How To Unclog a Toilet

by Dave The Handyman on November 21, 2009

So you have stumbled upon this page because you want to know how to unclog a toilet, and if you found this page by a search engine you more than likely need an answer right this second. Well in many instances I can give you the answer this minute on how to unclog a toilet but you are going to need a toilet plunger, a good plunger, not some rinky dink plunger that will fold up and lose suction after a couple of plunges at the toilet.

So just that we can clarify what kind of plunger it is that you want to be using, I have provided an image of what you will be wanting to use to unclog a toilet.

If you are a cheap ass and invested a couple of dollars into a toilet plunger, it is more than likely not going to get the job done unless you are really good at plunging toilets. Here is an image of a shitty plunger, I call it that because after you are done plunging a shitty toilet all that is left on the plunger and in the toilet is shit because they do not work well, unless you know what you are doing of course, but if you did you would not be reading this in the first place.

Now I used to have a video camera until it was recently stolen, so I will have to borrow a video from our good friend that can show you how to plunge a toilet. Now I am a professional when it comes to this stuff, I have been unclogging toilets every single day for over 3 years, I literally deal with shit everyday at work, it is what I do.

As I had said before I do a shit load of calls about clogged toilets. And I must tell you that I am successful in unclogging them 90% of the time with a plunger, same goes for clogged sinks and clogged bath tubs. This is all assuming that you have a proper sewage drain system where you live. Not everywhere does, even if you are in the United States. Some places dispose of shit and piss into septic tanks, and some city’s are not great about emptying them before they are full, if this is the case, and your septic tank is full, you need to call the city or the plumber or someone with a machine to empty it. But as I said most popular cities in the United States have a good sewage system so the problem of unclogging your toilet will lie in your hands or the plumbers if you must call out one.

Unclogging a Toilet With Dishwasher Soap

Sometimes a couple of spoons of dishwasher soap will be able to help unclog the toilet. What you will want to do is put about 3-4 teaspoons of dishwasher soap into the toilet, then walk away and wait about 5 minutes or so. By that time the soap will have hopefully lubricated the blockage a little bit, now continue to plunge the toilet multiple times. This doesn’t always work, but it is a nice little home recipe to help unclog toilets.

Unclogging a Toilet With a Plumbers Snake/Auger

Where I work and where I am from we call it a snake, others may call it a toilet auger, or a closet auger, which I think is what most plumbers call it, whatever. Anyways we around the apartment complex call it a snake. It is made of steel and coils tightly at 6 feet, with the end designed to remove obstruction from inside of the toilet. The hand ones are commonly made in 3 foot and 6 foot, you should only need 3 feet to clear the pipes in your toilet. Buying a toilet auger is a great investment, as they do a much better job of unclogging toilets then plungers do.

As before I wish I had enough money to replace my lost video camera, but until then I must borrow some more footage from youtube that I approve of and recommend that you watch if you want to know how to unclog a toilet with a plumbers snake……or you can call it an auger.

After the auger/plumbers snake reaches the end of the toilet, the piping gets a little bit bigger and it is much harder to clog, but also much harder to unclog.

If the clog is in the toilet itself a plumbers snake or a plunger should be able to do the trick, by pushing the obstruction, or destroying it, into the main line. Some augers are designed to where they will hook the obstruction that is clogging your toilet, so you will be able to retrieve that which was clogging the toilet in the first place.

Clogs Beyond The Toilet…

This usually requires heavy duty tools such as Rooters, or pneumatic augers that are able to go 25′ down the drain to 100′. These machines are expensive, and unless you are professional plumber, handyman, maintenance technician you really have no need for one unless you have the money to spend on one, or happen to know how to use it and have a lot of friends that clog the main line. The main line to me is anything that is after the toilet, anything that is after the initial drain bend.

