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Can you unclog a toilet with baking soda and vinegar?

To remedy a clogged toilet, try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Tien N. of Houston)

To remedy a clogged toilet, try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Tien N. of Houston)

A clogged toilet can be more than a minor inconvenience, particularly for homeowners who don't have a plunger handy. Fortunately, two simple household products may do the trick, with no harmful chemicals required.

Baking soda and vinegar have long been valued as natural cleaning agents, but when combined they also produce an important chemical reaction. You might recognize the "volcano" experiment from elementary science classes: build a volcano structure, and then add baking soda and vinegar to mimic the eruption. When combined, these two products create a powerful fizzing action that can do more than just produce an impressive amount of bubbles. It can also release even the most stubborn of clogs.

You might have heard about using baking soda and vinegar to unclog a sink. It turns out you can also use these products to unclog a toilet. The key to this process is to measure the ingredients carefully to keep them in the toilet bowl and avoid a small eruption on the bathroom floor.

Safety warning: Do not pour any vinegar or baking soda into your drain either before or after using a drain-cleaning product, such as Drano.

1. Assess the severity of the clog.

Before trying to unclog a toilet without a plunger, it's essential to recognize how bad the clog is. Typically, you'll want to use uqal parts baking soda and vinegar. For a minor clog, you should use the full amount of baking soda and vinegar at once. For a more severe clog, start by using smaller amounts in several increments. Because of the fizzing action that occurs, be sure to measure the ingredients carefully to prevent an overflow.

2. Scoop baking soda into the toilet.

For a minor clog, pour a full amount of baking soda into the toilet bowl. For a more severe clog, start with one fourth cup to one half a cup of baking soda.

3. Pour vinegar into the toilet.

Use equal parts of vinegar and baking soda. This means that for one cup of baking soda, use one cup of vinegar. Once you pour the vinegar into the toilet, it will combine with the baking soda and begin fizzing immediately. The fizzing will build up quickly but also subside quickly. Wait a couple of minutes while the baking soda and vinegar work together, and then move on to the next step.

4. Pour a kettle of hot water into the toilet.

Follow up the vinegar with a kettle full of hot water. Pour the hot water into the toilet bowl and check to see if the clog is released.

5. Repeat as necessary until the clog is released.

The clog is released when the toilet makes a quick suction sound and then drains naturally. Flush once or twice to clean out the bowl and to make sure the toilet is operating as it should.

If the toilet fails to unclog, consider hiring a plumber to resolve the situation.


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Comments

The best solution is to replace your toilet with a Toto toilet. Don't get the cheapest models, you need to buy one with a 2 inch throat rather than the standard 1.5 inch throat. Since we replaced our toilets we have never had a clogged toilet.

Yeah. Thanks everyone Hot water and dish soap Worked After three days Used plunger, baking soda and vinager - nothing worked!!! Wasn't going to call plumber!!' Too expensive !! Yes! Couldn't stand it anymore, afraid if toxic Chemicals ; so got on line for search Worked!!! Yes!! Dish soap and hot water worked!

I had a clogged toilet that my plunger wasn't releasing. After reading the comments here, I poured 1/4 bottle of dish soap into the full toilet bowl, (kept the water valve turned on), left the house for two hours and came back to a nearly empty bowl. Plunged it a bit, then poured 1/2 bucket of hot water from the bath tap in. Voila! Fixed. On another note- don't buy the cheapest plunger you see. Pay the $8 for a real toilet plunger- the kind with the flap (you can tuck that in for use in a sink). Makes a huge difference when your plunger doesn't flip inside out at every try.

Always use the dish liquid soap before you flush.....always works, always.

As a land lord I have had two things that could not be cleared by a plunger or a snake. First was a begonia plant leaf. Moved in and placed the plant on back of tank, leaf fell off and acted as valve. With a flush the volume of water would gradually go down. Plunger only acted as a temporary suction or pressure on the leaf. The snake just pierced the leaf but did not removed it. Had to pull the bowl. Very angry husband and new home for his mother's plant. 2nd was a tenant moving out that was too lazy to take his refrigerator stuff to the can so he flushed 3 large meatballs, that acted as ball valves. Ended up pulling bowl, shook out 2 meat balls placed bowl back on. Flushed and backed up again. Had to pull bowl again, this time manually checking for obstruction and found the 3rd meatball. Very, very angry husband. Found that things labeled flushable can cause problems too. Tampons are the worst.

