Oh dear, a blocked toilet. I’m sure that we have all done it at some point. Too much paper, your kids flushing toys or something else entirely. Don’t worry though, a blocked toilet is nothing more than a minor inconvenience that can be rectified quickly and easily with things you likely have close by. In this article, we’ll explain how to unblock a toilet, including step-by-step instructions and tips for preventing future blockages. We’ll also answer some common questions about toilet blockages, such as what household products can be used to unblock a toilet, whether a toilet will naturally unclog overnight, and whether washing up liquid is effective in unblocking a toilet.

Using a Plunger to Unblock a Toilet

How Do Toilets Get Blocked?

Toilets can become blocked for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes of toilet blockages include:

1. Flushing Inappropriate Items

One of the most common causes of toilet blockages is flushing inappropriate items down the toilet. Items such as paper towels, sanitary products, baby wipes, and cotton swabs should never be flushed down the toilet, as they can easily become trapped in the pipes and cause blockages.

2. Hard Water

Hard water can cause mineral build-up in your toilet’s pipes over time, which can lead to blockages. This is especially common in areas with high levels of mineral content in the water supply.

3. Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure can make it difficult for waste to be flushed away from the toilet bowl, which can lead to blockages.

4. Old or Damaged Pipes

Over time, the pipes in your toilet can become corroded or damaged, which can cause blockages to occur more frequently.

5. Incorrect Installation

If your toilet isn’t installed correctly, it may be more prone to blockages. For example, if the trap (the U-shaped bend in the pipe that prevents sewer gas from entering your home) is too small or at the wrong angle, it can easily become blocked.

By understanding the common causes of toilet blockages, you can take steps to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This includes avoiding flushing inappropriate items down the toilet, having your pipes inspected and cleaned regularly, and ensuring that your toilet is installed correctly.

5 Ways to Unblock a Toilet

1. Plunger

A plunger is a common household item used to unblock a toilet. The suction created by the plunger can help to dislodge the blockage and allow it to be flushed away. Plunging requires creating a seal between the plunger and the toilet bowl and then using a pumping motion to create pressure and suction.

2. Hot Water and Dish Soap

Hot water and dish soap can be used to soften the blockage and make it easier to remove. The dish soap helps to lubricate the blockage while the hot water softens it. Pour a pot of hot water mixed with a few tablespoons of dish soap into the toilet bowl and let it sit for a few minutes before flushing.

3. Baking Soda and Vinegar

A mixture of baking soda and vinegar can be used to dissolve the blockage. The chemical reaction between the two ingredients creates a fizzing action that can break down the blockage.

Pour a cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl followed by a cup of vinegar, let it sit for a few minutes, and then flush.

4. Wire Coat Hanger

A wire coat hanger can be bent and shaped to create a hook that can be inserted into the toilet trap to remove the blockage.

Coat hangers can be especially useful for removing blockages caused by solid objects that can’t be broken down by plunging or dissolving.

5. Epsom Salt

Epsom salt can be used to draw water out of the toilet bowl and increase the water pressure, which can help to dislodge the blockage.

Pour a cup of Epsom salt into the toilet bowl and let it sit for a few minutes before flushing.

How to Unblock a Toilet?

Here are our instructions on how to unblock a toilet using the 5 methods outlined above.

Method 1: Plunger

Plunger for unblocking toilet
Plunger for Unblocking Toilet

Here’s how to use a plunger to unblock a toilet:

  1. Make sure the toilet bowl has enough water to cover the plunger head. If it doesn’t, add some water to the bowl until it’s almost full.
  2. Place the plunger over the toilet drain and press it down firmly to create a seal. Make sure the plunger is centred over the drain.
  3. Use a pumping motion to create pressure and suction. Push down on the plunger and then pull up quickly, repeating the motion several times.
  4. If the blockage is stubborn, you may need to repeat the process several times. Be patient and keep trying until the blockage is dislodged.

Some tips for using a plunger effectively include:

  • Make sure the plunger is completely submerged in water.
  • Don’t push too hard or too fast as this can break the seal and allow air to enter the plunger.
  • Use a plunger with a flange, which can create a better seal and provide more suction.
  • If you’re using a new plunger, soften it by pouring hot water over it before use to make it more pliable and effective.

