If you’ve ever been in a bathroom with a clogged toilet and no plunger, you’ve probably asked yourself: will this toilet unclog itself?
A clogged toilet will typically unclog itself over time. Most things that clog a toilet are water-soluble which means they will eventually dissolve in the toilet water. When the clog is given enough time to break down, the pressure of a flush should be enough to clear the pipes.
This might sound simple, but there’s a few more things you really should know before you let that poor clogged toilet fend for itself. Let’s get to it!
- Will a Toilet Unclog Itself?
- How To Unclog Your Toilet Without a Plunger
- How to Keep your Toilet from Overflowing When Clogged
- Related Questions
Will a Toilet Unclog Itself?
When deciding if letting your toilet unclog itself is a good option, there are two things to consider:
- What caused the clog?
- How big is the clog?
1. What Caused the Clog?
Letting the toilet unclog itself is only going to work if the object that caused the clog is an organic, degradable material. Basically, if you flushed something other than human waste or septic safe toilet paper, the toilet will not unclog itself.
Some commonly-flushed items that shouldn’t be flushed are feminine hygiene products, diapers, and flushable wipes. These items are nondegradable which means they can cause a clog in your toilet, and they can also back up your septic system, which you do NOT want.
If your clog was caused by any of these items, it’s time to invest in a plunger and, for the sake of your septic system, stop trying to flush them.
It’s also worth mentioning that different toilet brands and models may handle clogs differently. So, depending on the toilet you’re dealing with, you may have better (or worse) luck getting the toilet to unclog itself.
2. How Big is the Clog?
The next thing you need to consider is how big or severe the clog is. If your toilet backs up some but then drains slowly, you have a partial clog. This type of clog is the easiest to clear and the most likely to unclog itself.
If you’re wondering how long to wait, I’d say 30 minutes to an hour should be enough to dissolve most clogs. But, if you can afford to wait longer, the more time it has to dissolve the better.
However, if you have a severe clog or blockage where your toilet doesn’t drain at all, it’s unlikely that your toilet will unclog itself. And personally, I’d rather be safe than sorry, especially when the consequences involve mopping up dirty toilet water.
So, if you have a big clog, or it just doesn’t seem like something that can clear itself, I suggest grabbing a plunger and fixing it as soon as possible. If you don’t have a plunger and you’re getting desperate, don’t worry, in the next section, we have some ways to plunge without a plunger.
How to unclog your toilet without a plunger
There are three easy ways to unclog your toilet with things most people have around their homes. Let’s dig right in.
1. Toilet brush
The first way you can unclog your toilet without a plunger comes from personal experience. Once, in the middle of moving to a new apartment, my toilet got clogged and my plunger was packed in a box. But, I’m a quick thinker, so I grabbed the next best thing, my toilet brush.
While a toilet brush may not be as effective as a plunger, it can accomplish the same task.
A plunger works by forcing water through your toilet plumbing with more pressure than just a normal flush. This dislodges the clog and lets water flow freely.
So, although the toilet brush may not be able to force as much water through with as much pressure as a plunger, it can still get out the small clogs. Desperate times, desperate measures.
2. DIY Plumbing Snake
If you’ve got a clog too big for your toilet brush to handle, you can make your own plumbing snake using a clothes hanger.
A plumbing snake is a long piece of wire that plumbers put through drains in order to break up clogs.
Simply unfold a clothes hanger and work it through your toilet drain. If you feel resistance, try to work it around to break up the clog.
If you decide to try this method, I advise using a plastic-coated wire hanger or bending the end of a wire hanger as the sharp metal on the end could scratch the porcelain of your toilet.
3. Hot Water
If the water in your toilet will still drain slowly, putting hot water down the drain can help dissolve the clog.
You don’t want to use boiling water, as the shock could cause your toilet to crack. Getting hot tap water from your sink or your shower should work just fine.
Once you have your hot water, just pour it right in. If your toilet is draining slowly or not at all, be careful with this because you could cause your toilet to overflow on accident.
If the clog is still being stubborn, try a combination of these three methods to break it up.
How to Prevent Your Toilet from Overflowing When It’s Clogged
If you’ve got a clogged toilet, it’s a good idea to know how to keep it from overflowing while you try to get it unclogged.
First things first, if your toilet is clogged and not draining, don’t flush it.
Now that we have that covered, the other main way to prevent your toilet from overflowing is to keep the tank on your toilet from refilling.
How to Keep Your Toilet Tank from Refilling
There are a couple of ways to accomplish this goal. The first and easiest way is to shut off the water to your toilet, is to turn off your main water valve.
1. Turn Off The Toilet Water Valve
Almost all toilets have a pipe and valve connected to the tank towards the back of the toilet. Turn this valve off to prevent water from refilling your tank. Righty tightey, lefty loosey.
If your toilet doesn’t have one of these, it’s in an awkward position, or it’s just too hard to turn, don’t worry, you can still stop the toilet from refilling using the next method.
2. Raise the Toilet Float
Another way to prevent your toilet from refilling is to raise the toilet float.
The tank on a toilet refills when the float in the tank drops below a certain level. You can prevent this from happening by raising your toilet float.
Don’t worry if you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s super easy.
When you lift the lid off your toilet tank, it should look something like this:
All you have to do is grab the float, the ball-shaped object on the end of a pole, raise it out of the water, and secure it there.
You can secure it by raising its level with the top of the tank and sliding something under it to keep it there. Don’t worry about touching the water in the toilet tank, its clean tap water.
This will prevent the tank from refilling with water so, even if you accidentally flush it, you won’t be able to flush it again.
3. Turn Off Your Home’s Water
Your water main shut off is usually located near your water heater which can usually be found in a basement or a maintenance closet.
If you live in an apartment, sometimes you won’t have access to your own water shut off. If that’s the case and you have water overflowing, you should call your building maintenance or call a plumber to help you fix the problem.
Can You Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger?
There are several ways to unclog a toilet without a plunger. For instance, you could use a toilet brush, which can resolve less severe clogs. It’s also possible to unclog a toilet by slowly pouring hot water down the drain, or by fashioning a DIY plumbing snake.
Will Toilet Paper Dissolve in a Clogged Toilet?
Toilet paper will usually dissolve in a toilet, which can help to fix clogs that were caused by toilet paper. If you’re unsure about your brand of toilet paper, you can check the label to make sure it’s septic system friendly. If it is, that means it will dissolve easily in water.