A clogged toilet is not only a huge inconvenience and a very costly problem to get fixed if you don’t have a plunger, but it also can completely interrupt your household. Additionally, professional help from plumbers is not always readily available even if you can afford the slight dent it’ll make in your bank balance. This is why knowing how to unclog a toilet is a very handy skill for you to learn.
There are different methods you can use for unclogging your blocked toilet. You can add dish detergent, apply petroleum jelly on a plunger, use a plumber’s snake, pour boiling water, or even make a DIY de-clogger at home. But perhaps the most effective of all the toilet-unclogging techniques is the combination of baking soda and vinegar.
Why choose baking soda and vinegar?
When there are other chemicals readily available in the market, chemicals that are strong enough to clear your toilet of any kind of clogs – why should you opt for this basic combination?
Here are a few reasons why:
- Baking soda and vinegar both are everyday household items that you can easily find in your home. You wouldn’t need to go out and get the materials to fix your clogged toilet.
- Neither baking soda nor vinegar is a harsh chemical. Even though you can buy strong chemicals that are meant to unclog your toilet in no time, they might cause irreversible damage. But the vinegar and baking soda combination is completely safe for your toilet.
- Although you should wear gloves and ensure that no part of your body comes in contact with the materials – before, during, or after the reaction – there is no major safety hazard when using vinegar and baking soda. However, many bathroom cleaning substances are toxic and hazardous so using them can be a huge risk, particularly if there is an accidental spillage. When you combine baking soda and vinegar, no harmful gases or products are formed.
- Baking soda and vinegar are both excellent deodorizers. Many other toilet-related substances either smell pungent or their chemical reaction creates products that do.
- Both these materials come very inexpensive as opposed to harsh, chemical drain cleaners that are often very costly.
Unclogging a toilet with baking soda is not a novel or difficult method. It is widely used to unclog a toilet or a drain. However, following the right steps will ensure that you get the job done in minimum time with no damage to your toilet bowl.
- Check the water level in the toilet bowl and if necessary, adjust it. This is because having too little water might not clear the clog properly and too high of a level can lead to spills. A low level can be adjusted by adding boiling water and a high level can be reduced by taking out some water.
- Pour one cup of baking soda into your toilet bowl. Use a measuring cup to measure out roughly 240 ml. Let the baking soda sink to the very bottom of the toilet and sit there.
- Pour a gallon of boiling water into the toilet. This is done before adding the vinegar because minor clogs can usually be cleared with just baking soda. You can use a kettle for boiling purposes. At this point, the heat and pressure of the water might have cleared the clog and you might notice fast draining in the toilet bowl. If this happens, flush the toilet to see if this procedure worked.
- If it didn’t, the next step is to add vinegar. Pour 1 to 2 cups of vinegar into the toilet bowl. You have to perform this step very carefully because, at this point, the reaction between baking soda and vinegar will occur. Even though the reaction in itself isn’t violent, there is a lot of fizzing and bubbling. Make sure you add the vinegar in small amounts to avoid causing a splash due to the reacting chemicals. If the fizzing gets too high, stop pouring the vinegar and wait for the reaction to stop or subside. Note that it is this ‘volcanic reaction’ that generates enough force to unclog the toilet.
- Wait – the amount of time for which you let the mixture sit depends upon the state of the clog. Given that you’re already at this point and do not see any signs of an unclogged toilet, let the mixture sit for 2 hours in the toilet bowl. After this time has elapsed, see if the water has drained from the toilet. If it hasn’t, let the mixture rest overnight and then flush the toilet.
- Repeat the process multiple times if you don’t get your desired result on the first attempt.
- For tougher clogs, a helpful trick is to plunge the toilet 2 hours after the addition of baking soda and vinegar. Place the plunger over the middle of the toilet bowl and plunge it well a few times. If you hear a suction noise and notice the water draining, flush the toilet to see if the clog has cleared.
Once you think you have cleared the clog successfully, you can check it by flushing the toilet. It should make a fast suction sound and drain easily, indicating the success of this procedure.
If none of this works even after a few tries, you might need to call a plumber and use a professional unclogging service.
Once you have followed the above procedure and successfully unclogged your toilet, it is important to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. And with just a few steps and small precautionary measures, you can keep yourself from running into this messy problem again.
- Flush the toilet twice after each use to properly clear all waste and toilet better. Since some toilets have a limited flushing capacity, you need to flush once, wait for it to drain properly, and then flush again. Also, you can flush before using the toilet to clear it all the way.
- Make sure nothing but human waste and toilet paper is going down. Toilet plumbing is not meant to handle other substances and this can be a major cause of a clogged toilet. Thus, strictly avoid disposing of wet wipes, dental floss, or feminine hygiene products there.
- Use a limited amount of toilet paper for each flush. Oftentimes, plumbing problems are caused due to excessive amounts of toilet paper. You can also try using thinner varieties of toilet paper. Furthermore, try avoiding super-soft deluxe varieties because they are harder to break down and might lead to a clog.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use some other salt instead of baking soda?
Even though baking soda is technically a salt – scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate – it is the most effective for cleaning and unclogging purposes when combined with vinegar.
What amounts of baking soda and vinegar should I take?
While this depends upon the type of clog, generally speaking, one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar works very well.
Is the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar safe?
Yes. This reaction is not very violent. You will notice the mix bubbling and the formation of foam. The products of this reaction are carbon dioxide, water, and sodium acetate.
What kind of vinegar should I use with baking soda to unclog a toilet?
Any kind of vinegar that is easily available to you should work. Ideally, go for white vinegar.
Is it necessary to pour hot or boiling water down a clogged toilet or drain?
Hot water is usually poured before or after the cleaning procedure. Before the start of this process, it is added to try and unclog the toilet with just water. After the method, we often add hot water into the toilet to clear the mess created by the entire process.
How long should I wait while the mixture of baking soda and vinegar reacts and settles?
Wait for around 2 hours. You can also let the mixture rest overnight for optimal results. Basically, you need to wait until the water drains. Although many people only wait for a few minutes, a very difficult clog would require you to let the materials set for a few hours.
How do I know that the clog in the toilet has cleared?
If the toilet creates a fast suction sound and drains in a natural way when you flush it, it means that the clog has cleared properly.
Should I pour the entire baking soda and vinegar at once or in increments?
If the clog is minor, you should pour the entire mixture at once. If the clog is major, pour the materials in small increments. This is to avoid causing any huge mess due to the ongoing reactions in the toilet bowl.
What is the most probable cause of a clogged toilet?
Excessive toilet paper or the disposal of items not meant for toilet plumbing can lead to such clogs.
Arthur C. Jackson is the resident handyman and toilet expert for BestToiletGuides.com. Drawing from his experience, he tends to focus on how he can help the consumer.