Tried it and it works. For those of who are arguing that it won't because the Vinegar and Baking Soda neutralize eachother, the resulting reaction creates carbonic acid. This unstable product breaks down into CO2 bubbles and water. This is why you add the baking soda first as it needs to get to the clog before the reaction begins as the bubbles help break down the clogs.. It's not necessarily the acidity that's doing to work. In fact, it would take much, much longer to dissolve the clog in an acid alone, and you'd probably need something much stronger than vinegar! For those who can't seem to get this to work. make sure you add the the two reactants when there isn't much water in your toilet bowl as the solution becomes less effective when dilute.

This is obviously the real cause of CO2 in the air,, together with people and animal breathing. Stop breathing - no more polluting co2, with added benefit of no more clogged potties.

when toilet is clogged just fill the toilet all the way to top be careful not to over fill. the weight of the water will unclog it within 15min. to 24 hours. I use cold water but remember fill it to the top.

Guaranty it's in a bottle n in a plastic bag I usually live it over night n in the morning baking soda w white vinegar n then hot water even dog hair n my wife n daughters have long hair

Wow. Can't believe all the nay sayers. It works. I'm disabled & am physically unable to use a plunger. I live in an older home & despite every precaution, toilet gets clogged several times a year. I now keep a supply of vinegar & baking soda. If that doesn't work, I do the dishwashing liquid & WARM water method. In the 5 years I've been using these methods, they've never failed.

Come on! You got 2 gallons of water in the bowl. If you pour in a cup if baking soda, and a cup of vinegar, are you even going to get fizz? Seems like a pretty weak solution, to me. Seems to me, where your clog is (and what it is), says a lot about what you have to do to clear it.

Insert 4 packs of mentos , wait 5 minutes.bring one liter of coca cola or pepsi (your choice).pour coca cola or pepsi inside the toilet. Watch the chemical reaction work, done.

Most toilet clogs are in the toilet. Depending on "amount" and how much TP was used, the toilet will be clogged at the drain exit or in the trap. A plunger works best. However, try to find one that isn't made in China and is flexible after sitting around for years, especially if you live in a dry climate. Good luck with that. Since we live in usually dry Colorado, I keep mine wrapped in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out so bad that it looses its flexibility. MAYBE the accordion types will work better long term. Regardless, soap and hot water softens "things" up allowing the plunger to work better. Past the toilet, the clog is now in the line and I doubt anything that makes it through the toilet will clog the line unless it hits other obstructions that have been building up. That's when the line will back up and gross stuff starts coming out your laundry room floor drain or up into your bathtub or shower. The where depends on lowest height but it will always happens when company is over or at Thanksgiving dinner. What was not mentioned is how tree roots invade a sewer line, especially the older ones. After spending some notable $$$ to have my line de-rooted a few years ago, I now flush down 2lbs of Root Kill in early spring and late summer. It is actually just copper sulfate. You can buy it in bulk for much less. Google it. I also pour down a gallon of main line cleaner twice a year and then follow that up after a day or two by filling up every bathtub and sink, the washing machine and then draining them while simultaneously tuning on all the faucets and flushing all the toilets. lThe main line cleaner dissolves and softens stuff up and all the water then flushes it down the line into the sewer. In theory anyway. I haven't had my line scoped (they send a TV camera down the line) since the de-rooting where I did have before and after pictures.

Stools are sealed to the cast iron drain pipe with wax rings so plunging can break this seal and start leakage under the stool. Smelly at best and potential floor rotting at worst.

Use Main Line Cleaner. Buy two bottles from local hardware retailer. Use according to directions. For twenty bucks, you've saved a plumber's bill. Works great.

