It's a real-life horror story that's as embarrassing (and feasible) as it gets—you're in a restaurant bathroom, using a friend's commode, or even sitting on your own porcelain throne when the toilet suddenly clogs...and there's no plunger in sight. Panicked, you search in vain for something, anything to send the cargo straight to the sewers, but turn up empty handed. Your frazzled mind starts to wander: Will the toilet overflow? Will it stay clogged forever? How long can I hide in here without arousing suspicion? Oh, the terror!
Before you consider making a swift exit out of the bathroom window or start exercising your potty mouth, know that you actually can flush your way out of this toilet travesty, sans plunger. If you're using a public restroom, you might need to chalk this one up to a lost cause. But any at-home toilet can easily be fixed in a jiffy with a bit of elbow grease and a few on-hand items. Or, you can even just wait it out and hope for the best—some toilet backups can actually fix themselves, thanks to time and gravity. But when that won't cut it, here's how to unclog a toilet without a plunger—because you never know when this clogged conundrum may hit.
What do I need to unclog a toilet without a plunger?
Depending on what you have on hand, you can determine your best course of action—because you can actually go about unclogging your toilet a few different ways. We'll break down each method further, but make sure you have dish soap, a wire hanger, baking soda and vinegar, or even bath bombs to get the job done.
What should I not do?
Avoid flushing repeatedly, especially if the water's already rising. In this instance, so you don't have a clogged toilet and a flooded bathroom floor, remove the tank lid and push down on the flapper, which is the rubber contraption toward the bottom. Next, cut off the toilet's water supply by turning the valve, usually located behind the toilet, and wait for it to reside before you tackle the mess inside.
How can I de-clog my toilet without a plunger?
1. Hot Water
If there's not much liquid left in the toilet bowl to begin with, pour in a bucket or pan of hot (not boiling) water. The force of the water should help break up the clogging culprits. Houselogic also suggests tossing in 1/2 cup of salt prior to the H2O.
2. Dish Soap
No luck with water? Try filling the toilet with a hefty helping of dish soap. The slippery substance can break down solids and guide them down the drain. Give the mixture a bit of time to work its magic and move any bodily...unmentionables...along.
3. Baking Soda and Vinegar
Mr. Rooter Plumber attests to this method, which involves adding a cup of baking soda and vinegar to a half-filled toilet bowl (either add hot water or scoop some out to reach this level). Pour the baking soda first, then slowly apply the vinegar to prevent the mixture from spilling over. Let it soak for about 20 minutes.
4. Epsom Salts
According to Alpha Plumbing, any bath bombs or Epsom salts lying around can be worth sacrificing for the cause. Plop either in the bowl and let the fizziness do its thing for a little while.
5. Wire Hanger
For when something's really jammed in the pipe, a wire hanger can be your saving grace. The closet tool basically works like a toilet snake and brings a more aggressive approach to your bathroom clog. Extend the hanger into a makeshift rod and use it to push around the blockage until it eventually gives.
6. Toilet Brush
There may not be a plunger nearby, but hopefully your friend's home at least has a toilet brush idly waiting to come to your rescue. Essentially, use the cleaning wand just as you would a plunger, diving deep (ick!) into the toilet bowl and thrusting away at the drain hole. You'll probably want to toss the brush after the deed has been done, just saying—and prepare for a bit of a mess.
If all else fails, the situation might be out of your hands and best left to the professionals: plumbers. And might we persuade you to add a plunger to your bathroom by this point, if you don't own one already?