Project Guide

How to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger

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Stop Overflow
Water pooled on the floor at the base of a toilet.

Stop the flow of water from the tank to the toilet bowl if it is overflowing. 

First, remove the toilet tank lid and close the flapper at the bottom of the tank. To do this, unhook the chain that connects the toilet handle arm to the flapper. This will keep the flapper flat and prevent additional water from entering the bowl.

Reattach the chain with the water level in the bowl has receded. Avoid flushing repeatedly until you’ve eliminated the clog.

Remove Water
A person putting on rubber gloves near a toilet.

If the water isn’t draining at all from the bowl, you’ll need to manually remove a portion of it for some of the methods described below.

To lower the bowl’s water level, put on rubber gloves and use a disposable container to transfer the blocked water into an empty bucket placed next to the toilet.

Try Hot Water
Water being poured from a bucket.

The easiest and first thing to try when attempting to unclog toilets without a plunger is hot water. The addition of hot water might be enough to loosen the clog and dislodge the blockage. 

Fill a bucket with about a gallon of hot water from the sink or bathtub. Then pour the hot water into the toilet bowl.

Add Dish Soap
A person pouring liquid dish soap into a toilet bowl.

If the toilet is still draining slowly, pour a generous amount of liquid dish soap into the partially filled bowl. The grease-cutting properties of the soap can help disolve any solids that caused the blockage. 

Add some hot water and allow the soap to soak into the clog, as you might do with a dish to ease removal of baked-on debris.

Poke the Problem
A person wearing rubber gloves holding a toilet brush above a toilet bowl.

Try to break up the cause of the clog if the water is still not draining from the bowl as it should. If the culprit is visible in the drain at the bottom of the toilet bowl, use a straightened wire hanger to break up or dislodge the clogged area. Avoid scratching the surface of the porcelain.

You can also try a similar technique using toilet brushes. Wrap the bristles of the brush with a plastic sack. Secure the bag to the brush handle with a rubber band. Insert the wrapped bristles into the clogged toilet drain and use an up-and-down motion to remove the clog.

Use Water Force
A person holding a clear plastic bottle.

The next thing you could try uses water from a plastic bottle to force the clog through the trap, which is the basic function of a plunger. Wear a face mask to cover your mouth, goggles to protect your eyes from splashback and rubber gloves to keep your hands clean.

Completely fill an empty 2-liter bottle (a bottled water container might work if its diameter is large enough to fill the drain opening) with warm water and cover the bottle opening with your gloved thumb.

Then, invert the bottle and position it deep in the mouth of the drain at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Remove your thumb from the bottle opening and use both hands to squeeze the bottle to force the warm water into the drain, dislodging the clog.

Try Vinegar and Baking Soda
A cruet of vinegar and container of baking soda on a table.

Another potential home remedy for unclogging a toilet without a plunger uses vinegar and baking soda. The bowl needs to be about half-full of water before adding the other ingredients, so adjust the level accordingly.

Add one cup of baking soda to the water. Then slowly pour the vinegar into the bowl. The chemical reaction will create fizz. Wait and hope that the water level goes down, which would indicate that the clog has been cleared.

Tip: Epsom salt also produces a fizzy chemical reaction, so you could attempt using it you have it sitting around your bathroom instead of a plunger.

Use Drain Cleaning Chemicals
A variety of cleaning products and scrub brushes in a bucket.

When household mixtures don’t do the trick, you can try drain cleaning chemicals. Choose a non-corrosive cleaner that won’t damage your drain. Follow the directions on the cleaner.

Do not pour bleach down your drain when attempting to remove a clog. It can react with other substances in your pipes and create fumes or damage your plumbing system.

Prevent Future Clogs
An abundance of toilet paper in a toilet bowl,

Toilets are intended only for human waste and toilet paper.

  • Don’t flush products that are not intended for toilet use.
  • Don’t attempt to flush too much toilet paper. Flush in increments if a significant amount of paper is necessary.
  • Make sure that children in the household know to keep toys and other items out of the toilet.

Ready to find the plungers and drain opener supplies you need in your local store? Use The Home Depot app to locate products and check inventory. We'll take you to the exact aisle and bay. For tough jobs, consider renting drain cleaning equipment such as plumbing snakes and toilet augers from The Home Depot's Tool Rental Center.