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How to Unblock a Toilet – 5 Best Methods

We all know the frustration of having a blocked toilet in your home but what are the best ways to unblock a toilet and how do you do it? In this article we explain some of the best methods to unblock a toilet, most of which are ways of unblocking a toilet without a plunger. We will discuss their their pros and cons too!

As experts in water damage management and leak detection, including plumbing leaks (which can include toilet leaks) we come across toilets and waste water pipes a lot in our line of work.

Unblock a Toilet
Unblock a Toilet – Methods

Before we go into the various methods to unblock a toilet, it is important to remember two things about taking care when doing this. Firstly, remember that toilet water is unsanitary and unpleasant so be careful and wear PPE such as gloves, face masks and even eye protection (goggles or glasses) to protect from splashes etc.

Secondly, take care and do not be too forceful when trying to unblock a toilet as you can do more harm than good. In particular, using too much force can cause breakages or disconnections in sewage pipes which, as you might expect can make a bad situation worse!

One of the services we offer is biohazard cleaning, which can involve cleaning up sewage.

Unblock Toilet
Unblock Toilet – Ways to do it

Unblocking a Toilet Without Using a Plunger

We’re now going to go through each of the methods to consider when looking to unblock, the first 4 of which do not need a plunger, to clear a toilet and we will start with one that people might not initially think about!

Unblock a Toilet - Time
Unblock a Toilet – Taking Time

1. Give it Time to Unblock

This is often overlooked when unblocking a toilet, especially if you have just blocked it, give it time to dissipate naturally. When you think about what the two most common things that are likely to be blocking a toilet (toilet roll and ‘number 2s’) both will soften and loosen in time in the water they are surrounded by.

Especially if you have other toilets to use, giving it time will work often. Leave the blocked toilet water to drain away slowly over an hour or two then try to flush the toilet again and see if the blockage is cleared easily. Repeat this a few times over a few hours and, on many occasions, it will work to clear the toilet blockage.

Unblock Toilet with Washing Up Liquid
Unblocking a Toilet with Washing Up Liquid

2. Unblock Toilet with Washing Up Liquid

Before we go onto how you might unblock a toilet with washing up liquid, it can actually be used in conjunction with the previous method above. After a couple of attempts without watching up liquid put a few squeezes or drops into the bowl (not too much as you don’t want bubbles overflowing!) then flush.

The washing up liquid can help to loosen up the blockage and act as a but of a lubricant to help smooth the flow of the blockage. If you are careful with bubbling-up you can increase the concentration. Then, if the water level is dropping slowly but the blockage is not clearing on to the next way of using washing up liquid.

Get a bucket and fill it up with warm water, in which you add washing up liquid. Make sure it’s mixed in then, if the water level is low enough, pour the warm water in and (again) give it time to take effect clearing the blocked toilet.

Unblock Toilet with Hands
Unblock Toilet using Hands (with extras)

3. Unblock a Toilet with Protected Hands (and more)

Feel free to go on to the next thing on this list if you are not comfortable using your hands, even if they have protection. But that said, given that quite often a toilet blockage can often be near to the bottom of the bowl, adjacent to the U-bend, manual intervention can help.

Clearly, make sure you are using precautions like we said earlier, and that you have gloves long enough to protect your arms and clothing from the toilet water. Sometimes people put their arms inside a bin-bag too, so long as it is waterproof and has no holes!

Once you have those things prepped, then with your hand inside the protection, loosen up the blockage carefully and see if it clears it either immediately or, going back to number 1, over time. Obviously take care with your hands and wash the gloves or, if you prefer, dispose of them.

If that doesn’t work, on to the next way of how to unblock a toilet.

Unblock Toilet with Plumbing Snake
Unblock Toilet with Plumbing Snake

4. Unblock a Toilet with a Plumbing Snake

A plumbing snake comes in various shapes and sizes and are sometimes known as plumbers snakes, drain snakes or drain unblockers. They are bendy and flexible and designed to go around bends in pipes, including u-bends on toilets and, used carefully and correctly, can help to unblock a toilet.

