How to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger

The following is a guest post by our (nerdy yet totally helpful) friends at Hack College. Check ‘em out for all your techy needs. They’re like the nerdy boyfriend you never had but always needed.

Oh God. I know this is gross. But everyone clogs a toilet every once in a while.

Usually, the jet-engine nature of a college toilet is enough to bring your whole body down with it. Sometimes that fortune doesn’t grace you when you’re at a party in someone’s dorm suite. And most college students don’t have a plunger. This is an incredibly embarassing situation that you need to quash quickly. Luckily, I have two hacks for impromptu toilet de-cloggers.

Before we go on, keep in mind that the maintence department at your university probably takes care of all plumbing problems, including a simple clogged toilet. Check your college’s policies, because some ask you not to even try plunging it yourself. And that’s why most students don’t have a plunger.

However, this disclaimer does not help you during a “social fail” like clogging the party’s only toilet.

First: Stop The Water

Watching the water level rise in the toilet feels a lot like walking into a pop quiz, only, if you fail the quiz, you get poop all over you. Let’s end the overflow before we try to unclog.

If this is a deeper sewage problem, nothing can help you. But if it’s just the bowl refilling itself, pull off the tank lid and lift up the float ball. Now, hold it there or try to cut off the water supply at the main shutoff. Take a deep breath.


Wire Hanger

Some plumbers even recommend using this method in addition to a plunger before you give them a ring. All you need is a wire hanger which you can discreetly find in just about any dwelling. You’re basically going to make your own “auger” AKA “drain snake,” out of a wire hanger.

  1. Unbend the wire, leaving a hook at the end and shove it down the hole.
  2. The cross section of that toilet pipe is like an “S” rotated 90 degrees. You need to keep working that wire down the hole until it bends along that shape — so there will be a little resistance.
  3. When you reach something really resistant — that’s the clog. You can try two things: 1) Pushing the hook through the clog completely, then pulling the clog back out, or 2) Picking away at the clog until you get lucky and one of your pokes dislodges it.

Plastic Bottle

Try the hanger first because this could get messy.

Again, we’re using a simple household (partyhold) item: an empty plastic liter-sized bottle — one that you absolutely never plan on using ever again.

  1. Stick the opening into the toilet bowl, trying not to let too much water inside. Get as tight of a seal between the “shoulders” of the bottle and the exit. Push it in there hard.
  2. Squeeze the bottle. Ideally, the air pressure is going to push on the clog like a plunger pushing down would — but what will probably happen is that the air will escape around the bottle’s shoulders. That’s okay.
  3. Still keeping the seal as tight as possible, try to coerce the bottle into sucking up the water between the bottle and the clog. This action is like pulling-out of a plunger.
  4. Keep repeating until the problem is resolved. There’s no need to push with air again like in steps 1 and 2. Just keep the bottle submerged, squeezing and refilling.

I know this whole thing is disgusting. But you’ll heed my advice if it happens to you.

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