How to Fix an Overflowing Toilet Without a Plunger

Last week, we sent a plumber out to Manteca to answer a call for a clogged toilet. When we entered the bathroom, the owner said he noticed the toilet was overflowing, freaked out, didn’t have a plunger, and called the plumber right away. While it’s great that he called us first, and fast, we realized that many people aren’t sure of what to do when their toilet clogs, and what to do if they find themselves without a toilet plunger. But did you know that you don’t actually need a plunger to unclog your toilet? It’s true – and not many are aware of it. So this post is all about how to clear a toilet without a plunger – something we think everyone should know how to do in case of an emergency.

1. Unclog Your Toilet with Dish Soap

There are several methods for fixing an overflowing toilet without a plunger, but using dish soap might be the most popular. The great thing about this method is that you probably have a ton of regular household dish soap on hand, so you don’t have to go out and make a special trip to the store.

Just pour a few good squeezes of dishwashing liquid into the toilet bowl. You can also try shampoo if you’re in a pinch. Finish the soap off with hot water to help activate the soap and start breaking up the toilet paper clog. Wait 15-20 minutes, then try flushing the toilet. Note that if your toilet is already to the brim with water, this method might not work very well.

2. Try Hot Water

Another easy way to try fixing a clogged or overflowing toilet with no plunger is to run hot water in the bathtub, shower, or sink. In the meantime, grab a bucket or large bowl and fill it with water. Pour hot water into the toilet bowl very slowly, making sure not to let the water overflow. Hot water on its own can help to alleviate the clog by breaking up toilet paper and waste matter. If your toilet does start to overflow, make yourself aware of where the float is. You can lift the float up if the water level gets too high in order to prevent overflowing.

Note that if you suspect you have a main sewer line clog, the hot water method won’t work. In fact, it will just make matters worse! Call a plumber right away if you suspect you have a main sewer line clog.

3. Bleach Can Break Up Serious Clogs

For more serious clogs, you can try liquid household bleach in place of the dish soap in method #1. First pour a small amount of bleach (no more than 1 cup) into the toilet bowl. Then follow the bleach with a cup of powdered dishwashing soap. Wait 10 minutes, then flush the toilet.

Note that we don’t recommend this method, simply because bleach is very harsh on your pipes and the soft rubber gaskets. In a similar fashion, we don’t recommend over the counter drain cleaners either, because they can emit toxic gases when mixed improperly with other household substances.

4. A Clothes Hanger can Do Wonders

Feeling a little bit more desperate? While we recommend keeping a hand-held drain snake in your bathroom to remove smaller toilet clogs, we also know from experience that not everyone follows our advice. Luckily for you, you can create a makeshift drain snake out of a plastic-coated wire hanger. Cut the hanger just beneath the hook, and straighten it as much as possible. Stick the end into the toilet bowl and move it around to try and dislodge the clog. Make sure to cover as much area as possible. When you feel you’ve done enough, remove the hanger and try flushing the toilet.

5. Get Creative

For those of you who like to stay on the forefront of the As Seen on TV trend, you’re also in luck. Consider trying a PlungeMax or a Pongtu if you’re feeling really daring. These devices work on the same concept – use suction to force the clog further down the drain and dislodge it. We think these tools are mostly a joke, especially since pushing the clog further down doesn’t always end positively. But for smaller clogs, this might work.

Toilet Overflowing and No Plunger in Sight?

There are plenty of ways to fix a flooding toilet without a plunger, but even the best alternative doesn’t compare. Plungers are incredibly cheap, and you can use them to unclog more than toilets. Try one the next time your sink, floor drain, or shower clogs and there is a great chance that you’ll be able to fix the clog without calling a plumber.

The Most Important Step in Fixing an Overflowing Toilet

Remember – always turn off the water the moment you suspect a clogged toilet. This should be your first step no matter what, since it will stop further water damages and save you pain and money in the long run.

And there you have it! Five different ways to fix an overflowing toilet without a plunger. Do you have a favorite method you’ve tried in the past? We welcome your stories and suggestions in the comments below.