How To Unblock A Toilet


Having to unblock a toilet is up there with one of the smelliest, dirtiest and all round unpleasant domestic jobs out there. We’re here to help make this experience as quick and easy as possible with our 7-step guide.

First, let’s diagnosed your problem – Is your water taking a long time to drain out of your toilet bowl or rising to the point of overflowing?

Then “Doctor” Big Bathroom Shop is here to tell you, your toilet Is blocked, and we have the perfect remedy!

Before we get into the steps, it might it worth trying to get rid of a blockage with a toilet brush first.

If your toilet is blocked with tissue, use the toilet brush to push to the tissue back down the toilet drain.

If that doesn’t work, keep on reading to find out how to unblock a clogged toilet.

Tools you will need:

  • Rubber Gloves
  • A Plunger
  • Bleach
  • Drain Unblocker Wire/Coat Hanger
  • Newspaper or something similar to lay around the toilet to protect the floor.

STEP 1 – Avoid repeated flushing and close your “flapper”

Now we have established that it is definitely blocked, try to avoid over flushing.

Once your toilet is blocked, no amount of flushing will unblock it. All that will happen is your toilet’s water level will rise and that’s the last thing you want!

  • So, your first task is making sure you close the flapper in your tank to stop the water supply. By doing this you will stop the toilet from overflowing.
  • Lift the lid of your tank and at the bottom there should be an object that looks similar to a plug on a chain. If you’re unsure, please see our diagram below.
  • Once you have sussed where the flapper is located push it closed.

A toilet flapper is responsible for draining water from the tank. Every toilet is different, therefore flappers come in a variety of designs, sizes and fits.

Your toilet flapper is attached to the toilet lever with a chain and when you flush the toilet the flapper lifts and water into the bowl.

Once your toilet tank is empty, the toilet flapper is forced back into place and seals to prevent any more water leaving the tank. Your fill valve will then do its job of refilling the tank with clean water.

STEP 2 – Protect the area when unclogging your toilet

Before you attempt to unblock the toilet, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re in an outfit you don’t mind throwing away after completing this unblocking mission.

We would also suggest that you lay newspapers or old towels around the toilet to catch any splashes.


Step 3 – Unblocking using a toilet plunger

Grab those rubber gloves, it’s plunger time!

For the best results, you will need a fold out rubber plunger that will create a vacuum function around the toilet bowl. Having a strong rubber seal will mean your plunger is more likely to get the job done.

Now, place the plunger firmly into the toilet and slowly pull back. This should start dislodging the blockage. Repeat this until you hear water moving down the pipe – this is a good sign the blockage has been pushed or pulled from the toilet pipe.

It’s a safe time to try and flush the toilet again but this time your eyes should light up at the sight of fresh, clean toilet water.

toilet plunger

Step 4 – Use drain unblocker to remove the debris

Don’t worry if the plunger hasn’t done the trick, there are a few other tools you can try and unclog the blockage.

If you haven’t already, it’s worth investing in a drain unblocker wire. You can pick them up for as little as £22.99 from Screwfix.

A drain unblocker is a flexible rod with a spring probe head to clear blockages around tight bends – it’s a great little investment for emergency situations like a blocked toilet.

It is also known as a plumbing snake or snaking, due to the snake like movement of the wire moving around the toilet bends.

  • All you have to do is loosen the handle and pull the wire to your desired length and shape.
  • Then pop the wire down the toilet and twist the head on the drum, this will cause the rod to move in a circle motion and grab any debris in your toilet, waste pipes or pipe work.
  • The rod will work to either drag out any blockage or pushes the blockage down the water drains.

How to unblock your toilet without a plunger

If you don’t own a plunger or a drain unblocker wire, try to use a wire clothes hanger instead. Unwind the wire coat hanger so you have one piece of long wire to work with.

