If your toilet is clogged, don’t worry! You are certainly not alone. But you are probably wondering: Will a toilet eventually unclog itself? And if you should let it or take care of the problem yourself? Luckily, we have all the answers you need right here!
A toilet does not usually unclog by itself. The likelihood of whether or not your toilet will unclog by itself depends on the toilet as well as what is causing the clog. It’s important to understand that you should not wait for a toilet to unclog but instead take action to unclog it yourself.
Common Causes of Toilet Clogs
While clogged toilets are a fairly common problem in many homes, there are really only two reasons why this occurs.
The most common cause of a clogged toilet is degradable or organic waste. Usually, this includes feces, vomit, or any other human excrement, as well as toilet paper or paper towels.
Of course, your toilet is made to handle degradable waste; however, sometimes, there is simply too much in the bowl, and the toilet becomes clogged.
Luckily, when degradable waste is clogging your toilet, the waste often softens or dissolves after a few hours, making it much easier to unclog yourself.
The second reason why your toilet is clogged is that non-flushable waste has been put inside the toilet bowl.
Often, this includes sanitary products such as pads or tampons, non-flushable wipes (and even some so-called flushable wipes), diapers, towels, or a variety of other non-toilet-friendly items.
Unfortunately, if there is non-flushable waste in your toilet, you may have to remove it with gloves or tongs before attempting to unclog and properly flush the toilet.
Should You Wait for a Toilet to Unclog Itself?
Now, once you have deduced what is clogging your toilet, you are probably wondering if you should wait for the toilet to unclog itself.
And according to plumbing experts, you should not wait for a toilet to unclog itself. And here’s why:
- Bacteria: If you leave waste in a clogged toilet, it can cause bacteria growth which will contaminate the air in your bathroom or the floor if it overflows and be detrimental to your health.
- Smell: Also, when you wait to unclog a toilet, a horrible smell may fill your bathroom and be quite hard to get rid of, even after you’ve unclogged it.
- Overflow: When you don’t unclog a toilet, you run the risk of experiencing overflow. If you try to use the toilet again or flush it, this will certainly happen, but it may also overflow even if you don’t touch it!
- Clog May Get Worse: If the toilet is clogged by non-flushable waste, the situation could worsen over time if left unclogged, as many of these products could expand when left in water.
However, although it is recommended to take action to unclog the toilet yourself, you should wait about 60 minutes before attempting any unclogging strategies, as the waste will likely slightly soften during that time.
How to Unclog a Toilet
Now, it’s important to understand that there are several tactics you can use to unclog a toilet in your home.
We have collected a list of the 6 best and easiest ways to unclog your toilet that you can try right now, and if done correctly, your toilet should be unclogged in the next few minutes.
However, before you get started on these steps, you need to first shut off the water supply. You can do so by turning the valve clockwise, usually located behind the toilet, to the off position.
Also, you should avoid flushing the toilet before you attempt any of these steps.
Use a Toilet Plunger
The first and arguably simplest tactic to try is to use a plunger. Luckily, most homes have a plunger laying around somewhere, so hopefully, you won’t have to buy any new tools or materials to use this tactic.
If you do have a plunger, you should follow these simple instructions to use it properly:
- Place the cup of the plunger over the drain.
- Create a seal with the plunger in the toilet bowl.
- Using sufficient pressure, push the plunger down.
- Then pull it back up.
- Repeat as many times as necessary to unclog the toilet.
After using a plunger, if the bottom of the bowl no longer appears clogged, you should turn the water valve back on and attempt to flush the toilet.
NOTE: Using a plunger will not work on a toilet that is clogged with non-flushable waste.
2. Try a Toilet Auger
The next option on our list is to use a toilet auger. Although you may not already have a toilet auger in your home, it is a great investment as it can save you quite a bit of money from not having to call a professional plumber when your toilet gets clogged!
A toilet auger is essentially a large drain snake, similar to the one you might use for a sink but with a plastic protector to keep the porcelain of your toilet bowl safe from scrapes and a long handle so your hand is far away from the mess.
Toilet augers are a great option for clogged toilets in which the clog is actually down the drain. This can occur when non-flushable items or even hair and toilet paper build up in the pipe, which eventually causes the toilet to stop flushing properly.
To use a toilet auger, simply strain the hook down a few inches into the toilet and crank the hand at the top. Continue to crank until you feel you have reached the clog, and then gently crank just a bit more.
