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How to unblock a toilet

The last thing you want is a blocked toilet. Follow this simple step-by-step guide to unblock your toilet as quickly and efficiently as possible - including tips on how to unblock a toilet without a plunger.


By Cleanipedia Team

how to unblock a toilet: Image of a white toilet against blue background with toilet roll
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Key Steps:

Here's some essential equipment you'll need when unblocking a toilet:

  • Protective clothing, e.g. rubber gloves

  • Hot water

  • A plunger

  • A commercial drain cleaner, such as Domestos Pipe & Sink Unblocker (remember to follow the instructions on your product’s label carefully).

Toilet Repair Safety

The first thing you need to do is make sure it’s your toilet – not your drain – that’s blocked. Take a look in the drain outside your house to check that there’s not a larger problem. If your toilet is the main culprit of the blockage, get started by following these safety instructions:


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  • Protect the floor with old towels or newspaper. This is too soak up any overflowing water or spills.

  • Make sure the room is well-ventilated. Stagnant water can produce gases that smell bad and shouldn’t be inhaled, as well as chemicals.

  • Put on long rubber gloves and washable clothes. Toilets are a breeding ground for germs, so be sure to protect yourself from contamination.

  • Read all the safety instructions on the labels of the products you will be using.

  • Never use more than one cleaning product at a time. Mixing these can cause dangerous and unexpected chemical reactions.

  • Turn off the water to the toilet at the wall. This will minimize the likelihood of the toilet overflowing.

  • Call a plumber if you do not succeed in unblocking the toilet yourself. The methods below are safe to try on your own, but for more stubborn or complex blockages you will need to consult a professional.

Whenever you’re unblocking a toilet, safety first! Follow our directions below for advice on how to deal with minor blockages in the toilet. Remember – if you are in any doubt about how to proceed, you can call a plumber for assistance.

How to Unblock a Toilet: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Step one: Unblocking a toilet manually

If you know exactly what’s blocking the toilet – and you think you can dislodge it manually – use your gloved hands to do so. If you manage to remove the blockage, be sure to complete step two to flush any remaining debris down the drain. Your toilet’s function should return to normal.

Step two: Using hot water and gravity to flush manually

Sometimes unblocking toilet pipes can be as simple as pouring hot water into the toilet bowl from a height. The hot water should help dissolve blockages and gravity will push water harder through the pipes than a normal flushing process. But remember to be careful not to scald yourself in the process.

Step three: Unblocking a toilet with suction

Everyone knows you can unblock toilet pipes with a plunger, but did you know there are different types of plungers and you should use one that’s specifically designed for the purpose? Ask at your local DIY shop for the right model and then get to work: slowly push down on the plunger to produce a vacuum over the hole, and then sharply pull the handle up to dislodge the clog. Make sure the toilet bowl has water in, or you won’t get the right effect. Repeat this as many times as needed to dislodge any debris and clear the blockage.

Step four: Using a commercial drain cleaner for toilets

This is the last step you should try before calling out a plumber. Only use this method if you’re sure the blockage is organic, not a plastic or metal object. Read the instructions on the label carefully and be sure to take any necessary safety precautions.

Step five: Call a professional for advice

If you’re in any doubt about how to proceed, or you’ve made no progress by following the steps above, it’s time to call out a plumber. They’ll have your toilet unblocked in no time!

Once your toilet is in top working order again, restore it to its former glory with our toilet cleaning tips.

Originally published