6 Ways to Unclog a Toilet (No Plumber or Plunger Needed!)

It’s a nerve-wracking situation, and it’s happened to us all — you flush the toilet only to see the water level rising rather than going down. Whether the pipes have become blocked over time or you accidentally flushed something you shouldn’t have, you now have to deal with the clog. Thankfully, even when you don’t have a plunger handy and don’t want to go through the hassle of calling a plumber, there are a few ways of fixing the problem.

There’re multiple ways to unclog a toilet by using household items instead of special equipment. Sometimes combinations of dish soap and hot water or baking soda and vinegar are enough. Otherwise, you can use a storebought drain cleaner, a coat hanger made into a DIY drain snake, or a toilet brush.

Even when you have limited options, there’s no need to despair over a clogged toilet. Let’s take a closer look how to clear blockages when you don’t have the right equipment and don’t want to call a plumber.

How to Unclog Your Toilet Without a Plumber or a Plunger

Woman cleaning toilet bowl with baking soda

When you’re trying to unclog your toilet without calling out a plumber, it’s best to start with the lighter methods and work your way up. Sometimes the easiest methods will dissolve a light clog, so start with the natural mixtures, and if those don’t work, you can move on to heavier-duty drain cleaners or DIY snaking.

As an additional note, you shouldn’t insert things down the toilet without making sure it’s safe to do so, especially materials that have sharp edges.

If you start to try using anything you can, then you might discover that you’ve damaged the pipe, and that can make the problem so much worse — you’ll definitely need a plumber after that.

Dish Soap and Hot Water

Dish soap and hot water is a pretty easy method to get rid of a light clog that’s settled in the toilet. Fill a pot with a gallon of water and sit on the stove to get it hot. Avoid boiling water, as this can crack your toilet bowl!

Once the water is hot, add about half a cup of dish soap into it, then pour it all down the toilet. The soap should dissolve the clog that’s sitting down there if you leave it to sit for a few minutes.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

If that doesn’t work, you can also try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Pour equal parts of baking soda and vinegar directly into the toilet bowl. Usually, a cup is fine.

You should then walk away and leave the mixture to sit for around half an hour, as it may take some work for it to get through the clog. Return and see if it’s gone down, and if it has, you know it worked!

You shouldn’t pour any more than a cup of each down there as this could result in the clog becoming even worse if it doesn’t work to dissolve it.

Store-Bought Drain Cleaners

Store-bought drain cleaners (which you can buy on Amazon) are great for removing clogs that the natural solutions aren’t strong enough to deal with. Oftentimes, the clog has been building up there for weeks, which results in it becoming too thick for lighter solutions.

This can leave you thinking that only the most experienced plumber will be able to break through it. Not so!

Many drain cleaners are designed specifically for this situation. Each will come with its own instructions depending on its ingredients and strength, so make sure to read the bottle before proceeding.

Usually, you’ll pour it down and wait a certain amount of time to see if the heavy-duty chemicals can break through whatever’s clogging your toilet.

You should make sure you take safety precautions. Wear gloves when handling drain cleaners, as they can burn your skin. Also ensure that the area is well-ventilated, as the fumes from drain cleaners can be toxic. 

Let everyone else in the house know that they need to stay away from the bathroom and take extra care to keep kids and pets from entering. Drain cleaners will usually have a recommended time before you can use the toilet again, often as long as 12 hours.

Snaking Your Toilet

Snaking your toilet is another very effective way to get rid of a clog. Many people think that you need a professional, mechanical snake to do this, but you don’t need to purchase such expensive equipment. Instead, you can use a metal coat hanger to snake the toilet. And just FYI you can also purchase simple drain unclogging tools (on Amazon) for pretty cheap, if this is something you suspect you’ll want a tool on hand for.

Untwist the wire until it’s a straight line, leaving part of the handle to hang onto. Slowly and carefully insert it down the toilet bowl and proceed until you feel it stop. You can then gently wiggle it around and should be able to grab hold of the clog that’s in the pipe, pulling it up with the coathanger.

It’s pretty gross, but it’s also the most effective way of snaking your toilet and much cheaper than calling out a plumber to deal with the issue!

Vacuum Valve

If nothing else is working and you’re willing to spend a little bit of money to fix the problem, head to your local hardware store and rent a wet/dry vacuum. You will definitely need one of these, as unclogging a toilet should not be attempted with your regular household vacuum.

Use the vacuum to empty the water from the bowl so that it’s completely dry. You can then wrap the hose in some cloth to create a seal and insert the hose down the drain.

Turn on the vacuum and see if it sucks out the clog. For clogs that won’t dissolve with chemical cleaners but aren’t too stubborn, this method should help get your pipes free and clear again.

Toilet Brush

Toilet bowl cleaning

If you have a toilet brush (or can get one quickly from a place like Amazon) then you actually have a DIY cheap plunger lying around and can use it in the same way! Insert it as far down the toilet bowl as you can and then firmly move it up and down to try and break apart the clog. Always use the end with the brush, as this will be more effective at breaking up stubborn matter.

It unfortunately may not be as effective as a real plunger, but you’d be surprised at how it does the job in its place with a lot of blockages.

There you have it — there are plenty of methods for breaking apart or pulling out a clog without spending the money on an expensive plumber. Not everyone has a plunger lying around either, so these alternatives can be handy to bear in mind.

Start with the natural solutions and work your way up to more heavy-duty methods and hopefully, one of them wil leave you free and clear.