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How To Unblock A Toilet 

November 09, 2018
How To Unblock A Toilet

It's a sinking feeling indeed when your toilet won't empty it's bowels despite your frantic flushing. Whether you're at your own home or in someone else's, it's something you'll want a quick fix for.

First Steps

Tip: Cover your floor with newspaper before starting anything to make any messes easier to clean up!

Find Out What's Causing It

This might seem obvious, but it will help you get an understanding of the best solution. Is it something that shouldn't be there, like a children's toy? Or maybe something that seems like it could be flushable, but isn't, like a tampon or paper towel? These kinds of obstructions suggest there's nothing wrong with the flushing mechanism of the toilet, it's simply necessary to get the, out.

On the other hand, if it's a normal amount of toilet paper, it might be something deeper down and may require chemical removal.

If the toilet doesn't flush after the first try, and fills up with water, don't flush again. You will risk the toilet overflowing, which is a much bigger problem than it not flushing!

How To Stop Your Toilet From Overflowing Illustration

Check The Cistern

Is the toilet actually flushing properly? You can lift the lid of your cistern to check if it's refilling with water when you try to flush. This could be an issue of the water being out in your building, or the flushing mechanism of the toilet itself.

To stop the toilet from overflowing, take off the lid of the toilet and reach inside and you'll find a circular drain plug attached to a chain. Press it down and make sure it's closed. This is the flapper and it will stop any more water entering the cistern.

How To Unblock A Toilet With A Plunger

What Plunger To Use

The simple cup shaped plunger that most of us have at home isn't in fact the best man for the job. Those plungers are made for unclogging sinks and smaller drains.

The right plunger for toilets (and the best all-round plunger for at home) is actually a flange plunger. It still has the cup shape, but also has a flap around the outside that creates a shape somewhat like a fishes mouth, or if a plunger at a rubber sock around it.

How To Unblock A Toilet With A Plunger Illustration

How To Use A Plunger Correctly.

  • Plunge straight down, don't angle the plunger
  • Ensure the lips of the plunger are around the drain whole, creating a seal around the drain.
  • Make sure the plunger is completely covered. If there isn't enough in the toilet to completely submerge it, add water.
  • Press the plunger down into the bowl, and slowly apply pressure until there is no more air left in the suction cup. This will create the tightest seal possible.
  • Pull the plunger back up, without breaking the seal, then press back down again. Repeat this 5-10 times with some rhythm, to create a motion of alternating compression and suction. It may take up to 20 pushes!
  • Once you see the water start draining, pull the plunger out vigorously on the final thrust.
  • Unplug the flapper in the cistern, and flush the toilet to see if it's still blocked.
  • If it doesn't work, keep plunging!

How To Unblock A Toilet Without A Plunger

Method 1: Brute Force

There are several methods which have similar effects.

Mop or Toilet Brush

  • Take a mop or toilet brush, and wrap the head with a garbage bag.
  • Plunge the end of the mop or brush (the bristly end), into the toilet and use like a regular plunger

How To Unblock A Toilet With A Coathanger Illustration

Coat Hanger

  • This method works well if there is a specific obstruction in the first few centimeters of your drain
  • Take a wire coat hanger and unravel or cut it to form a single length of wire
  • Wrap the end of the wire with a rag and then wrap with duct tape. This is to avoid scratching the enamel of your toilet.
  • Push the wire with the taped end first into the toilet, manoeuvring and twisting it to get it down the S bend
  • Push until you feel the obstruction. From there wriggle the wire until the obstruction comes loose.
  • If you can't feel an obstruction or are unable to un-lodge it you may have to try another method or call a plumber.

Method 2: Chemical Removal

Hot Water and Dish Soap

  • Splash a decent amount of dish soap into the bowl of the toilet (but not too much to create a sudsy mess!)
  • Pour boiling water into the bowl until the toilet starts to unclog
  • The pressure of the water and the suds from the soap should unlodge the mess
  • If nothing happens, stop pouring the water to avoid the toilet overflowing

How To Unblock Your Toilet With Bicarbonate Soda Illustration

Baking Soda and Vinegar

  • Pour 1 cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl, followed by 1 cup of bicarbonate soda
  • Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before pouring hot water from a kettle into the bowl

Chemical Drain Cleaner

  • The next step is a chemical drain cleaner, which will act to dissolve the obstruction. You can purchase the drain cleaner at any home improvement store.
  • Follow the instructions on the container. It will typically instruct you to wait over night.

Method 3: Elbow Grease

This is by far the least glamorous, but can save lots of time and fiddling around. Glove up, and stick your hands into the toilet to see what's going on. If you can feel the obstruction, pull it out and dispose of it safely.

Pro tip: Wear gloves on both hands and cover each arm with a garbage bag that reaches to your shoulders. You never know how far you'll have to go!


We hope you found this article helpful. If you're toilet is constantly getting blocked, it may be time for an upgrade. Check out our range of toilets and toilet accessories here.


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