Clogged Toilet? Sanitary Unclogging Techniques

A clogged toilet is not just inconvenient, it can be extremely unsanitary. Here are a few simple ways to deal with a clogged toilet in the cleanest way possible.

Don’t Flush Again

If the toilet doesn’t flush the first time, don’t try to flush it again. This will pump more water from the tank into the bowl, causing the water level to increase and overflow. The toilet bowl will usually start to drain on its own, even though it will be very slow.

Cover Your Hands and the Floor

You want to make sure you are wearing a pair of gloves. Rubber cleaning gloves will work the best, but plain latex gloves these are better than nothing. You'll also want to cover the floor to minimize the mess. Newspaper will work best for this, as you can just throw it away. Laying down towels that you plan on using again is not advisable.

Hot Water

If you live in an apartment complex this method should be avoided. Microwave or boil a pot of water. If you choose to boil the water, you will need to allow it to sit before you do this. The water should be no hotter than a cup of coffee or tea. Squirt a little bit of dish detergent in the toilet bowl and slowly start the pour the hot water in to the bowl. The idea is that the hot water will pass around the clog, helping to break it up. If this doesn’t work the first time you can try it one more time as long as the water isn’t overflowing from the bowl.


If you have another bathroom that you can use for a day, enzymes may work. You can purchase enzymes that will eat at waste material. These enzymes are very commonly used in septic systems and can be purchased at most hardware or plumbing supply stores. The enzyme will need to sit, usually overnight, and it should dissolve most of the clog.


If you can’t wait overnight, and the hot water didn’t work, try a plunger. Plunging can be messy as water may splash up from the bowl. This isn’t the most sanitary method, but it’s better than leaving waste material sit in a bowl for any length of time.

Make sure you are using the right kind of plunger. The small suction-cup style plungers that you can buy cheaply are usually not as effective for plunging a toilet. The larger the plunger, the better chance you have of getting the clog with less time and effort.


A pipe snake, or auger, can be used if the plunger doesn’t work. Less messy than a plunger snakes work by feeding the long tube down the drain in the toilet into the plumbing itself, pushing through the clog. You can purchase a small pipe snake inexpensively, or for larger jobs you can rent them.