We’ve all been there — flushing the toilet only to be met with the dreaded sight of the water rising rather than going down. Whether due to external factors or human error, everyone’s toilet ends up clogged once in a while, and we’re left trying to figure out the best way to reverse the damage.
Effective methods for unclogging a toilet include plunging, snaking, and pouring a special solution in. Start light with plunging and move to more intense options like snaking if the initial efforts don’t pay off. Most toilets can be unclogged without a plumber’s help, and without using chemicals.
Let’s take a look at the best way to unclog a toilet, the reasons it might have gotten clogged in the first place, and how you can prevent it from happening again in the future.
What’s the Best Way to Unclog a Toilet?
There are a few different ways you can attempt to unclog a toilet, depending on what you have at home and just how bad the blockage is.
The first is by pouring a corrosive solution down the toilet to dissolve the blockage. Sometimes a mild solution will work, but other times, you’ll need something like a chemical drain cleaner to get down into the clog and push through it.
Plunging is another way to unclog the toilet. You can buy plungers in most places (like on Amazon), and they’re pretty easy to use. Most of the time, they’ll get rid of the blockage without causing any damage to the toilet, though you may have to put a lot of force behind the motion.
For more stubborn clogs, you may have to snake the toilet. A snake (on Amazon) is a plumbing tool that goes down into the drain and breaks up the clog. Usually, it’s powered electrically to make sure it has enough strength to break through whatever’s there.
Best Solutions to Pour Down Your Toilet
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to unclog your toilet by flushing a solution down there that can get rid of the blockage. There are a few different solutions you can try.
A couple of the more mild solutions are dish soap and hot water (one cup of each) or baking soda and vinegar (one cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar).
If the clog is a very dissolvable substance or just a build-up of bacteria, these should do the job to get it out of the way and get the water flowing again. For more stubborn blockages, you might want to consider bleach.
If you still don’t have any luck, there are drain cleaners made specifically to unclog toilets (on Amazon). These usually have some very strong chemicals, so make sure you’re very careful when handling them. Always wear gloves and protective eyewear.
Ventilate the bathroom during and after use and make sure everyone’s aware of what you’re doing so no one accidentally enters the bathroom while the fumes are still in the air.
Alternative Methods to Try
If your liquid solution isn’t working and you don’t have a snake handy, there are some other methods you can try to see if they’ll break up the clog and get things running again.
Try pouring hot water down the drain. Sometimes, if you boil water, the heat is enough to dissolve the clog within a few minutes.
You can also use a DIY snake. If you have a coat hanger, unwind the triangular part and leave the hook in place. You can then feed this down the toilet and use the hook to grab onto the clog and pull it back up and out of the toilet. It’s not pleasant, but it works!
Although you can usually deal with a clogged toilet on your own, there are some cases where the clog is too stubborn and it requires professional equipment. An emergency plumber should be able to solve the issue for you.
How to Avoid Clogged Toilets in the Future
Knowing how to prevent clogged toilets in the future will help you from having to go through this again. Here’s what to know.
Limit Toilet Paper Use
Although toilet paper breaks down in the sewage system, sometimes large amounts get stuck — resulting in a clogged toilet. Make sure you aren’t being excessive with your toilet paper use (and don’t flush paper towels down there if you run out of toilet paper).
Be Careful What You Flush
There are only three things that should be flushed down the toilet:
- Human waste
- Toilet paper
Despite this, people often flush other things such as wet wipes, Kleenex, sanitary products, and even trash! These things should never be flushed down the toilet, even if the packaging claims it’s okay.
For example, some kitty litter may be labeled as flushable, but it’s still been known to cause clogs. When in doubt, put the item in the trash.
Keep an Eye on the Trees
Sometimes the cause of a toilet clogging isn’t actually due to the toilet at all but rather the pipes. Tree roots are notorious for growing through sewer line pipes and causing water to back up into the house.
Debris could also be flushed into the pipes during a storm. There are a lot of outside factors that can cause clogs to happen — though usually other plumbing fixtures will also be affected. The toilet may be your first sign though.
If water is backing up and you have no idea why, a plumber can run a camera down there to find the cause.
Ultimately, taking preventative measures with your toilet should keep it from clogging — but mistakes happen, external factors take hold, and sometimes you might still find yourself in a difficult situation.
If you do, try pouring one of the liquid solutions down there, plunging the toilet, and snaking it if need be. One of these solutions should work, and hopefully you won’t have to call in a plumber for support.