How to Fix a Clogged Toilet When All Else Fails

We’ve all been there. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen at your girlfriend’s parents’ house or when there’s a long line to use the restroom at work, but wherever you encounter the need to fix a clogged toilet, it’s never fun. But even when you’re in the comfort of your own home, a stopped-up toilet bowl might mean you suddenly have nowhere to use the restroom. So let’s take a look at how to unclog a toilet when nothing works and you’re just about to your wit’s end with the plunger.

Thankfully, fixing a clogged toilet usually isn’t too difficult. Plunging doesn’t take too much effort or know-how. Real toilet repairs, on the other hand, are not for the faint of heart. We definitely encourage the DIY spirit for low-risk repair tricks — we’ll look at ways in a second to unclog a toilet when nothing else works — but in rare cases, you may have to say uncle and call your plumber for a toilet repair. In the words of Plumbing One’s Owner Donn Ogilvie, “It’s really about knowing when to say when.” And when it comes to impossible clogs that you have to pull the toilet away from the wall to fix, it’s probably best to hire someone.

“It’s really about knowing when to say when.”

— Donn Ogilvie, Plumbing One Owner

Make sure to go back and link the last section of “When to Call Your Plumber for a Toilet Repair” to this article. 


This will need to be a more in-depth look at everything to try to unclog a toilet before calling a plumber. What are the ways of doing that?


The answer to how to fix a clogged toilet may have many answers depending on the severity. But when nothing else is working, here are a couple of the last things to try before you start thinking about calling the plumber.

Dish soap

Any standard dish soap will do! Squeeze a few squirts of Dawn or whatever you have handy into your toilet bowl. Then let it sit. After about 10 minutes, go ahead and give the clogged toilet a flush. With some luck, the chemical cleaning agents from the soap will have broken up the obstruction.

If it doesn’t work the first time, you can give it another try. If it really doesn’t seem to be budging, however, give the next method a shot.

Hot water

Same idea here. You basically just want to carefully pour a gallon of hot water into the toilet bowl. Do not boil water for this as boiling water can be damaging to the porcelain of your toilet bowl. Wait 10 minutes. Then flush.

*You can also try combining dish soap and hot water to get the best of both worlds!

If none of these or any other methods you try will fix your clogged toilet, it may be a problem more difficult than a non-plumber should be dealing with.


Before we get into how to clear a toilet by removing it from the wall, let’s talk about the upsides and downsides.

What are the upsides of removing a toilet from the wall to repair a clogged toilet?

– Self-fulfillment
– Save $150 on a toilet repair service call

What are the downsides of removing a toilet from the wall to repair a clogged toilet?

– Might break the tank
– Might crack your floor tiles
– Might get wax all over your floor
– Way more than a $150 repair cost
– Might take your toilet out of commission for even longer, causing your family to resent and slowly phase you out of their lives entirely while giving you the cold shoulder and using the neighbors home to pee for a week.

But if you’re determined to elicit the hatred and disdain of your friends and family, who are we to stop you? As I said, we do LOVE the DIY spirit… just be careful!

Here are the steps if you really want to try this kind of fix alone. I recommend having a phone handy because if anything goes south, you’ll need a serviceman sooner rather than later.


Empty Bowl and Trap

Before you begin, it’s important to drain the water from your toilet bowl. Also ensure that the trap is empty of the waste that will be in there.

Run a Cable Down Backwards

You’ll want to run a cable down the line and backward through the toilet to knock loose debris.

Remove Debris

This is anything that may have gotten lodged down beyond the trap — often toys or spherical objects.

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A plumber working on the pipes on the underside of a bathroom sink.

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A plumber working on the pipes on the underside of a bathroom sink.