When using a Rooter to unclog a toilet you will need to pull the toilet out from the floor, though there are also situations that you will have to get on the roof to run the auger. Check the bottom of the toilet to see if anything is blocking the hole in the toilet first. If there is standing water in the drain pipe directly under the toilet you have a main clog. There are many cases that I have ran into also that roots are blocking the passage in the pipe, sometimes these can be pulled out by hand…(wear a glove)…

Other times the roots break through the main piping further down the drain and will require a Rooter to break them free…This is where the plumbers make bank. If this is the case that you have a main clog you should just call a plumber, or see if Home Depot or Lowes or some other home improvement store will rent you a 25′ plus auger. Not sure if they will as I have not looked into it. Even if you can manage to get your hands on one you need to know how to use it to unlcog your drain, lack of knowledge can lead to bending and permanently kinking the steel coils deeming the auger almost useless…so if the auger starts circling wide instead of going forward, put the machine in nuetral or reverse it and straighten out the cable, you may have to push forward and switch back to neutral several times to get it going forward. If you force it you could damage the cable for good, which cost a couple hundred dollars to replace depending on how long it is.

Common Reasons Why Toilets Get Clogged

Flushing down anything but pee, poop or toilet paper, that is all that you should be putting down a toilet. Here is a small list of things that I commonly pull out of toilets with a plumbers snake.

- Tampons (sewer rats)

- Q-Tips


- Tissue Paper

- Paper Towels

- Condoms

- Cigarette Butts (Yes enough cigarette butts can lead to a toilet clogging up)

- Wet Wipes (Baby Wipes)

- Children Toys

Do not put any of that stuff down a toilet and you should be fine, you should not have to worry about unclogging a toilet if you do not put that crap down the toilet. Some may say that too much toilet paper can clog a toilet, well it can temporarily. But eventually it will dissolve in the water and flush through. This is where the dish washing soap method may help as dish wash soap may help to break down toilet tissue, I have not tried this though myself personally.

I hope that you have found this information on how to unclog a toilet useful, and I am a semi professional plumber as I deal with toilet problems day in and out at my job as a maintenance technician. If you disagree with any of my views or methods of unclogging a toilet, then please leave a comment, if you are right I will acknowledge it. This blog is about helping…I help people every day by fixing stuff such as plumbing problems and much more for an hourly wage. I am not a contractor nor a professional plumber, if I said it in a post, I have done it and it has worked. Good luck and by now I hope you have learned how to unclog a toilet.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Casey November 26, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Your language is foul. You are a rude, disrespectful man; Is this the way you relate to people in everyday life?..Geez

Dave The Handyman November 26, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Hey, if you do not like MY blog and MY language then stay the FUCK OFF MY BLOG!!!

Matt January 7, 2010 at 4:37 am

Hey man, awesome website. I have a rental w/ college students (girls) living in there. One of them flushed tampons down the damn toilet. What’s the best way to go about this? It’s clogged now and I’m not paying the fee for a plumber w/something I could do. Should I just get the auger from Lowe’s and go at it? Thanks!

Dave The Handyman January 7, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I would try plunging the hell out of it first – and if that doesn’t work then the auger should do the trick :)

Matt January 7, 2010 at 9:41 pm

I plunged it, got the auger and still couldn’t get it. I guess the shit has made it’s way down a little further. The next step I guess is taking up the toilet and running the snake. I still can’t believe those idiots did that.

Dave The Handyman January 8, 2010 at 4:03 am

Matt, pull the toilet up, if there is water standing in the pipe, then the main line is clogged. You will need a long auger for this anywhere from 25-100 feet. They can be a pain in the ass to use though, and can kink very easy if you are not experienced in using them. One tip though if you plan on renting the big snake is use gloves, when it starts to tangle and swing put it in neutral and push forward, neutral, forward, neutral forward, etc. until the snake is moving forward freely. PS I am also assuming you are not using a septic tank for shit drainage. If you are then the toilet will be overflowing with shit every flush.

Kristin February 16, 2010 at 5:15 am

I’m going to try renting a machine, I’m pretty site I’ve got roots in the main line and am going in through the cleanout. Thanks for all the tips, great post!

jaxi February 21, 2010 at 4:52 pm

thanks! good advice, and no u are not being rude or crude, Casey needs roll up “his?” sleeves, get some elbow grease, man up and get to fixin stuff! quit bein a delicate flower casey or go call a plumber who will talk nice and $weet to ya!

