Clogged toilets have happened to almost everyone at one point or another. A curious child flushing a small toy to see what happens, too much toilet paper used, soiled ToiletCredit: J HKerseydiapers or feminine hygiene products (neither of which should be flushed) among other things can cause a toilet to become clogged even under normal circumstances. Other things that can cause more serious problems may include sewer back up, a full septic tank, or roots in the drain pipe. These issues will generally require a plumber. But for the everyday clog, one of the following solutions or a combination of them will allow the average person to unclog a toilet and save the expense of a professional plumber.

No matter which method you choose, when you flush and see the water rising in the bowl to a point where you believe it is going to overflow, the first thing to do is remove the tank lid and close the toilet flapper as quickly as possible. This will stop any more water from entering the bowl.

Things You May Need

Depending on the method used you will need one or more of the following: a plunger, toilet auger, bucket, hot water, dish soap, wax toilet ring, adjustable wrench, rubber gloves, wet/dry vacuum

Method One – Plunger

PlungerCredit: JHKerseyUsually the first thing people reach for is a plunger to unclog a toilet. There are several types of plungers on the market to choose from including power plungers, bellow type cup plungers, vortex plungers and the old reliable rubber cupped with a wooden handle used by most homeowners. This type plunger should have a fold-out flange on the bottom which forms a seal. No matter which plunger you use, it’s important to have the correct size to ensure a snug fit and create a positive bowl seal. If the plunger is not making a tight seal try heating the rubber under hot water. This will soften up the rubber to improve the seal. You can also wrap a rag around the rubber end and apply pressure on any leaks.

Step One

The toilet bowl should have enough water in it to completely submerge the plunger. Usually this isn’t a problem with a stopped up toilet but if necessary add water to the normal level found in the toilet when it is functioning properly. Place the plunger into the water in the bowl and tilt it slightly to remove any air inside the rubber end. You want to force water instead of air when plunging. Water provides more force to help clear the clog.

Step Two

Press the plunger down slowly but firmly making sure to cover the hole completely. If you press too hard you may cause the water to flow over the rim. Also, you might jam the clog in further. After pressing down, pull up sharply while still maintaining the plungers seal. This will create suction in the drain which will pull on the clog. Whatever is clogging the toilet was lodged going in so suction in the opposite direction may be more effective in clearing the clog then the downward force.  By disturbing the clog in both directions you should be able to loosen most clogs. Stubborn clogs may require doing this several times.

Method Two – Hot Water and Dishwashing Liquid

This method sounded crazy to me when I first heard of it but I personally tried it and it works. It is evidently an “old plumbers’ trick” that can also work on kitchen and bathroom sink clogs as well. Dishwashing liquid is recommended since it is also used by animal rescue personnel to clean animals and birds after an oil spill. It does take time to work and the process may have to be repeated several times but you may avoid having to plunge at all.

Step One

Fill a bucket with hot water and pour it slowly into the bowl. (You may have to remove some of the water already in the toilet if it is already too full to handle the additional water.) Use the hot water as it comes from the faucet only. Do not use boiling water as it may crack the porcelain. Let the hot water sit for a while to allow it to melt the fats in the clog. This step may clear the clog by itself.

Step Two

If step one above does not work on its own, add some dishwashing liquid on the next try. The dishwashing liquid both lubricates and helps dissolve the clog. Squirt some into the bowl and wait for awhile. I recommend waiting overnight then try flushing the toilet. Be prepared to close the flapper quickly should the clog not be cleared.

 Method Three – Hot Water, Baking Soda and Vinegar

Step One

First pour one box of baking soda into the toilet bowl water. Next, slowly pour a medium size bottle of vinegar into the water. The mixture will begin to fizz. When it begins to foam, stop pouring until it stops foaming and then continue to pour the vinegar in slowly until the whole bottle is poured into the bowl. The baking soda and vinegar produces a chemical reaction that will help dissolve the clog. Wait 30 minutes to an hour and then pour in the hot water. You may have to repeat the procedure but it should work to clear the clog.

Method Four – Chemicals or Enzymes

Step One

Enzymes work very slowly so be prepared to wait at least overnight. These are the same products used to treat septic tanks and work by actually eating the waste. Products such as Rid-X can be purchased at some grocery stores and most hardware and home improvement centers. They only work on organic waste and will not clear clogs that are caused by other materials. Be sure to follow the directions on the package carefully.

