in the tank. If set too high, water spills into the overflow tube and keeps the toilet running. Bend the float arm gently to lower the water level until it stops just below the overflow tube.
  • Clean mineral buildup from tank parts. Minerals in hard water can make parts stiff or blocked. Turn off the valve behind your toilet to stop water flow to the tank, then scrub away any scales or deposits with a suitable cleaner.
  • Tighten any loose parts carefully. A loose chain or handle might let water escape continuously. Use a wrench to tighten them without overdoing it.
  • Replace worn-out components when needed. Sometimes fixing isn’t enough – replace old flappers or fill valves that seem damaged or cracked.
  • Test for silent leaks with dye tablets or food colouring in your tank; if colour shows up in your bowl without flushing, you have a leak that needs fixing.
  • Cut short overflow tube issues by ensuring it’s not too tall; if necessary, trim it down so that it stands about an inch below your tank’s critical level mark.
  • Regularly clean out debris from intake and discharge holes under your rim using a piece of wire to keep everything running smoothly.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

Sometimes your toilet unclogging efforts may need expert help. Call a plumber if flushing the toilet causes water to back up into sinks or showers. This sign means there could be a clog in the main sewer line, and it’s not something you should try to fix on your own.

Another time to pick up the phone is if there is a smell of gas around the toilet area. A gas smell can indicate a break or issue within the sewer system that requires immediate professional attention for safety reasons.

Always put your health first and get a skilled plumber to deal with these serious issues quickly.


With the right tools and a bit of effort, you can tackle a clogged toilet yourself. Remember to wear gloves and keep your bathroom ventilated. Trust in your abilities, follow these steps carefully, and your toilet should be running smoothly again.

If things get too tricky, don’t hesitate to call in a professional plumber for help. Good luck with your DIY unclogging project!

If you’re also dealing with a persistently running loo, our guide on DIY tips for fixing a running toilet may just be the solution you need.


1. What can I use to unclog my toilet if I don’t have a plunger?

You can make a homemade drain cleaner with items like Epsom salt, baking soda, and vinegar to break down the clog in your toilet without needing a plunger.

2. Is it safe to try unclogging a toilet on my own?

Yes, it’s safe. You can use simple tools like plungers or drain snakes to clear clogged pipes. Always follow instructions carefully and wear gloves for hygiene.

3. Can vacuuming help unblock a flushing toilet?

No, vacuuming isn’t suitable for this job. Instead, you should use methods tailored for toilets like using a plunger or drain snake designed for plumbing issues.

4. Will Epsom salt work just as well as commercial products for unclogs?

Epsom salt can be an effective alternative when mixed with other household ingredients; however, its success might vary compared to commercial cleaners specifically formulated for clogged pipes.

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