How to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger

Five tricks worth trying if you're ever faced with this nightmare scenario.

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How to unclog a toilet without a plunger - hand flushing toilet
Photo: Jo Panuwat D /

How to unclog a toilet without a plunger

We’ve all been there. The toilet is clogged and you can’t find your trusty (and probably crusty) plunger. No sweat! These hacks will help you unclog a toilet without a plunger, whether you lost it, refuse to touch it, or are looking to live a plunger-free life.

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Dish soap bottle open
Photo: Tara Lynn Sparks /

Start with dish soap

As soon as the toilet clogs, head to the kitchen and fetch some dish soap; the slippery soap should help lubricate the clogged pipe and allow the lodged debris to slide down more easily. Pour about a half-cup into the toilet. If you haven’t got any dish soap on hand, chop bar soap into small chunks and drop the pieces into the toilet.

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How to unclog a toilet without a plunger - hot water faucet
Photo: nikkytok /

Add hot water

If dish soap alone doesn’t do the trick, adding water might move things along. Fill a bucket with hot bath water (boiling water could cause a porcelain toilet to crack), and pour the water into the toilet from waist level. The force of the water could dislodge whatever is causing the clog.

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Wire hangers
Photo: Jelena990 /

Create a DIY drain snake

Disclaimer: right before you Googled “how to unclog a toilet without a plunger,” you probably should have determined what is causing this blockage. A more severe blockage could require manually moving the item. To do this, unravel a wire coat hanger until it’s straight. Push one end of the wire into the clogged area. Prod the debris until it becomes free and flows down the drain.

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Baking soda, vinegar and lemon
Photo: New Africa /

Try this mixture

As an alternative to using dish soap, try this all-natural solution: Pour one cup baking soda and two cups vinegar into the toilet. Allow it to fizz for a half hour. If the clog doesn’t dissipate, try the hot water trick.

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Empty plastic water bottle
Photo: Somchai Saosiri /

Use a plastic bottle to create water pressure

Warning: This trick could get messy, but it’s worth trying when you desperately need to unclog a toilet without a plunger. Start by putting on rubber gloves, then remove as much water from the toilet bowl as possible (you can do this by repeatedly filling a small container with toilet water and pouring the water into a bucket). Next, fill a large plastic bottle with warm water. Place your thumb over the top of the bottle, and fit the top end of the bottle into the outlet at the bottom of the toilet. Remove your thumb and squeeze the bottle so the water inside shoots down the pipe. The added pressure could dislodge whatever was causing the clog.

Now that you know how to unclog a toilet without a plunger, discover 10 bathroom cleaning tricks you’ll wish you’d known sooner.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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