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How do I Unclog a Toilet?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Depending on the severity of the clog, there are a number of a ways to unclog a toilet. Before you begin, it is important to find out the cause of the clog, if you can. Objects like toys may need to be removed with the assistance of a snake, a flexible piece of coiled wire which can be forced into toilet's pipes to dislodge stuck objects. If the clog is simply caused by a large bolus of toilet paper, it can probably be plunged out. Be cautious about using chemical drain cleaners in toilets, as these may not remove the clog and they are extremely caustic.

If you have established that the clog is not caused by a stuck item such as a toy, you need to plunge your toilet. It is an excellent idea to keep a plunger around the house for small clogging issues; try to find a sturdy, well made plunger which feels like it will stand up to hard use, and keep it near the toilet or handy in a closet so that you can unclog a toilet quickly.

Start by taking some of the water in the toilet bowl out with a bucket, if the toilet bowl is especially full. This will help to prevent splashback while you unclog the toilet. Dump the bucket down the sink or in the tub. Next, cover the bathroom floor in towels to catch splashed water. To unclog a toilet with a plunger, insert the plunger into the toilet bowl, covering the opening in the toilet with the bowl of the plunger to make a seal. Pump the plunger vigorously up and down several times, creating water pressure which should force the clog to clear.

After you unclog a toilet with a plunger, flush it to make sure that the bolus is gone. You may want to consider taking the lid of the toilet tank off, so that you can quickly stop the flow of water by raising the floating ball in the tank. If the toilet is not unclogged, your quick action can prevent overflow.

If plunging doesn't work or the clog is caused by an object, you will need to use a plumber's snake. Some hardware stores rent out snakes, also known as augurs, and you can also purchase one. Feed the snake slowly and steadily into the pipe to push out the clog, turning the snake as you go. You may also want to keep the toilet bowl partially full so that water lubricates the snake. As the snake becomes hard to turn, pull it out, clean it, and repeat the process until the pipe is clear.

If neither or these measures works to unclog a toilet, you may need to remove the toilet and manually remove the source of the clog. If this task does not sound like something you have the skills to do, call a professional plumber. He or she may try snaking the toilet again before taking it out. If you have poured a chemical substance in the toilet to remove the clog, let the plumber know, so that he or she can avoid contact with the caustic chemical.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By EarlyForest — On Sep 13, 2010

I've been looking at a lot of articles on the best way to unclog a toilet, but what I'm really wondering is, how do you unclog a toilet that gets stopped up just all the time?

I mean, I don't use a whole lot of toilet paper or anything, but my toilet never seems to flush properly, and gets clogged really, really easily.

What can I do?

By Charlie89 — On Sep 13, 2010

Good for you, tackling the riper topics of life, wisegeek. I agree with planch, every parent needs to teach their kid how to use a plunger to unclog a toilet.

A clogged toilet is just one of those things you can't pass off to someone else in good conscience.

By Planch — On Sep 13, 2010

This is seriously one of those skills that everybody needs to learn. I think that learning how to unclog a toilet should be taught in home ec courses -- much more useful than making an apron!

My worst unclogging a toilet experience was when my kids were young.

They thought it would be fun to roll off not one, but two rolls of toilet paper into the bowl and then try to flush it. Repeatedly.

I only found out when I saw water leaking out from under the bathroom door and heard the giggles.

Let me tell you, that was an experience -- we were lucky we didn't have to call a plumbing and toilet repair service. After a lot of effort everything unclogged, but for a while there I thought we were going to have to take the whole thing out and install a new toilet!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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