Using a plunger is often the easiest and quickest way to unblock a toilet. If it doesn’t work, you can try some of the other methods described below.

Method 2: Hot Water and Dish Soap

Soapy water for unblocking toilet
Soapy Water for Unblocking a Toilet

Here’s how to use hot water and dish soap to unblock a toilet:

  1. Heat a pot of water on the stove or in the microwave until it’s almost boiling.
  2. Add a few tablespoons of dish soap to the hot water and stir until it’s well mixed.
  3. Pour the hot water and dish soap mixture into the toilet bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. The heat and soap will help to soften the blockage and make it easier to remove.
  4. After a few minutes, try flushing the toilet. If the blockage has been dislodged, the water should flow freely down the drain.
  5. If the blockage is still there, repeat the process several times until it’s removed.

Some tips for using hot water and dish soap effectively include:

  • Make sure the water is hot but not boiling as boiling water can crack the porcelain of the toilet bowl.
  • Be careful when handling hot water and wear gloves to protect your hands.
  • If you don’t have dish soap, you can also use shampoo or a similar product that’s designed to break down grease and oil.

Using hot water and dish soap is a safe and effective method for unblocking a toilet. It’s also a good option if you don’t have a plunger or don’t want to use one.

Method 3: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar for unblocking toilet
Baking Soda and Vinegar for Unblocking Toilet

Here’s how to use baking soda and vinegar to unblock a toilet:

  1. Pour one cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl.
  2. Slowly add two cups of vinegar to the bowl. The mixture will fizz and bubble, which is the chemical reaction that helps to break down the blockage.
  3. Let the mixture sit in the bowl for at least 30 minutes. The longer you let it sit, the more effective it will be.
  4. After 30 minutes, pour hot water into the toilet bowl and flush. The hot water will help to clear away any remaining blockage.
  5. If the blockage is still there, repeat the process several times until it’s removed.

Some tips for using baking soda and vinegar effectively include:

  • Be careful when handling vinegar as it can be corrosive. Wear gloves to protect your hands.
  • If you don’t have baking soda, you can also use salt as a substitute.

Using baking soda and vinegar is a natural and effective method for unblocking a toilet. It’s also a good option if you prefer to use natural cleaning products instead of chemicals.

Method 4: Wire Coat Hanger

Wire coathanger for unblocking toilet
Wire Coat Hanger for Unblocking Toilet

Here’s how to use a wire coat hanger to unblock a toilet:

  1. Straighten out a wire coat hanger so that it’s a long, straight piece of wire.
  2. Put on gloves and insert the end of the wire hanger into the toilet bowl.
  3. Wiggle the wire hanger back and forth to break apart the blockage. Be careful not to scratch the inside of the toilet bowl.
  4. Once the blockage is broken apart, flush the toilet to remove the pieces.
  5. If the blockage is still there, repeat the process until it’s removed.

Some tips for using a wire coat hanger effectively include:

  • Be careful not to scratch the inside of the toilet bowl with the wire hanger.
  • Use gloves to protect your hands from any bacteria or germs that may be present.
  • Only use a wire coat hanger as a last resort if other methods have failed to unblock the toilet.

Using a wire coat hanger to unblock a toilet is a manual method that requires some effort and caution. However, it can be effective if other methods have failed or if you don’t have any other tools available.

Method 5: Epsom Salts

Epsom Salt for unblocking toilet
Epsom Salt for Unblocking Toilet

Here’s how to use Epsom salt to unblock a toilet:

  1. Gather your materials: You’ll need a cup of Epsom salt and a bucket of hot water.
  2. Add the Epsom salt: Pour the cup of Epsom salt directly into the toilet bowl.
  3. Wait: Let the Epsom salt sit in the bowl for at least 30 minutes. During this time, the salt will dissolve and create a bubbling effect.
  4. Pour hot water: After 30 minutes, carefully pour the bucket of hot water into the toilet bowl. The hot water will help flush out the blockage.
  5. Repeat if necessary: If the toilet is still not unblocked, repeat the process again.

Tips for using Epsom salt effectively:

  • Use hot water: Hot water helps to dissolve the Epsom salt and flush out the blockage. Be careful not to use boiling water, as this can crack the porcelain bowl.
  • Use enough Epsom salt: Use a full cup of Epsom salt to ensure that you create enough of a bubbling effect to break up the blockage.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes: The longer you wait, the more effective the Epsom salt will be at breaking up the blockage.
  • Repeat if necessary: If the toilet is still not unblocked after one attempt, repeat the process again.

