A clog in your toilet is a regular experience. The normal way to clear it up is by using a drain cleaner with heavy chemicals. If you want to be eco-friendlier, here are some ways to unclog it without using any dangerous chemicals.
When a clog blocks your toilet, the usual approach is to pour softening chemicals down the clogged toilet and waiting for it to resolve itself. However, there are quite a few side effects that happen when you do so. The most powerful drain cleaners are very acidic and damaging. This is because most of them have lye and sulfuric acid in their mixture. These are really effective at removing most substances. However, when you pour it into your toilet to unclog it, this leads to all of that harmful material entering the sewage system.
These chemicals then end up in the local water system. With local animals drinking and bathing in it, they could get sick from exposure. It’s not just animals. Plants are also exposed to these chemicals. The result is dying plants and animals, which is a serious blow to the ecosystem.
These should not be the results of you trying to unclog a toilet. Fortunately, it is possible to get clogs out with simple solutions that don’t resort to harmful chemicals.
Here are several ways you can do so without needing to spend much money or endanger the environment. All of these are simple and effective remedies.
Top Ways To Unclog a Toilet (Chemical-Free)
The Dependable Plunger
The most common solution to a clog is to use a plunger. Plungers create a wave of positive pressure that moves and usually breaks up the clog so that it can be flushed properly. Before everything, make sure that you buy the right sort of plunger. Get a high-quality plunger that is ball-shaped or has a fold-out rubber flange. The basic plunger that you see on TV is probably the worst plunger you can use since it does not generate as much suction.
Next, ensure that you have newspapers and paper towels around the floor of your toilet. A plunger requires vigorous motion and it may end up splashing some of the water around. You should also wear gloves. A plunger is a pretty simple product but with so many on the market, it can be confusing, if you are shopping for a new plumber check out our top picks for best plungers here.
For removing the clog, insert the plunger in the toilet’s hole, completely covering it. You then start the plunging motion that will draw the clog out. You will eventually see results in 15 to 20 plunges, with the toilet water draining. You can then flush everything out to test if it works.
Tip: make sure you’re using the right kind of plunger – see image above. A toilet plunger has a rubber flange that creates a seal- you won’t get the same results with a kitchen plunger. Our favorite plunger on the market is this one by Korky – it’s well made and effective.
The Impromptu Wire Hanger
You can also clear a clogged toilet with a simple wire coat hanger. If you think the clog is near the entrance, but too stubborn for a plunger, you can unfold a wire hanger and insert it in the hole to break up the clog and loosen it.
You can do this by unfolding the wire hanger. One end should then be wrapped in a rag and secured with a bit of duct tape. This is an important step since the bare metal wire can easily scratch the a porcelain toilet and leave permanent damage.
When clearing out the clog, you should be wearing gloves. Then insert the ragged end into the hole. Just push it inside the hole and try to force the clog aside. You will immediately see the results if you get rid of the clog. Again it’s a solution when you don’t have the proper tools. To be prepared for your next clog we suggest a residential plumber’s snake – see the next suggestion on the list.
A Plumber’s Snake
The next step up is the plumber’s snake. It works on the same principle as the wire hanger. If the wire hanger cannot reach the clog, then the plumber’s snake will most likely reach it. In the past, plumber’s snakes were just simple coils of wire, however, nowadays, you can find better versions. While in the past it was reserved for professional plumbers, you can now find affordable plumber’s snakes for residential use.
While there are still obvious reasons for calling a qualified licensed plumber for real plumbing work, a clogged toilet can often be resolved without paying for a service call, and between a plunger and a snake you should be able to get more household clogs resolved.
If you’re unclogging a toilet, get the closet auger version. This has the coil stored in a long plastic rod, which also provides an excellent way to control the coil. Unclogging a toilet using this is similar to the wire hanger approach. Just insert one end of the auger into the hole, and then deploy the snake. You do this by rotating the wire via the handle on one end. The plumber’s snake has a barbed end that is designed to grind any clog into smaller pieces for easy removal.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
If you don’t want to use mechanical means of removing the clog, there are non-harmful chemicals that can be used. One of the simplest and most popular clog removal solutions is a simple mix of baking soda and vinegar.
Actually, for minor clogs, you’ll only need baking soda. Just pour in one cup of baking soda and minor clogs should be removed. However, for more serious clogs, you are going to need to mix it with vinegar. Pour in the baking soda and follow it up with two cups of vinegar. The mix of the acid and the base will create a solution that will bubble and up and eat through the clog. You’ll need to be patient, as it’s not as strong as toxic chemicals – it needs some extra time to take effect. You may also need to repeat the process and do this multiple times until the clog is removed.
Another eco-friendly solution is the simple solution of boiling hot water. Water is a universal solvent, and being at high temperatures makes it more effective at dissolving things. Heat up a bucket of boiling water or at least very hot water; pour it into the toilet bowl and let it sit there for some time. However, I would only recommend this for minor clogs.
Natural Enzyme Declogger
One of the greenest solutions is the use of enzyme products. These are usually a mix of enzymes that help liquefy waste material. They’re pretty easy to get and they are totally safe. They only work on organic materials though. Just follow the instructions and pour the mix into the toilet to let it do its magic.
Powerful Wet Vacuum
If you really want something heavy-duty, you can use a wet vac to remove the clog. A wet-dry vacuum can suck up both water and solid pieces that clog your toilet. This 6-Gallon DeWalt is powerful but a lot lighter and easy to carry around compared to older model shop-vacs. We use this same model to winterize our cabin and dry out all the water lines to all the way from the bathroom to the septic tank to make sure there’s no water left in the pipes to freeze in the winter.
The first step is to suck up all the water in the toilet. This clears the way for further suction and removes any worries about water splashing around. You then shift to dry mode and insert the vacuum into the toilet hole. You then simply turn on the suction to suck in the offending clog inside. Note that you need to make a seal around the hole so that you get maximum suction. Run for a minute or so to ensure that the clog is gone. Of course, if you have a clog with human waste in the toilet this can get ugly, you’d have to be prepared with gloves and a mask and also be ready to sanitize it after. It’s a good solution but messy clean-up so we left it to the end of our list as a last option.
Be smart and safe
With these seven methods of clog removal, you won’t need to resort to harmful chemicals to clear out your clogged toilet. Use them the next time you need a clean way to get rid of a clog.
Featured Image by Gary J. Wood
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