The simplest fix is water pressure. Empty the bathroom wastebasket (should be plastic water-holding bucket) while the water level in the bowl is going down, fill the bucket at the bathtub. When the water is near the normal level, hold bucket at shoulder level, pour in heavy stream into exit hole of bowl. Repeat. If that doesn't work, I use plunger with snout. Have to tip it to fill it with water first. Need strength to push down aggressively, repeatedly. Has never failed.

I spent several hour plunging the toilet and was unable to dislodge the clog. The toilet wasn't completely clogged, but was really slow. I tried baking soda and vinegar followed by warm water with no success. I did this several times. I finally read your suggestion about dumping hot water from a large bucket into the toilet bowl from shoulder height. I wasn't convinced that it would work, but was willing to try it rather than make an emergency call to a plumber on Thanksgiving weekend. SUCCESS!!!!! Thanks for the great tip.

I am on medication that causes very hard.....you know. Although I've so far been successful with clogs, I'd like to find a way to also clear the "pipes" as this is an ongoing issue that has been going on about a year. I've been unable to find any products for this type of issue and would really like try to do myself if possible. Thanks.

For you, with the medical problem, and for saying it's ongoing, I suggest you be proactive rather than reactive. I never have a clogged toilet bowl because I purchase cheap bottles of dish liquid for the bathroom. And each time I "go", I pour dish liquid in before I flush. Works every time.....keeps the bowl flowing. If I am out of that I use some of my shampoo. However I do have slow draining bathroom sink and tub...so I will be trying the soda a vinegar immediately.

Get two stool softeners to try. I use 50mg stool softener pills (colace) and 8mg pills of sennosides, I have needed them for years and you need to try something. Always start with a couple and take more as needed.

Fill up a small plastic trash bucket with warm water from your shower, then pour it slowly into the toilet bowl. Sometimes it works right away and sometimes it takes 2 or 3 buckets to loosen the clog. Use a plunger very gently after the 2nd failed attempt, and oftentimes that additional pressure is enough to unclog. No chemicals, hot water or snakes...just water and a lot of care to do it slowly and very gently.

Went outside and punched hole in sewer pipe. Ran hose 30 to 50 feet to a clog. removed hedge and roots never had another sewer clog.

The baking soda and vinegar trick will not unclog a toilet. Baking soda (a base) and vinegar (an acid) combine to produce CO2. That is the "fizzy" gas. It is nothing more than bubbles that will go straight up and out of your toilet as the baking so "neutralizes" the acidic vinegar. What is really unclogging the toilet is the hot water. Not to sound gross, but the hot water will help dissolve the poo a little faster. The vinegar could help a little because it is a weak acid, but probably not much. Save yourself the trouble, cost and additional stink of vinegar. Pour in the hot water, let it soak in and it should take care of it. The baking soda and vinegar just looks like it is doing something, but it really isn't.

All comments below advocate applying pressure from above AGAINST the clog. This can make the problem worse. Instead, use your plunger to seal the drain, then keeping it in place, flush. When the bowl has most of the new water in it, briefly lift the plunger to let some water in, reseal the drain pushing all the way in and SUDDENLY, pull the plunger straight UP. This "pulls" the plug and often will free the drain in one or two pulls.

A TRUE, HARD, LOG CLOG HAS HAPPENED IN MY HOUSE ON MULTIPLE TIMES... WHICH IS A PAIN IN THE ASS, WHEN THERE ARE 4 PEOPLE AND 1TOILET...SO, SOMEONE I KNEW, TOLD ME TO PUT BLEACH IN THERE...SO, I DID AND IT WORKED...BUT, IT DEPENDS ON HOW BAD THE CLOG IS AND HOW LONG IT IS LEFT THERE... THE SOONER YOU POUR THE BLEACH IN, THE QUICKER IT UNBLOCKS THE CLOG.. FIRST PLUNG IT....IF THAT DOESN'T WORK, THEN POUR THE BLEACH IN.... JUST POUR, THERE'S NO RIGHT AMOUNT.... LET IT SIT FOR AWHILE... GO BACK AND FLUSH... AS YOU FLUSH, START PLUNGING.... USUALLY, THAT'S ALL IT TAKES... BUT, IF IT HAS BEEN CLOGGED UP FOR AWHILE, IT WILL TAKE SOME TIME FOR THE BEACH TO WORK... BUT, IT DOES WORK... GOOD LUCK!!!