Using a plunger is often the easiest and quickest way to unblock a toilet. If it doesn’t work, you can try some of the other methods described below.

Things that Should Never be Flushed Down a Toilet?

Here’s a list of things that should never be flushed down a toilet as they can cause blockages:

Baby Wipes and Wet Wipes

Even if the packaging says they’re flushable, wipes can still cause blockages.

Feminine Hygiene Products

Tampons and pads should always be disposed of in the trash, not the toilet.

Cotton Swabs and Cotton Balls

These items can easily get caught in the pipes and cause blockages.

Dental Floss

Floss can get tangled around other debris in the pipes, causing a blockage.

Condoms

Condoms are not biodegradable and can get caught in the pipes, causing a blockage.

Grease and Fat

Pouring grease and fat down the drain can cause it to solidify and create a blockage.

Food Waste

Large food items or even small particles of food can accumulate in the pipes and cause a blockage.

Hair

Hair can easily get caught in the pipes and cause a blockage.

Medications

Flushing medication down the toilet can cause pollution to the environment and harm aquatic life.

Cigarette Butts

Cigarette butts contain harmful chemicals that can contaminate the water supply and should never be flushed down the toilet.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a blocked toilet can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience, but there are several effective methods for unblocking it using common household items. The most common methods include using a plunger, a combination of baking soda and vinegar, using hot water and dish soap, a wire hanger, and Epsom salt. However, prevention is always better than cure, and it’s important to remember that there are several things that should never be flushed down a toilet to avoid causing a blockage. By taking proper precautions and using these effective methods, you can easily unblock a toilet and avoid the hassle and expense of calling a plumber.

5 Ways to Unblock a Toilet Infographic

Plumbing Wizard Tips

“Don’t be too forceful when using a plunger. Apply gentle pressure to create suction and work the blockage through the pipes but avoid using excessive force as this can damage the toilet or pipes!”

“When using the baking soda and vinegar method, be sure to pour the hot water slowly and carefully to avoid splashing or overflowing the toilet bowl!”

“If using a wire hanger to unblock the toilet, be careful not to scratch the porcelain of the toilet bowl or damage the pipes. Use gentle, steady pressure to work the blockage through the pipes!”

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you unblock a badly blocked toilet?

You can unblock a badly blocked toilet using a plunger or a wire hanger.

What is the fastest way to unclog a toilet?

The fastest way to unclog a toilet is by using a plunger.

Does washing up liquid unblock a toilet?

Washing up liquid can help to lubricate the pipes and make it easier to move the blockage, but it is not always effective in unblocking a toilet.

How do you unclog a toilet in 5 minutes?

You can unclog a toilet in 5 minutes by using a plunger or wire coat hanger method.

Will a toilet unclog overnight?

It is possible for a toilet to unclog overnight if the blockage is not too severe. However, it is recommended to take action to unblock the toilet as soon as possible.

What is the best liquid to unblock a toilet?

Baking soda and vinegar can be an effective mixture to unblock a toilet.

How do you unblock a toilet like a plumber?

To unblock a toilet like a plumber, use a closet auger or snake to clear the blockage manually from the pipes.

What household products unblock toilets?

A plunger, wire coat hanger, baking soda and vinegar, and Epsom salt are all household products that can be used to unblock a toilet.


Author

Lee Pearce is not just a master plumber; he’s a veritable Plumbing Wizard. With over 30 years of experience in the trenches of pipes and drains, Lee has become the go-to sage for DIY plumbing, saving homeowners thousands in potential call-out charges. As the founder of Plumbing Wizard, he’s dedicated to demystifying the complexities of home plumbing, offering easy-to-follow advice that stands the test of time and pressure. His online blog is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and tutorials that empower everyday individuals to take charge of their home’s plumbing health. Lee’s practical wisdom is not just about fixing leaks; it’s about imparting confidence and self-reliance. When he’s not writing or elbow-deep in a plumbing project, Lee is passionate about educating the next generation of DIYers, ensuring that practical skills are passed down and preserved.


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