How To Unclog A Toilet in 3 Ways (Secrets from Expert Plumbers)

by Dan | Last Updated: January 18, 2021

A clogged toilet is among the most dreaded occurrences in most homes. It happened at least once to all of us, toilet fills up with water then slowly drains, that usually means that you have a clog. But what causes more worries is when everybody else looks up to you to address that ordeal. Luckily, most clogging problems are due to common blockages and plumbing defects and can be easily dealt with.

Here, we’ll show you how to unclog a toilet like a plumber. And since no one wants to do it every other day, we also have some helpful tips on how to prevent your toilet from future clogs.

First test for a clog!

Whenever there is a distress call about a clogged toilet, the obvious thing to do is to unleash the plunger. However, as any experienced handyman will tell you, the wisest thing to do is to remain cool, and test just how bad the clog is. This is another way of saying that you need a game plan.

If the drainage is partially plugged, a few flushes might be all that you need. Toilets, for instance, the Toto CST454CEFG-01 Drake II that has powerful Double Cyclone flushing technology might be able to pull through a slow-drain clog with a few plunges.

Be cautious though!

A toilet drain that is completely plunged could cause an overflow and flood your floor. You can tell if a system is completely plunged if the water takes close to 10 minutes to fall to the normal level.
So, remove the tank cover and slowly lift the flapper to release a small of water into the bowl. Inspect it to find out how long it takes for the water level to fall.
If you suspect that what you have is a completely clogged toilet, don’t flush but reach for the plunger.

1. Unclog A Toilet Using A Plunger

toilet plunger plumber

Rod, a technician at Roto-Rooters, says that the main reason why most people dread unclogging a toilet is that they use the wrong plungers, in the wrong way.

Plungers come in 3 types:

Cup plungers work best on flat surfaces such as sinks and bathtubs.

On the other hand, flange and accordion plungers are your best bet when dealing with a clogged toilet. These models have an extension at the bottom: the flange.

How to unclog the toilet using a plunger in 5 easy steps:

  • Step 1: Cover the floor surrounding the toilet with old towels/rugs to protect it from splashes from the bowl.
  • Step 2: Ensure that the bowl is half-full. You might want to empty excess water into a bucket if it is full or add some more if it is almost empty. This will help create a good seal.
  • Step 3: Warm up the plunger
    If you are really desperate to get things right, then you need to do the right thing right off the bat. The essence of warming up the plunger is to soften the rubber. You can do this by running it through a hot water faucet. Soft rubber creates the best seal on the bowl than stiff rubber.
  • Step 4: Plunge correctly
    To do this, you need to give the plunger good downward pushes. Importantly, the pullbacks should also have enough oomph as the downward thrusts.
  • Step 5: Check to see the progress
    After 15-20 strokes, use a bucket to add water to the bowl and inspect how it flows. The water should clear fast if the obstruction has been dislodged successfully.

However, if there’s an overflow still, this means that the clog is hard. At this point, reach for the auger.

Secret Plunging Tips

  • To prevent blowing toilet water all over your face and your bathroom floor, always start gently and increase the speed of the strokes.
  • Don’t break the seal – make sure that there is enough water in the bowl throughout the process. This ensures that the break is not broken and boosts your odds of unclogging the drain in a few attempts.
  • Alternate between powerful thrusts and steady strokes.

If you don’t have a plunger available, check out this video from youtube for an alternative method

2. Unclog a Toilet Using Augers


toilet auger or snake

Also known as a snake, a toilet auger is a long wire that goes down the drain to dislodge clogs that a plunger fails to outdo. If you don’t have one yet, the Ridgid 59797 K-6 is a good recommendation. You could also find some inexpensive models from the hardware store near you.

How to unclog a toilet using a snake:

3. Unclog a Toilet Using Liquid Plumr

[easyazon_link identifier=”B002XK5QU4″ locale=”US” tag=”toptoilets-20″]Liquid Plumr[/easyazon_link] (spelled this way on purpose) is a brand name. However, most people today use it to refer to any chemical that is used to work on soap and organic matter (food and grease) that cause clogging in drains. For the record, [easyazon_link identifier=”B00MV8MWEQ” locale=”US” tag=”toptoilets-20″]Drano[/easyazon_link] is yet another brand. Its hard to tell which one is the best liquid drain cleaner on the market, but we think that Liquid Plumr is one of the best unclogger out there.

Liquid Plumr has sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite as its key active ingredients. When you pour this solution into the bowl, it reacts with water to form corrosive, heat-releasing mixture.

As it travels down the drain, it breaks down soap, scum, food, hair, grease, and other blockages. Liquid Plumr takes utmost 15 minutes to complete. However, this may vary depending on the brand. So, follow the manufacturer’s direction.

Later, plunge your toilet correctly and pour water using a bucket to check out the results.

Call the Plumber

Plumber Joe

If none of the above techniques works, the chances are that you have a mega clogging problem that might require a plumber.


Unclogging a toilet isn’t fun at all. As such, it’s always important to avert its occurrence in the first place.

First, you might want to teach your kids to hide their toys anywhere else but not in the toilet bowl and that getting the toilet clogged with toilet paper isn’t a good thing either.

Secondly, always address minute toilet issues such as poor and incomplete flushes with urgency.

Lastly, remember that frequent clogs are messages from your old toilet that it’s time for a replacement. If you are not sure where to start, our detailed guide on how to buy a toilet might be come in handy.

Dan is the editor in chief and founder of this site, after running into troubles with his own old toilet a while ago. Discussing toilets is not your everyday topic, so let’s talk toilets today.