Texan girl March 16, 2010 at 12:40 am

Plumbing is a shitty business, and it makes me cuss up a storm when ever I have to deal with it too. I’ve been dealing with this friggin plumbing problem since we moved into this rental a year ago, our landlord is a cheapskate and thinks we should be held responsible. I would understand that if we were putting anything down the toilet on the NoNo list, but I’m not a friggin idiot. We have an improperly installed vent stack in our master bath, often times running a hose with a high pressure nozzle on it down the vent stack from the roof works, but this time I am stumped. We took the toilet off and seem to have standing water in the sewer line, which when plunged goes from the toilet into the tub. I dont have any outdoor clean outs but we are on a pier and beam foundation. Heres to hoping the dish soap trick works, I’m tired and messy and all I want is a bath (after the tub is properly bleached of course)
Thanks for your knowledge and for sharing, might be renting a longer auger if not.

Matt you should charge your female occupants a fee for their stupidity, always make sure stuff like that is in the lease. My landlord wanted me to sign a clause stating I would be held responsible for plumbing issues, but since the water was not on at the time I declined to sign (So glad i did since it was clogged and the plumbers were here the first week we moved in)

lou September 28, 2010 at 5:13 pm

could a toilet get stopped up by just flushing maybe 3 cigarette butts down? also, is the plumber going to find the butts when he unclogs the toilet?

Courtney October 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm

My toilet clogged the other day after..well you know.. When I flushed everthing went down and then the toilet filled and overflowed but it was just water (no shit or toilet paper). So I went to home depot and bought the toilet auger that looks like the one you are using in the video except it is 6ft. I ran the snake down several times and nothing. So I dried up all the water on the floor and went to bed. When I got up the next morning my floor was wet again and the toilet had overflowed without me doing it. (I live on the bottom floor at an apt. complex) I had the maintenance guy come out, he used the 25 ft auger and “fixed it” Now it is 2 days later and the toilet has clogged again. Once again all the contents went down then the toilet water came up to the brim of the toilet bowl this time without overflowing and has gradually gone back down to a normal level in the bowl after sitting for a while. I pulled out the 6 ft auger again and nothing so far, I dont feel like im running into any resistance. P.S. The water in the back of the toilet is to the brim of that pipe like you said it should be. What do I need to do ? Keep trying with the 6 ft or call the maintenance guy to come back with the 25 ft, or is there another problem here? I would greatly appreciate your advice.

Dave The Handyman November 2, 2010 at 1:44 am

Lou – cigarette butts don’t generally clog toilets, especially 3, and no the plumber will more than likely not find them, something else is the problem.

Courtney – your at an apartment complex get the maintenance guy back out – they need to run the 50-100 foot auger, if they don’t have one they need to call a plumber. The six foot auger is only good for clogs that are inside of the toilet, where most clogs occur due to the diameter, after that it is the main drain line, the people upstairs flush their toilet and the main drain line is clogged so it has nowhere to go but back up, onto your floor.

tate February 22, 2011 at 3:09 am

My sister crumpled up and flushed a cigarette box down the toilet and now its clogged, we don’t have a plunger how can I unclog it?

Terry T. February 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Kid dropped my Norelco shaving head in toilet. Any idea how to retrieve it? I plunged to try sucking it up with no luck.

Everything flushes but very slow. Thanks for your help!

steve June 2, 2011 at 11:04 am
Stella October 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm

I’m a pretty handy gal (a former welder) not afraid of tools or foul language for that matter. We have a slow draining basement toilet. I have broken a few water closet augers (kinks in toilet too tight?) and used countless enzymes and liquid drain cleaners. So I got fed up and pulled the toilet off the floor. I check the toilet, no toys etc. I tested it by dumping a couple gallons of water down into the bowl. It drained well. When I looked into the sewer pipe I can see standing water. I suspect that the kids might have put cat litter in the toilet. We have since moved the box from the bathroom. All of the other drains in the house work fine including the sink and shower right next to the toilet I’m working on. So it seems like it isn’t a main line problem. What do you think? snake or chemical directly into the pipe?

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