Save yourself from any toilet trauma with these tips.
Let’s say you’re a person who’s known for their devotion to extreme cleanliness—especially in the bathroom. You know your way around cleaning an air duct; you’re an expert on how to get bathroom grout pristine; you even mop your bathroom floors with castile soap! Now imagine anything more embarrassing than clogging a toilet and having no plunger. Think about it—there you are in a restaurant bathroom, using a friend’s commode, or even sitting in your very own rustic bathroom, taking care of business, when the toilet suddenly clogs, and there’s nary a plunger in sight. Panic sets in and you begin to wonder: Will the toilet overflow? Will it stay clogged forever? How long can I hide in here without arousing suspicion? It’s not a good feeling, people.
Before you consider jumping out of a second-story bathroom window or start exercising your potty mouth, know that you actually can flush your way out of this toilet travesty, sans plunger. (However, if you’re using a public restroom, you might just need to cut your losses.) Most at-home toilets can easily be fixed in a jiffy with a bit of elbow grease and a few ordinary items. Sometimes you can even wait it out and hope for the best—some toilet backups actually fix themselves, thanks to a little time and a lot of gravity. But when time is of the essence, here’s how to unclog a toilet without a plunger.
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 Plumbing 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
Any bath bombs or Epsom salts lying around can be worth sacrificing for the cause. Place 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 waiting to come to your rescue. Essentially, use the cleaning wand just as you would a plunger, diving deep 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, and have cleaning supplies handy to clean up the 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 shopping list (or your friend’s) in case of future emergencies?