Few things are more annoying than a blocked toilet – but a blocked toilet where you don’t have a plunger to hand is definitely top of the annoyance list. This situation usually happens:
- on holiday, when you don’t know the plumbing and don’t have the necessary tools to hand
- late at night, when you know that a plumber won’t show up until the morning and you just can’t wait.
Begin by collecting a few household items that will help you unblock your toilet. Some of these may surprise you but our toilet unblocking hacks will change your mind about certain household items for good. Start by finding:
- Rubber gloves
- Old newspapers
- A bucket
- Washing up liquid
- An empty plastic bottle
- A coat hanger
- Baking soda and vinegar
- Cling film.
Cling film is one surprising way to unblock a clogged toilet
This toilet clearing measure has a mixed reputation. It seems to depend on the water pressure in your toilet system – so if you have high pressure, this works really well, but if you have low water pressure then it’s often ineffective. Because it’s a low invasive method it’s often a really good one to start with.
Make sure the surface of your toilet is dry, using an old towel. Cover your toilet bowl with three layers of cling film, ensuring that the whole area is covered and you have pressed the cling film firmly down onto the porcelain, to make a good seal. When you flush the toilet, you should find that the cling film will balloon upwards as a result of the pressure of the flush. Push down slowly on the raised clingfilm to reverse the suction and ease the blockage down into the main drain.
How to unblock your toilet without a plunger
Begin by putting down newspaper around the toilet to catch any spills or splashes and pulling on your rubber gloves. The first attempt to unblock your toilet without a plunger should be ordinary washing up liquid. Pour around half a mug-full into the toilet, dripping it around the bowl so that it forms a ring around the waterline and then criss-crossing the water itself. Leave for half an hour to dissolve the clog somewhat and then fill your bucket with hot water and pour it into the toilet from about waist height – the force of the water will help to dislodge the blockage. Leave for a further ten minutes and then flush. With any luck, this will completely remove the blockage. However, even if it doesn’t dissolve whatever it was that clogged the toilet, watch out for the water level dropping. If that happens, repeat the process again with the washing liquid and hot water and you should find that it dislodges the rest of the obstruction.
To ensure the material that has clogged the toilet is completely dispersed, immediately put a mugful of baking soda and two mugfuls of vinegar into the toilet bowl. Let this bubble away for at least thirty minutes to break up any remaining material that is clinging to the sides of the toilet and then flush again.
How to unblock a full toilet without a plunger – use a plastic bottle
There is one level of unpleasantness worse than having a blocked toilet and no plunger, and that’s having a blocked ‘full’ toilet and no plunger. Honestly, this can become a little messy, but it’s often very effective. You need to begin by putting on those rubber gloves and some old clothes and making sure your newspaper is in place. To make this work you need to bail some of the water out of the toilet, you can do this using a small (and disposable!) container you use to extract water and pour it into the sink or a bucket. When you’ve removed a degree of water so that you can get your hand into the toilet bowl without causing water to slop over the side, take a large plastic bottle and cut the bottom off. Either replace the lid or put your thumb over the top to create a vacuum. If your thumb isn’t big enough to cover the neck completely, use some cling film and an elastic band to create a seal that operates like the lid. Now push the open end of the bottle into the toilet bowl and plunge it up and down vigorously, ensuring that it remains completely under the water. This creates a vacuum within the pipe that actually sucks the blockage back into the main drain.
Unclogging your blocked toilet with a coat hanger
While this is one of the easiest ways to unblock a toilet, it’s also one of the systems that often has only partial success so it should be used in conjunction with the washing up liquid system or the plastic bottle system to ensure complete removal of the obstruction rather than just poking a hole in it, which leaves it to re-clog again.
Unwind a wire coat hanger until it’s straight. Bend one end back up to form a U shape and use this end to push into the toilet. Push and pull at the obstruction until it begins to break up and flows away down the mains drainage.
Clever hack for a blockage free toilet
One of the easiest ways to keep your toilet clean and obstruction free, is to make your own toilet bombs. You need:
- 300 grams baking soda
- 70 grams citric acid
- A spray bottle filled with water
- Essential oils (optional but they add to the pleasantness)
- A rubber spatula
- Old ice cube tray.
Mix the baking soda and citric acid in a glass bowl. If you have sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to wear gloves during this process. Then mist the blended powders once or twice with water, stirring with the spatula until the mixture starts to come together – you need very little water for this, if it starts to fizz you’ve added too much. Drop in your favourite blend of essential oils: rosemary, peppermint, lemon and bergamot are all popular for their clean fragrance.
Press the mixture into the ice cube tray with the spatula and leave overnight to dry. Store in a large jar in the bathroom, and drop one or two into the toilet bowl last thing at night to fizz away and clear any potential blockages while you sleep.