Secret Plumber’s Trick to Unclog a Toilet!

OK…you don’t have to admit it…but I bet ALL of us have been in a “situation” before involving a clogged toilet that has been on the embarrassing side.  Especially when it’s somebody else’s toilet!  Yikes!

Well, I am here to give you at least a little peace of mind in this area. I’m going tell you the “secret” to getting yourself out of a “messy” situation when a plunger isn’t at hand and you’re in a crisis situation.

Now keep in mind…this isn’t SCIENCE…but based on the over 50 comments I read on an article posted at “The Art of Manliness”…it’s success rate is quite high.

Step One:

HELP!  Toilet is not flushing as it should! Water is rising! What do you do first?  Take the lid off the tank as quickly as possible and close the toilet flapper.

The toilet flapper allows water to flow from the toilet tank into the toilet bowl so if the toilet looks like it’s about to overflow and you want to avoid possible embarrassment then you should close the toilet flapper as quickly as possible to prevent any more water from getting into the toilet bowl. If you really want to be safe you’ll also want to shut off the water supply to the toilet so no more water can get into the toilet tank or toilet bowl.

Step Two:

OK…you’ve at least avoided an overflow of the most embarrassing kind. Now what? Here’s the “secret plumber trick” that plumber’s have been keeping from us for centuries! (I just made that up.) ADD HOT WATER!  Add a few cups of hot water to the toilet bowl before you attempt plunging, and you may not have to plunge at all.  After you pour the hot water in, let it sit for a few minutes. The heat melts the fats in the “clog” & makes it all more flushable. This could come in very handy if you happen to clog a toilet at a friends house and you don’t want to face the embarrassment of asking for a plunger.

If after surveying your surroundings you can’t find a bucket….look for a wastebasket. Empty out the wastebasket (people rarely keep a lot of garbage in their bathroom wastebasket) and fill it up with hot water from the sink. (Or you can fill up the basket from the shower head for quicker results.) Pour the hot water down the toilet carefully and the clog should be fixed in no time.

 Step Three (if necessary):

If Step Two doesn’t completely take care of the problem…another option is to add some dishwashing liquid. Just squirt two or three seconds worth down the toilet, wait a little while, then flush. (But be ready to grab the flapper in the event it was unsuccessful!) The soap helps “break up” the clog as well.

Of course if you happen to be in the above-mentioned scenario (in a house other than your own), asking the homeowner for a bottle of dishwashing liquid might be even more embarrassing (and suspicious) than asking for a plunger. lol.  So another commenter suggests grabbing a bottle of shampoo from the shower, squirting some in the toilet and letting it sit for as long as possible. It will often loosen and clear clogs all on it’s own. (And when you’re done, the bathrooom smells shampoo-fresh.)

Now you know “the secret” to dealing with a clogged toilet like a pro! Hopefully this valuable nugget of information will save us all from any future embarrassing “situations”. :-)

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  1. says

    O.K. Let me just say. IT WORKS!!! We very rarely get clogs. But hubby worked on one all day yesterday. I tried this “secret” this morning. Poured about 4 cups of hot water with Dawn squirted in. Went upstairs and finished reading my blogs. Came back down. Plunged twice and the clog was gone. Thank you so so much. Really love reading your blog.

  2. Nathalie says

    I’ve never tried this but I’m sure that it works…..and I know this because I work in public information for a water/sewer utility. Utilities and public works departments across the country have active FOG programs– it stands for Fats, Oils & Grease. Basically, these programs are outreach and education programs to about the danger of putting fats, oils and grease in your plumbing and ultimately, down the sewer system. This leads to sanitary sewer overflows and are a public health hazard.

    The best way to dispose of cooking greases is to see if your utility has a residential cooking grese recycling program (in ours we collect it and it is used to make biodeisel fuels). Barring that, collect it in a tin can in the freezer; when it is full, dispose of it in the trash.

    Love your blog Jillee, please keep it up!

  3. kim says

    Great tips! We rarely deal with a clog in the master bath, but in the bathroom shared by my 4 boys it’s a weekly occurrence it seems. I love the hot water and dish detergent idea. It makes so much sense. I wonder if baking soda and vinegar (my cure for all ills) would work. Nevermind… I guess we don’t need a toilet volcano.
    Anyhoo, I’m wondering about the ease and discreetness of having to remove the tank lid in somebody else’s house. Is it possible to remove those without the clang? And you’ve got the toilet seat up so where are you going to set the tank lid while you reach in to put the flap down? I can just see myself dropping it on my foot. And, don’t most people have things sitting on top of their tank? Wouldn’t it be much easier to just reach down and shut the water off?


      Not as good, since the tank is full and will empty itself into the bowl. But in your favor, it is better one tank full rather than it and more fresh water to boot….

    • Deb in Michigan says

      Yes Baking Soda and Vinegar does work, I’ve used it for some pretty stubborn clogs. I pour it in let it sit for 30 minutes or more then very hot water, sometimes it take repeating but it will work.

  4. Lizzy says

    Great (and quick) ideas! Thanks for sharing and I hope I never need to try them somewhere other than my home. But at least I have the know how – thanks to You Jill!! We appreciate and use them often! Please keep your helpful ideas coming our way.

  5. Laurie says

    Who’da thought – hot water and/or Dawn??? I can’t even begin to express how horrible I am with handling a plunger! After reading this helpful tip, I don’t foresee anymore “oopsie poopsies” in the future!

  6. Sade says

    Hi Jill,
    It’s in the back of my mind now if needed in the future! Thanks for all the pearls of wisdom/helpful tips to help us along the journey of life……

    I am having trouble getting to see new posts when I go to your website. The only way I see the new day’s worth is by getting it via email; then putting a word (such as ‘toilet’, today) in the search box when I go to your site! When I went to your site today, I got the home made gatorade and had to do a search for the ‘toilet’!
    love your website and you!!

  7. Alex says

    Thank you Jillee! I am about to dash upstairs and give it a try – will let you know how it goes. Had already tried just hot water so will give hot water and dawn a go – may this be the fix I am desperately searching for (other than banning my teenage sons from my bathroom). Alex