Then, depending on what was dislodged, you can either remove it with tongs or just attempt to flush the toilet again.
3. Pour Baking Soda & Vinegar Mix Into Bowl
Another great option to unclog a toilet, especially if you don’t have a plunger or auger laying around, is to use common kitchen ingredients, baking soda and vinegar!
It’s important to note that you should only use this tactic if the toilet is clogged with degradable waste, as the chemical reaction will not help break down non-flushable items.
As well, this solution should only be tried if there is room in the toilet bowl to add liquid without risking overflow.
However, if there is simply too much build-up of toilet paper or natural excrement and there is room for additional liquid, you should pour a mixture of one-third baking soda and two-thirds vinegar into the bowl.
Then you may want to use a toilet brush or snake of some kind to ensure the mixture makes its way down into whatever is clogging your toilet.
Finally, wait about 20 minutes before attempting to flush the toilet again.
4. Use Toilet Cleaner
A similar solution is to use toilet cleaner instead of baking soda and vinegar to attempt to break down whatever is clogging the toilet.
In most stores, you can find a toilet cleaner that focuses on drain cleaning. These options are great as they have the chemicals needed to break up degradable waste such as hair, feces, toilet paper, or anything else that may have built up over time in your toilet.
To successfully use this solution, simply add the toilet cleaner to the toilet and wait for about 20 minutes. You should see the water start to drain into the toilet if the cleaner is doing its job.
Then, you can try to flush the toilet again and hope you’ve solved your problem!
5. Pour Hot Water Into Bowl
Another extremely easy solution to try is to just pour hot water into the toilet bowl.
Once again, for this tactic, you don’t need to purchase any additional tools or materials, and it might just unclog your toilet in a matter of minutes!
When you attempt this solution, you should use hot water from the tap and slowly pour it into the bowl a little bit at a time.
If you see water draining within the toilet, it is working! However, if the water isn’t draining but is instead filling up the bowl, stop immediately, as the toilet may overflow.
With this option, it’s vital that you use hot, not boiling, water, as boiling water could damage your toilet bowl.
6. Use Liquid Dish Soap
And last but certainly not least, you can try using liquid dish soap to unclog your toilet.
Although it is an extremely common household product, you may not know that most liquid dish soaps have the capacity to dissolve organic waste!
So by using liquid dish soap in your clogged toilet, you may be able to solve the problem and keep your bathroom smelling fresh.
To use this tactic, simply add a small amount of liquid dish soap to your toilet and wait 30 minutes.
If the water has started to drain, you can attempt to flush your toilet and hope that it is unclogged!
You should be aware of how much dish soap you put into your toilet, as an excessive amount may lead to suds and soapy overflow when you attempt to flush.
How to Prevent a Clogged Toilet From Overflowing
Finally, it’s important to understand how you can prevent a clogged toilet from overflowing.
Whether you are waiting an hour before attempting to unclog the toilet in the hope that some of the waste dissolves or simply need a moment to collect the tools needed to unclog the toilet, you will certainly need to know what you should do to ensure it doesn’t overflow in the meantime.
Here are a few easy ways to prevent a clogged toilet from overflowing:
- Close the shut-off valve: No matter what tactic you plan to take, you should always close the shut-off valve behind your toilet when it gets clogged. You can do so by twisting the valve clockwise until it’s in the opposite position as when it was on.
- Adjust tank flapper and/or floater: A functioning toilet will refill the tank automatically in order to prepare for the next flush. However, this can lead to overflow when a toilet is clogged. To combat this problem, you should enter the toilet tank and lift the floater or flapper off to ensure the tank doesn’t continue to fill.
- Avoid using the toilet or pressing the flush handle: Although it may seem obvious, you should absolutely avoid using or flushing the toilet when it’s clogged, as this can and almost certainly will lead to an overflowing toilet bowl.
Why is My Toilet Always Clogged?
Now, if your toilet is continually clogging from simple degradable waste, you may have a bigger problem on your hands.
Usually, when this occurs, it’s because the blockage is in the main sewer line, not in the drain pipe that leads from your toilet.
As you now know, a toilet will not usually unclog itself. So if you attempted all of the tactics listed above to unclog your toilet, and it continues to happen, unfortunately, it’s time to call a professional plumber to check it out.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.