Don't use bleach in your toilet if you are on a septic system. The bleach can kill the natural enzymes in a septic tank and possibly cause the septic to fail. If you do use bleach to clear a clog, I would recommend adding an enzyme to the septic afterwards.

If the water in your toilet bowl is 50 degrees (like it is from a deep well), and you pour hot water into the bowl, you will very likely cause the bowl to crack. I have seen this happen.

First step - If you father was anything like mine, you knew that you tried to convince him to use the bathroom at the mexican restaurant before heading home after "family taco night". The man at age 60 was a human Sakrete dispenser. A family legend that lives on today through the stories. Anyway - we always kept one of those "accordian" type plungers by the head and it always solved the problem. I do like the dish washing detergent idea however as it would lubricate the sides of the bowl and the exit drain to the sewer or septic tank

@ Scott: Your comment was both entertaining and educational. In my mind, I can see your family gathered around the camp fire to keep the family legend alive. Making sure the children are paying attention. This is the story, of Sakrete Man....... in perpetuity. :)

You are both hilarious and cracked me up!!

Had cloged toilet tried plunger still only slow drainage. Called plummer did snake still slow drainag. Pulled toilet found a new bar of soap in the box had gotten into the toilet, not sure which one did it. Had to turn toilet over in yard, a little snake work and a lot of water spraying before enough opf the soap loosened and the came out; the soap had soffened some in the water and become trapped in the trap top of the toilet and fused to the top of the trap. Probably took a while of use before all the soap was gone. Now try to keep soap boxes out of reach.

I ALSO GOT ONE OF THOSE GADGETS THAT YOU PUMP AND IT WORKS WONDERS. ITS WORTH THE $20 I PAID FOR IT.

I have used the vinegar and baking soda many times in my bathroom sink and it worked fine but I have not used it in the toilet. I would be considernced about cracking the toilet with the hot water BUT one person said use water as hot as tea water NOT boiling. That might be the answer BUT use caution. It could cost a bunch if it does crack it.

A plunger is a requirement of life.

I have run across toilets that due to their design are not sealable with a plunger. ( Hole is square or elongated). In this case, unless you are lucky enough to have a snake and know how to use it, chemicals may be your only choice. I like the dishsoap plan but I have found that you can clear most clogs by forcefuly dumping a bucket of water into the bowl. Make sure you don't exceed your bowl capacity and overflow. The hydraulic action of the water will normally break it loose with out hot water. You get a more forceful push by NOT flushing the tank and you can control the amount of water entering the bowl. This method works best if the bowl is near empty

I am dealing with a clogged toilet and will give many of these suggestions a try. Will start with the dish washing liquid, if that doesn't work, will try the vinegar and baking soda. I guess I can take a toilet off and snake or pour the mainline cleaner down, hope I can handle the smell.

There seems a lot of misinformation happening about how to unclog a toilet bowl. If you Google the question, you will not get the answers found here. First, the simplest and most often advice is to, yes, use a plunger. If that doesn't work, pour in a quarter to half cup of dish washing liquid. Then pour, from chest high, a kettle of hot water--not boiling which could crack the toilet, but about the temp of hot tea. Wait about 10 to 15 minutes and you will most likely see it unclog. This works. If you doubt it, go to the expert, Mr. Google.

Use a plunger. I have one of those so-called uncloggable toilets. Yeah right. It took me quite a while with a plunger; after about 15-20 minutes of plunging; it finally worked its way loose. If that doesn't work; they also make these toilet augers, from any hardware store so you do not have to disconnect the bowl.

In the event one lives in a multi story apartment complex, the problem could be from another apartment. This happened to us once. The blockage was in the apartment below us, thus backing up our pipes.

