How to Unclog Your Toilet Without a Plunger

Evelyn Long

Jun 27, 2023

unclog your toilet without a plunger - small wooden figure sitting on edge of toilet.

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Got plunger problems? Your toilet plunger is often something you think about until you need it, but getting stuck without one is a specific type of anxiety that is hard to describe. You don’t want to leave a mess in any toilet, especially at a private residence. Thankfully, there are other ways to unclog your toilet without a plunger. 

Whether you don’t want to confess to clogging your friend’s toilet or it’s the middle of the night and your only toilet at home gets clogged, here is how to remedy the situation. 

Whatever You Do, Stop Flushing!

It’s easy to panic in these situations, and too many of us keep pushing the flapper/flusher in hopes that our brain power will make the clog decide to go down the drain. 

This will likely make the clog worse by expanding it, but it could also break the flapper. If water continues to fill the toilet with each flush, you are about to have a much larger issue. Once it overflows, the floor, walls and possibly yourself will need tending. 

Empty toilet role with "Don't Panic" written on it.

Take a Breath 

Clogging a toilet happens to the best of us and it is not a reflection of who you are as a human being. It might not even be your actions that caused the clog. Issues with the toilet or pipes could be to blame. 

Though a plunger is often the fastest and easiest way to resolve a clog, these options can work well too. However, you are less likely to do them correctly if you’re stressed out over the faux-pas. 

Method #1: Hot Water 

Yes, it’s adding more water but the temperature change might help unclog your toilet without a plunger. Toilets run with cold water, which can more easily hold materials like toilet paper and other items together. It’s similar to why manufacturers say to wash delicate clothing items in cold water. 

Hot water can damage and dissolve items, which might be what the clog needs to make it through the drain. 

As long as the toilet is not close to overflowing, pour hot water on the clog and see if it shrinks. If there is an obvious improvement, try flushing it down. 

IMPORTANT: While you need the water to be hot, do not make it boiling. Water at such a high temperature can break porcelain. It may let you unclog your toilet without a plunger but causes a larger problem. 

Metal hanger on orange background.

Method #2: The Hanger Trick 

While the title references an unraveled clothes hanger, anything long, skinny and sharp should work. The goal is to hold onto one end of the object while the other pokes at the clog to break it into smaller pieces. 

Once broken up, the clog should go down. If not, try holding some of the pieces back with the item, releasing them one at a time until everything goes down the drain. 

Method #3: Liquid Dish Soap 

The next trick to unclog your toilet without a plunger Dish soap uses a lubricating formula to remove dirt, germs and grease from your pots, pans and plates. It can have a similar effect on toilet pipes. If a clog can’t make it down or is stuck further than you can reach, this may be your solution. 

Start with a small amount of the soap and add more as needed. If it is not working or there is an excess of bubbles, try adding hot water to further help the clog move along. 

Method #4: Baking Soda and Vinegar 

This incredibly versatile combination works well for toilet clogs without a lot of water in the bowl. Pour one cup of baking soda onto the clog and then add a cup of vinegar. It should start fizzing. 

Leave the mixture for a while to see if it dissolves the clog. If it doesn’t, pour hot water onto it and see if it begins to break up. 

Method #5: A Water Bottle 

Plastic water bottle in window sill.

Plastic water bottles are generally frowned upon but this is their time to shine. Use a bucket or other container to remove as much water from the toilet as you can. You can pour it down the drain once the clog leaves. 

Fill the plastic water bottle with warm water. Dispose of the lid but cover it with a gloved thumb or other item that can serve as a stopper. Keep the bottle covered as you put it against the clog. 

Remove your cover to let the warm water shoot at the clog. The water pressure from the bottle might be enough to send it down the drain. 

Other Options 

If none of these methods work, it might be best to cut your losses and borrow or purchase a plunger. However, you can probably remove it by hand in a pinch. 

Yes, it is disgusting and you’d have to have some way of disposing of it but it can solve an emergency. Use a gloved hand or drain snake to see if you can get to the clog. Then, pull it out. 

If your toilet is constantly clogging or you cannot get it unclogged with any of these methods, it is probably time to call in a professional plumber for guidance. 

How to Prevent a Toilet From Clogging

There are some things to keep in mind if you want to do everything in your power to prevent a toilet from clogging. 

Use Less/Thinner Toilet Paper 

Many brands of toilet paper praise themselves for being the plushest and softest options. While they can be nice, you often have to use much less paper than you normally would to avoid clogs. Some pipes and septic systems do not like thick toilet paper. If you are getting clogs with a plush option, consider switching to a thinner one. 

Don’t Flush Anything Else 

Toilets are made to handle water, human waste and toilet paper. Anything else– including paper towels and hygiene products–could cause a clog. If you have a question of whether something should go down a toilet, it’s best to throw it away. 

Avoid the Brick Trick 

An old tip was to place a brick in the back of a toilet to minimize its water use. However, manufacturers make modern commodes to conserve water. The water used is what the tank needs to effectively move everything down the drain. Keeping a brick or other item in the tank could minimize that ability, leading to clogs. 

Wooden sign with restroom symbols.

Unclogging a Toilet Without a Plunger

Clogs happen but these methods can prevent the inconvenience from affecting you or others. It can get embarrassing to talk about but with a few items, you can be an unclogging master–plunger or no plunger. 

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