An Easy Way to Unclog a Toilet With Baking Soda & Vinegar
Last Updated on August 3, 2023 by toilethaven
Baking soda and vinegar are effective cleaning agents, but you might not know that they are more than just cleaning agents. You can use these two products to successfully unclog a toilet without a plunger or a toilet auger.
To unclog a toilet using baking soda and vinegar, start by draining water from the bowl, then pour 1 cup of baking soda followed by 2 cups of vinegar. A fizzing reaction will take, which you wait to end, then dump a gallon of hot water in the bowl. Repeat the process if the toilet doesn’t unclog
Due to the design of a toilet, most of the time, the clogs are normally not too far off from the bowl outlet.
A toilet trap is the bottom-most part of the toilet located between the bowl and the drainpipe. It is S-shaped, which makes it one of the most important parts of the toilet. Here is how a toilet trap is important:
- Acts as an anti-clog agent. When you drop an object into the toilet bowl, it will not flow down the drain unless you flush the toilet. Even if you flush the toilet, there is a big chance it will get stuck in the trap, preventing it from clogging the drainpipe further down where it is more difficult to unclog.
- Creates the siphon effect during flushing. When you flush the toilet and the bowl fills with water, the trap creates the siphoning effect, and the waste is sucked into the drainpipe.
- Allows the toilet bowl to retail a small amount of water at the bottom. This water acts as a barrier and prevents sewer gases from entering your bathroom.
If you have a clogged toilet, chances are high that the clog is stuck in the trap. By pouring baking soda and vinegar down in the toilet bowl, they can act directly on the clog, breaking it down into smaller pieces that can then flow down the drain easily.
If the clog is way down in the drainpipe, baking soda and vinegar will most likely be unable to unclog the toilet. This is because the drainpipe will be full of water, so these products will not reach it.
How to Unclog a Toilet with Baking Soda and Vinegar
Just like any other method of unclogging a toilet, there is no guarantee that this method is going to unclog your toilet. If the toilet is clogged by something that cannot be broken down, then you will need to explore other alternatives.
Other than that, here is a step-by-step guide on how to unclog a toilet using baking soda and vinegar:
1. Drain the toilet
Most often, when you have a clogged toilet, the bowl will either be full or overflowing. It is even worse if the toilet contains poop and toilet paper.
Use a small cup to bail out the water and empty it in a bucket. Remove as much water as possible. Please remember to have on rubber gloves at all times.
Draining the bowl allows the baking soda and vinegar to work directly on the bowl instead of being diluted by the water in the bowl.
2. Add baking soda
After draining the bowl, pour 1 cup of baking soda inside the bowl. If you have borax in the house, you can use it too, but since it is stronger than baking soda, you should only use half a cup.
3. Add the vinegar
Vinegar is a mild acid, while baking soda is alkaline. When the 2 product combine, a fizzing reaction occurs. If you add the vinegar to the bowl abruptly, it will react aggressively with the baking soda, which might cause the toilet to start overflowing.
Pour 2 cups of vinegar into the toilet bowl to control the reaction rate. Wait for the reaction to run out of its cause and do its magic.
Note that the fizzing reaction ultimately leads to the toilet unclogging. Ideally, it would be best to let the baking soda and vinegar sit in the toilet bowl for about 15 minutes, but even 30 minutes is alright.
4. Dump a Gallon of Hot Water
As the reaction continues, boil about a gallon or more of water. While the baking soda and vinegar will break down the clog, hot water melts the clog even further, allowing it to flow down the toilet drain line.
When the water is boiling, dump it inside the toilet bowl. It will immediately start softening and breaking down any clog left, so wait about 5 minutes though sometimes you might see the results sooner.
5. Flush the toilet
When you check the toilet after 5 minutes, you will notice that the solution in the bowl has drained substantially or the level is still as you left it. Flushing the toilet might give the toilet a bit of pressure which might be just enough to unclog the toilet.
Before flushing the toilet, you will need to bail out some of the solution from the bowl; otherwise, your toilet bowl will overflow and make a mess of your bathroom.
If, after flushing the toilet, the water flows out quickly and powerfully, then you have just unclogged a toilet! If the water rises in the bowl and does not drain or drains slowly, you have more work to do.
Repeat step 1 or the way to step 5 and see if there is any change. If baking soda and vinegar don’t seem to do the trick for you, it is time to explore other ways to unclog a toilet.
6. Plunge the toilet
A plunger is a handy piece of equipment, especially when you have a clogged toilet. The best toilet plunger is the bell-shaped plunger. Unlike other drain plungers, a bell-shaped plunger has a small flange at the front that fits perfectly on the toilet bowl outlet.
Before proceeding to plunge, make sure that the water level in the bowl is at the half-full mark. This will prevent air from entering the plunger, which might inhibit its proper working. If the bowl is full, it will also prevent the water from splashing on your face.
Begin with a very gentle first plunge to set the plunger properly, then plunge up and down aggressively. Hopefully, the pressure and suction created will be enough to dislodge the clog.
If you do not have a plunger, here are other ways to unclog a toilet without a plunger.
Some clogs will, however, only be removed by a toilet auger. In that case, you will need to get hold of one.
7. Snake the toilet
A toilet auger is a flexible cable with a cranking handle and a spring-like head. It is 3 to 6 feet long and can unclog toilets by removing clogs in the toilet trap or drain pipe.
Unlike a plunger, an auger hooks and pulls out toilet clogs or breaks them down into smaller pieces which will easily flow down the drain.
A toilet auger is not as simple as a plunger or baking soda and vinegar. For a complete guide on how to use a toilet auger, please check out this post.
I have also written a guide on unclogging a toilet when nothing works. If that is where you are, I suggest you read the post here.
8. Call In a Plumber
Sometimes despite your best effort, a toilet will not unclog. Now, the only logical thing to do is to call a professional plumber. Plumbers are experts in their fields and will therefore know what to do.
The only thing about plumbers is that they are not cheap. Depending on what’s clogging your toilet, a plumber will ask for upward of 100 dollars to unclog it. Sometimes this figure can go up to 800 dollars if you have serious issues with your drainpipe.
Baking Soda and Vinegar vs. Other Toilet Drain Cleaners
There are very many drain cleaners that you may be tempted to use to unclog your toilet. A good example is Drano and muriatic acid.
Drano is a very useful product to unclog sinks or bathtub drains. It, however, should not be used to unclog a toilet, and even Drano manufacturer says as much.
Drano’s active agents are bleach and caustic. These 2 substances react exothermically, meaning heat is emitted. If Drano sits in the toilet trap for long, emitting this heat, the toilet will start to expand and ultimately crack.
The heat produced is also enough to soften and deform PVC drainpipes. For more information on why you should not use Drano to unclog a toilet, check this post out.
Regarding muriatic acid, if it sits in the toilet trap and the toilet is not unclogging, you might be tempted to use a plunger to unclog it. There is always a risk of the acid splashing in your face causing serious burns.
Flushing a toilet with acid in it is also very risky. Remember, we always add acid to water but not water to acid. Doing the opposite could lead to an explosion.
If you need to pour anything in your toilet to unclog it, enzyme-based toilet drain cleaners are your best bet. They are safer to use and not harsh on the environment.