Years ago in San Francisco , We were leaving on the third floor , and the kitchen sink got clogged , the handyman used straight sulphuric acid it worked wonder even removed the 80 years old cast iron enamel ate thru the pipe and dump the sludge in the kitchen 3 floors below , she was on a trip , fun thing about one month later same situation , landlord finally got a professional , his equipment got tangle with an old "snake" broken in the drain , give or take 100 feet , it went fine for a while then clogged again , back to the roof and guess what he picked up another 100 feet of cable , we had given up on the lease ....

Most soft waste and toilet tissue will eventually go down ...let sit for 6 hours or so....plunging often.. let sit more hours...then the material will actually break down and go down. This vinegar baking soda makes for a sweeter smelling toilet but that's about it...and hot water in a Cold toilet bowel is like said chancy at best to break or cracking a bowel....you can buy a snake plunger combo these days yourself...find on line or go to Home Depot etc. or plumbing shop every home needs this tool no matter how much baking soda you have ....Plunging is about the only trick I know of...Buy a Plunger.

if someone is going to wait 6 hours, it might pay to have a backup available. understanding neighbors would be helpful.

Clean the toilet, yes. Unclogg it I don't think so.

I have the infamous low flow type that gets stuck too easily. I keep a little device I bought at Lowes nearby, it hasn't failed me once. It's a $20 plastic tool with a variety of rubber stoppers you place on one end. You can use the device for sinks, tubs, also it has the stoppers to fit each. The other end has a pump, you extend push extend again until you have built up some serious air pressure in the middle portion we might call a chamber. Then you place the seal over the exit hole at the toilet bottom and release the air pressure. No chemicals and NO it won't blow out any gaskets. A $10 device that extends a small snake about 3 ft with a handle on the other end to give it a twisting motion works also. The plunger isn't going to clear a serious clog, but it may flood your home.

Stupid advice. Keep a bottle of dish soap in the bathroom. Squirt some in the bowl if you get a clog. Works like a champ about 90% of the time. If no luck with this, get the plunger. If the bowl level is higher than normal, wait until the level recedes before you flush again. Many people panic and flush again when they see the bowl fill to near the top.All that does is add more water to the bowl and causes it to overflow.

we have used a squirt or two of dish detergent.. works in our house,, unless it's a toy, or an object...breaks down the paper......

I came across a much easier way to unclog they stopped up toilet: dishwashing liquid. I've used it successfully at least half a dozen times over the past 10 years or so. A couple of times I was on the verge of calling a plumber when I decided to search for a possible alternative and came across the dishwashing liquid fix. It's gentle, does not involve using any dangerous chemicals and actually smells nice. Perhaps the only negative aspect of using it is that it creates a lot of suds. Simply try to plunge the toilet so that the existing water will run out. Then add several ounces, maybe three or four, of the dishwashing liquid and plunge it again. You may have to do it a couple of times but eventually you'll hear everything loosen up and it will run through and the clog will be gone! The last time I used it was at least a year ago. Since the worst part of it is dealing with all of suds, there's really no reason not to try it. The worst that could happen is that you spend a few bucks on some dishwashing liquid only to find that didn't work, and then you can call the plumber. While I'm on the subject of quick, cheap household fixes, I have a real good one for eliminating anthills: pour a large pot full of boiling water directly on the hill and within a day it will be gone…

for a plugged toilet simple...grab some septic field cleaner...a small amount over-night...clog is GONE that hot water into toilet is...a good try...but water in it will cool the hot water use a hose from shower....directly down into the clog turn on full tilt for < 10 seconds!! hot water? into the out-house? maybe...

The moist useless thing in most homes is the flat bottomed usually hard red rubber plunger, especially when it comes to toilets! Buy yourself a good force cup with an extended snout to fit down into the toilet neck and create a seal. Then learn how to use it! Fill the cup with as much water as you can when you insert it into the toilet (air compresses, water doesn't!) then force down hard - keep the seal and pull up to create a vacuum. then back down again. Work the captured water up and down until the clog either goes down, or comes back up! A force cup works by creating a moving column of liquid above the clog, acting like a battering ram to break the clog loose. If all you are doing is pushing air and blowing bubble you are wasting your time!

Hot water in a toilet bowl... possible cracking ... bit, more likely melt or deform the wax seal between the toilet bowl and the floor... you will know when the odors start staying around.

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