toilet and plunger
toilet and plunger

How To Unclog A Toilet

Of all the clogs out there, toilet clogs are the worst...for obvious reasons. But don’t rush to call a plumber—chances are good you can banish toilet trouble on your own by taking these smart steps!


Just say no to overflow

First, turn off the water. If your toilet is on the verge of overflowing (or has already begun to), this prevents any more water from entering your toilet and making the problem worse. Find the shutoff valve located behind the toilet, near the floor, and turn it clockwise.

hand turning toilet shutoff valve

Put some muscle (and a plunger) into it

Funnel-cup plungers, with a flange extending from the bottom, are the best for toilets. First, make sure there’s enough water in the bowl to cover the bottom of the plunger. If there isn’t, pour more into the bowl. As you push the plunger down and up, remember that the upward pull is as important as the downward push, so put some muscle into it! (Just watch out for splashback.)


Try a toilet auger

OK, it’s time to take it to the next level with a handheld toilet auger. Buy one at the hardware store—just make sure the corkscrew end of the auger you put in the toilet has rubber over it, otherwise it will scratch the porcelain. Put it into the toilet hole and turn the handle clockwise. Once you’ve dislodged the obstruction, pull the auger out, give the toilet a few more plunges, and flush.

man using toilet auger

Know when to call the pros

Even the best of us need to know when to ask for help. If a plunger and auger still aren’t doing the trick, it’s time to call a professional.


Practice prevention

To avoid having to deal with a clogged toilet in the first place, here are some tips:

  • Never flush heavy paper products down the drain (this includes paper towels and tissues). Make sure products you flush are safe for plumbing systems and septic tanks.

  • Take it easy on the toilet paper. Flushing large amounts can certainly lead to clogs.

  • Toys are a common cause for clogs, so teach kids what shouldn’t go down the toilet.

  • Use Drano® Max Build-Up Remover on a monthly basis to help prevent plumbing problems.