How to Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger

This is much cuter than a picture of a clogged toilet, don't you think?. (Photo: Lopolo/Shutterstock)

Picture this: It's Christmas Eve and the family is just about to gather around the table for a holiday meal when Uncle Fred emerges from your only bathroom and announces that the toilet is clogged. You don't have a plunger. What do you do?

Don't panic. It's possible to unclog that toilet without a plunger. And you probably have everything you need right in your pantry. In fact, there are two ways to do it.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar can get you out of a clogged toilet jam. (Photo: Geo-grafika/Shutterstock)

You've probably used that fun, bubbly reaction to clean a toilet, but you can also use it to unclog it. Start by removing some of the water from the bowl so the reaction doesn't get too diluted. Next, add about a cup or two of baking soda. Then slowly add as much white vinegar as you have. Remember, this is going to bubble and fizz like crazy, so do it slowly or you'll have an overflow.

Let the baking soda/vinegar mixture sit in the toilet doing its thing for about 30 minutes. Then pour some very hot but not boiling water into the toilet. Get the water too hot and you could damage your pipes. Aim for not quite boiling and you should be fine.

Hopefully, once you add the water, the clog will break free and the toilet will drain. If it doesn't, or if it's draining only a little, try repeating the process.

Dish Soap or Shampoo

Dish soap
No plunger? No worries. Plain old dish soap can help to unclog your toilet. (Photo: Marc Dietrich/Shutterstock)

Don't have baking soda and vinegar on hand? You could try unclogging the drain with any form of liquid soap — such as dish soap or shampoo — and some hot water.

Start by squeezing a few teaspoons of soap into the toilet. Let it sit in the drain for about 10 minutes while you heat the water. Just like with the baking soda and vinegar method, you want the water to be hot but not boiling so that you don't cause any damage.

Pour the water into the bowl from about waist height to get gravity working on your side, but be careful not to splash the almost boiling water onto yourself! The soap should loosen the clog, and the force of the water will push it on through. If that doesn't work, let the hot water and soap sit in the bowl for about 30 minutes and repeat the process.

Good luck!