How to Unclog a Toilet When a Plunger Doesn't Work

Chelsea Fitzgerald

A clogged toilet can wreak havoc in your household. Not only does it cut down on the availability of the bathroom, but it also can overflow and cause an unsightly mess. This can damage your flooring and is an unpleasant chore to clean up.

Using too much toilet paper can cause a toilet to clog.

If attempting to unclog the toilet with a plunger fails, don't immediately call a plumber. Try using a closet auger; most of the time this will clear the clog.


You can purchase a closet auger at home supply, hardware or plumbing stores.


If you don't have success with the auger, call a plumber to diagnose and get an estimate on the repair.

Avoid flushing toilets with clogs. This may cause it to overflow if you do not loosen the source of the clog in the pipes.

  1. Shut off the valve that connects to the water supply in the toilet. The valve usually is located on the wall behind and underneath the toilet tank. This will prevent more water from entering the tank.

  2. Push the curved tip of the closet auger into the drain hole opening by cranking clockwise on the handle. Don't worry about scratching the toilet bowl with the tool; its soft, flexible sleeve will prevent this.

  3. Turn it the opposite way when you feel the auger tighten up.

  4. Repeat until the coil is as far as it can go into the drain or the sleeve is resting in the bottom of the bowl.

  5. Pull the closet auger out of the drain. If you feel it catch on something, push and pull it gently a few times or crank the handle.

  6. Repeat this a few times to clear the blockage in your toilet. You will know you are successful if the toilet bowl empties quickly. Remove the closet auger and pour a bucket of water into the bowl to make sure the clog is gone. If not, repeat the method.

  7. Turn the water valve back on.