How to unclog your toilet without a plunger

Key tips to remember

  • Adding a gallon of hot water can unclog your toilet.
  • Everyday household items, like soap and a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, can help with the clog.
  • If the blockage is further down the pipe, you can create a plumber’s snake by unraveling a wire hanger.
DIY

Everyone hates when the toilet doesn’t work. When you flush the toilet, you expect its contents to go down peacefully. When that doesn’t happen and that ugly water threatens to overflow, it can inspire terror in even the calmest among us. And if you don’t have a plunger handy, unclogging it may seem like an impossible task. Luckily, there a few different ways to tackle a clogged toilet with household items that you probably have nearby.

Hot water

If you have avoided the temptation to test the superpowers of your toilet by trying to flush it once it is already clearly clogged and the water is not too far above its normal level, a bucket of hot water might do the trick.

In order for this method to work you’ll need about a gallon of the hottest water you can get out of your sink or tub. You don’t want the water to be boiling as that could potentially crack your toilet, but you’ll want to run the tap for a little bit to ensure it’s nice and hot. First, add about a cup of the hot water to the toilet and let it sit for a minute or two. This should help break up the clog in preparation for step two.

If you have let the hot water soak for a few minutes and are feeling lucky, you could try flushing the toilet again. But only try if it’s looking like the hot water has made some progress dissolving things, and take the lid off the back so you can close the flapper to stop it from overflowing if it remains clogged. If that doesn’t work or if you’re afraid to attempt it, take the rest of your bucket of hot water and pour it into the bowl. Don’t just dump it and risk splashing a mess around your bathroom, but pour it evenly from about waist height so it has some force behind it. The impact of the hot water should force your clog down the drain.

Add soap

If just hot water doesn’t work, adding liquid dishwashing soap should give you the extra boost you need to unclog it. Add a good amount of soap — about seven squirts — alongside some hot water, and let it soak. The soap should help break down the contents of the clog and lubricate the pipes. After waiting about 20 minutes, you can try to flush it again, and hopefully, you will have solved the problem.

Bath bombs

If you have any bath bombs lying around, you could potentially use one to unclog your toilet. The chemicals inside work like the dishwasher soap to break down the contents of the blockage and free up your pipes. If you choose this method, it will take more time. You need to drop the bath bomb into the toilet along with a few cups of hot water and let it sit for an hour or two to dissolve the clog.

Baking soda and vinegar

Another mixture that can work to break up a clog is baking soda and vinegar. Pour a cup of baking soda into the toilet followed by a cup of vinegar, and let it fizz for a little bit. After a few minutes, add a several cups of hot water and wait another couple of minutes for it to dissolve before trying to flush again.

Homemade hanger snake

For those tough clogs that seem like they are impossible to solve, you could try to use harsher chemicals, like bleach or a store-bought toilet drain cleaner. The chemicals contained in these can be harmful to yourself and your pipes, so only use them as a last resort. Bleach should be given 10 minutes to break down the clog, and if you use a toilet cleaner, wait for however long is instructions tell you to.

Bleach or chemical drain cleaner.

This method is useful when the blockage is not just in the bowl and it seems like whatever is clogging your toilet is further down the pipe. Unravel a wire hanger, straighten it out as much as possible to create your own plumber’s snake, and push it down the toilet, prodding at anything that could be blocking the flow of water. It won’t reach as far around the curve of the pipe as a real plumber’s snake would, but if there is anything within reach, you should be able to get your toilet working again.

If you find yourself in that moment of terror when the water level of your toilet is rising and you don’t have a plunger nearby, take a deep breath. Follow one or more of these methods, and you should manage to avoid disaster.

However, if you continue to have issues with your toilets, then it may be time to purchase a home protection plan. Take it from us — it’s just not worth your budget, time or frustration. A Cinch home protection plan covers a majority of your home systems, including toilets and plumbing systems, and appliances you use most to help save serious time and money on expert repairs and replacements.


The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.