Some people suggest unblocking a toilet with a coat hanger (a wire one unravelled) or with bent wire. We wouldn’t advise that as a plumbers snake, which can be purchased for just a few pounds online is much better suited to the job. These can help with teasing out the blockage in the toilet to get the water flowing again.

The downside to this is that it can be fiddly and a bit messy, especially after when the plumbers snake needs cleaning but many will consider that a small price to pay for an unblocked toilet.

Unblock Toilet with Plunger
Unblock a Toilet with a Plunger

5. Unblock a Toilet with a Plunger

Last but no least on our list of 5 ways to unblock a toilet is the traditional plunger. That said, in recent years there are different more modern versions which are a remake of the original style of rubber plunger (like those seen on the right above). Either way, they work on the similar principles.

When using a plunger to clear a toilet it is important, like the other methods to take care and have personal protective equipment (PPE) too. Secondly, you need to make sure the plunger is one for toilets not smaller ones for clearing plugholes on sinks.

Plus, when using a plunger be aware of not being too forceful as you do not want to put too much pressure on the waste pipe and connections which could cause them to break and leak. After you’ve made the seal over the toilet hole, start gently plunging backwards and forwards / up and down, checking regularly to see if the movement has cleared the blockage.

Unblocked Toilet
Unblocked Toilet Bowl

If these methods do not work for you then consider getting professional help. We have talked about blockages in toilets themselves but, in some instances you may have a blockage in your sewage pipes which is another issue all together and potentially more complicated and difficult to deal with.

There are other methods to unblock a toilet that people sometimes recommend but we don’t advise them. One of those is using caustic soda to unblock a toilet, or other chemicals. Caustic soda is a strong chemical which carries risks and there are safer solutions to unblock your toilet, like above, if done carefully and correctly.

On a related subject, see our article about understanding hazard symbols and their meaning.

Unblock a Toilet – Top Tip
“Something to be very wary of and careful about when going about the task of unblocking a toilet is to make sure you don’t keep flushing when the toilet bowl is full as you could cause the water to overflow on your floor, causing a much bigger problem for you

Leak Detection Team

What Causes a Toilet to Block?

There are a number of things that can cause a toilet to block:

  1. Trying to flush too much down the toilet
  2. A toilet becoming blocked over time
  3. People flushing things that are not flushable
  4. Something else blocking the toilet accidentally
  5. A block further down your drains
  6. Decay and breakages of old toilets and plumbing

Unblock a Toilet – Related Articles

Here are a few other posts related how you unblock a toilet:

Rainbow Restoration Leak Detection
Rainbow Restoration – Leak Detection

Here is a useful article explaining more about our services as a water leak detection company.

We are experts in dealing with flood water damage for people in the York and Yorkshire Coast area, so if you have been flooded, please contact our friendly team to arrange for help and guidance. We also deal with Yorkshire water leaks in local homes and businesses. Here are the local areas we cover.

At Rainbow Restoration – York & Yorkshire Coast we are experts in Leak Detection, including Commercial Leak Detection and also Water Damage Restoration, so if you need help finding a water leak or getting your property back to normal after a water damage or a flood, get in touch with our friendly local team who will be happy to help you with this. We are based in York and help find water leaks in York.

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Leak Detection Logo

Will a blocked toilet eventually unblock itself?

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Yes, many of the times you have a blockage on your toilet, it will eventually unblock itself as the things causing the blockage (usually toilet paper and sewage) dissipate and free themselves up allowing the toilet water to flow when flushed. It can be worth leaving the toilet for a while, especially if you have others to use, before attempting to unblock a toilet yourself, which may not be needed.

How can you unblock a toilet without a plunger?

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Although toilet plungers can be useful to unblock a toilet, on many occasions they may not be needed and there are other methods you can try. The first of which is to allow time for the blockage to clear itself. If that does not work, then you could try warm water and washing up liquid (dish soap), plumbing snakes or long waterproof gloves to use your hands. With all of these methods use care and the right PPE to protect yourself from the potential harms of dealing with toilet water.