It’s something no one wants to deal with: a clogged toilet drain at three in the morning. But letting your toilet sit there, blocked, for hours isn’t exactly healthy because poisonous fumes can evaporate and potentially make you sick.
When you don’t feel like calling a plumber – for whatever reason, like the lateness of the hour – you’ll have to take care of the clogged drain yourself. Even though it won’t be fun, we’ve listed six methods that will teach you how to unclog a toilet drain. Take a look!
1. The good, old-fashioned plunger
Though it might seem obvious, a few minutes of plunging might be all you need to unblock your toilet’s drain. You’ll want to use a bell-shaped plunger instead of a flat one, as the flat ones are used for unblocking sinks rather than toilets. Place the plunger directly over the toilet drain and apply firm suctioning pressure four or five times in a row (without breaking the natural seal caused by the plunger).
Then try to flush the toilet. Chances are that the drain has been unclogged. If not, though, repeat the whole process. If nothing changes after two or three tries, you can go on to the other options in this list.
2. Use a hanger to create a way for waste to drain
First, shut off the water valve inside the back of the toilet. This will prevent the toilet from overflowing as you get to work. Next, find a metal clothes hanger in your house and some pliers. Using the pliers, cut through the wire hanger near the head and straighten out the now cut hanger so that you have a very long, slim metal rod with a hook on the end.
Then poke the hook into the toilet bowl and pull away as much of the obstructing waste as possible. Once there’s a clear channel for the water to flow through, plunge the toilet several times. When the drain is completely cleared, flush the toilet a couple times. If you have success, that means you know how to unclog a blocked toilet drain.
3. Utilize chemical cleaners
Chemical toilet drain cleaners are extremely toxic for humans (and animals) and should be used with absolute care. But they can be powerful agents for good when it comes to clearing out your toilet’s drain.
Simply follow the manufacturers’ instructions as to how the chemical cleaner should be used…and make sure to keep the container far away from children and animals. (You should wear gloves and perhaps even safety goggles when using the cleaner, just to be on the safe side.)
4. Try a plumbing snake
The plumbing snake is used in a similar way to the wire clothes hanger, but it can be even less damaging for your toilet bowl. (Of course, the hanger is probably more accessible to you so there’s that to consider.)
Buy a plumber’s snake and then feed it into the toilet bowl and down the drain until you come to the blockage. Once you hit that, push, twist, and weave the snake through the obstruction as best you can. If used properly, the snake will break up the waste and then you can work on plunging and flushing the toilet to fully clean it out.
5. Use homemade toilet drain cleaner
Remember how bad chemical cleaners can be for you? Well, if you don’t want to take that risk, consider making your own cleaner for the times when your toilet drain is clogged. The ingredients are far gentler and can work just as well.
First, you’ll want to boil a full kettle of water. Perhaps five or six cups. Then, once the water is finished boiling pour at least a cup of baking soda and twice as much vinegar down your toilet. The natural chemical reaction between these two elements can break up some of the toughest of obstructions.
Once you’ve given the water a few moments to cool (still-boiling water can damage your toilet bowl) pour it down your toilet drain. Let the whole thing sit for a day or overnight – when you check it again, it will hopefully have cleared. If not, there may be a foreign object stuck down your toilet that you’ll need a plumber to remove.
6. Use a wet/dry vacuum
Not many people have a water vacuum just lying around their home (if you do though, that’s great!). When your toilet drain is clogged and nothing else has really helped, borrow, rent, or buy a water vacuum to (hopefully) do the job.
You’ll want to vacuum all the water from the toilet and then work on removing whatever is obstructing the toilet drain (usually by vacuuming that as well). If simple vacuuming does not remove the obstruction, wrap a rag around the vacuum hose and press down to create a seal (similar in concept to a plunger) as you vacuum the waste.