Step Two

Chemical products such as Drain-O can also be used on organic clogs and can be purchased in the same locations as the enzymes listed above. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package. Much like enzymes, chemicals will not work on objects lodged in the toilet.

Method Five – Toilet Auger

Toilet AugerCredit: JHKerseyStep One

Purchase or borrow a household toilet auger (also called a plumbing snake or closet auger). They can be purchased at a home improvement center for around $10. These less expensive ones are not commercial grade but they do work well for homeowners. A toilet auger is the tool most likely to be used by a plumber when making a house call to clear a clog that cannot be cleared by a plunger. They consist of a handle attached to a crank with a flexible coil of wire coming out of the handle. They also have a protective shield covering part of the flexible wire to protect the toilet bowl from being scratched. The flexible wire snakes through the curves of the drain to free the clog.

Step Two

Insert the wire end of the auger into the toilet drain being careful to make sure the protective covering is over the wire until it is out of sight in the drain to prevent the toilet bowl from being damaged. Push down and feed the auger into the drain until you feel the clog.

Step Three

Turn the crank on the handle while continuing to push the wire into the clog until the water begins to drain. This method breaks up the clog and pushes it out of the way.

Step Four

If the obstruction is a hard object such as a small toy, it may be necessary to remove to toilet and use the auger from the bottom of the toilet to force the object out the way it came in.

Method Six – Wire Coat Hanger

Step One

If the clog is within the first few inches of the bowl drain a wire coat hanger may work to clear the obstruction. First unravel the end of the hanger by twisting the top ends until they are no longer connected.

Step Two

Straighten the hanger and make a small hook on the end that will be placed in the toilet bowl by bending the wire. Tightly wrap a cloth on the same end to prevent the wire from scratching the porcelain. The hook will help ensure that the cloth will not slip off the wire and be lost in the bowl to create a new clog. The hook can also be used to possibly pull the clog out.

Step Three

Place the wrapped end into the bowl drain and push it while turning and maneuvering it to clear the clog from the drain.

Method Seven – Wet Vacuum

Step One

If you have a combination wet/dry vacuum you can use it to empty the water from the toilet bowl and possibly suck the clog out. You must use a vacuum that is made for handling water as water will ruin a normal household vacuum. Place the flexible hose without any attachments into the bowl and remove the water.

Step Two

Place the hose into the drain a few inches. Wrap a cloth around the end of the hose to create a seal and turn on the vacuum. The suction can dislodge the clog and open the drain.

Step Three

You need to sanitize the vacuum using an appropriate cleaner to kill any germs or bacteria that may be on or in the vacuum by coming in contact with the water in the toilet bowl and drain.

Method Eight – Remove the Toilet

This is the most difficult of the methods listed but it is really not technically difficult. Knowing how to remove and replace the toilet to remove toys and other solid objects can save you a lot of money. Having a plumber remove and reinstall a toilet can be expensive when the only cost to you doing the job is a small waxed ring that is readily available at any home center.

Step One

Turn off the water supply to the toilet. There is a shut off valve located under the tank. Turn the valve in a clockwise direction until it stops. The water should now be off.

Step Two

Remove the tank lid and flush the toilet if possible to remove the water from the tank. If the toilet will not flush, remove as much water as possible from the tank and bowl. This will make toilet lighter and reduce the amount of water that will drain onto the floor.

Step Three

Disconnect the water supply from the tank. You can remove the tank from the bowl but it is not necessary.

Step Four

Use a utility knife to carefully cut through the caulk around the base of the toilet bowl.

Step Five

Remove the caps located on each side of the toilet base to reveal the nuts that secure the toilet to the floor. Next unscrew the nuts and remove them.

Step Six

Lift the toilet up and over the bolts in the floor and place it on old rags or newspapers to protect the floor.

Step Seven

Turn the toilet on its side and use an auger from the bottom of the toilet to force the object back out the way it came in.

Step Eight

Place a new wax ring on the toilet and place the toilet back in position aligning the two bolts onWax RingCredit: JHKersey the side of the base. Replace the nuts to secure the toilet to the floor and put on the caps back over the nuts.

Step Nine

Reconnect the water line and turn the water back on to the toilet. Flush and check for any leaks from the water supply line or from around the base of the toilet.

Step Ten

Apply caulk around the base to seal the toilet to the floor.


If any of the above methods that you try do not work for you and you feel uncomfortable doing any of the other methods, call a reputable plumber in your area. For other home repair or maintenance related articles please see my other articles here on Infobarrel or check out my website at for a complete listing.