  • We would recommend wrapping duct tape around the tip of the wire entering the bowl so you don’t scratch your toilet.
  • Now push the wire gently into the drain until you find the obstruction. Push against the obstruction until water begins to drain. If you think the obstruction has cleared, try to flush the toilet!
  • If you do manage to push the blocked down the pipes, be sure to use a drain cleaner to freshen up those pipes and clear away any other debris that might be lurking around.

All you have to do is loosen the handle and pull the wire to your desired length. Then pop the wire down the toilet and twist the head on the drum, this will cause the rod to move in a circle motion and grab any debris in your toilet, waste pipes or pipe work.

How to unblock a toilet with baking soda

It may be that your toilet isn’t completely blocked and can be tackled naturally with baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda is something you should always keep in stock at home, as it does the job of many household cleaners plus it’s an environmentally friendly way to resolve your blockage toilet issues!

First, pour half a cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl. Then, measure two litres of hot (not boiling) water and add half a cup of white vinegar.

Start pouring the hot water and vinegar concoction into the toilet bowl from waist height and close the lid.

The hot vinegar will mix with the baking soda and cause a foamy chemical reaction. This reaction causes any debris to breakdown and should unclog your toilet.

Leave the soda and vinegar to react for 30 minutes then flush the toilet.

baking soda

Clean the toilet area

Hopefully, you now have a unblocked toilet and are feeling pretty chuffed. So, now it’s time to clean up!

Put a generous amount of bleach down the toilet to get rid of any nastiness the blockage left. Mop up any water splashes and give your toilet seat a good scrub.

Top tip – If your unblocking mission has been a success, avoid future blockages by keeping on top of debris build up with a strong drain unblocker. Pop a cap down your drain every month or so to keep your toilet clear.ter and vinegar concoction into the toilet bowl from waist height and close the lid.

cleaning toilet

If you would like more advice on unblocking shower drains visit our ‘How To Unblock A Shower Drain Article’

If all else fails, call the professionals

Sometimes you can try all the methods the internet has to offer, but the blockage just will not budge. If this is the case, it’s time to admit defeat and call a plumber.

Frequently asked questions about unblocking toilets

Will A Toilet Eventually Unclog itself?

Depending on what is causing the blockage in your toilet, toilets can unclog themselves. If the blockage has been caused by toilet paper, it should eventually start breaking down due to water pressure.

However, we would advise you to never wait for your toilet to unclog itself, because in some cases your toilet could overflow, and nobody wants that.

If you find yourself with a blocked loo, try our steps above or call in a professional to deal with the problem.

How to Unblock a Toilet with Cling Film?

Cling film is one of the many ways you can try and unblock your toilet (weird we know, but it works). Here’s how you do it:

Cover your toilet bowl in 2-3 layers of cling film, until it’s airtight. When you’re sure the entire bowl is covered in cling film and won’t move, flush the toilet.

The cling film with start to bubble up, firmly press the air out of the bubble and back down into the toilet. The air pressure from the bubble will force your toilet to unclog itself – amazing right?

Can You Unblock a Toilet with Washing-up Liquid?

Attempting to unblock your toilet with water and washing-up liquid, is one of the cheapest ways to go about it. It’s always worth trying this method before calling your plumber.

First, take the washing up liquid and pour 2-3 squirts into the toilet bowl.

Then, pour a jug of hot (not boiling) water from waist high into the tub. Avoid boiling water as it could crack your loo.

Leave for around 30 minutes and then flush the toilet. The slipperiness and warmth of the water will work together to dislodge the blockage.

Does Hot Water Unblock A Toilet?

Hot water can unblock your toilet depending on two things, 1) what actually is causing the blockage and 2) how badly blocked your toilet is.

If the blockage is a build-up of tissue paper, pour 3-4 cups of hot (not boiling) water from waist height into the toilet bowl. Give the hot water around 20 minutes to breakdown the blockage.

The heat from the water will slowly start to breakaway any tissue debris and therefore, make unclogging with the plunger much easier.

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