If you’re in the position of needing to unblock your toilet. You have my deepest sympathy. It’s not a nice position to be in and it’s usually first thing in the morning when you’re bleary-eyed.

Step 1 – Don’t panic

Step 2 – Stop panicking!

Step 3 – Do not flush a second time or the toilet bowl will overflow – nightmare!


Lift off the cistern lid and close the toilet flapper. It’s a round stopper on a chain that lets water into the cistern. You can breathe a bit now as the water level will stop rising.

Place newspaper or old towels around the toilet base to soak up unpleasant splashes.

Put a bucket next to the loo so you can put ‘the blockage’ in there – it was baby wipes, wasn’t it? Naughty! They need to go in the wastebasket.

Put on rubber gloves. You need to protect yourself against germs.

Can you see what is blocking the toilet? If so roll up your sleeves, put your hands in and pull it free.

If not, grab the plunger. Most toilet emergencies can be fixed with these underrated anti-blockage tools.

If you don’t have one your local supermarket is likely to stock them. Don’t worry, the toilet won’t overflow while you’re out getting it because the flapper is closed.

Plungers seal tight when you press down. They can be stiff and hard work so it’s a good idea to soak yours in hot water to soften the rubber.

Put the plunger in the toilet bowl. It needs to cover the pipe completely and be submerged beneath the waterline. Add water from the bucket if yours isn’t covered.

Now push down slowly and pull up sharply. Hard work isn’t it? Pulling up sharply will help dislodge the blockage so the harder you can pull upwards the better.

Sometimes you are blessed and a few plunges will clear the obstruction but more often you’ve got to put in the work. No gym for you tonight.

Push and pull the plunger rapidly until you can see the water draining free.


Once it’s drained replace the flapper and flush the loo. If the water level rises again you need more plunger action as the blockage has just been pushed further down.

If Plunger-Action Fails

Sometimes no matter how hard you try the plunger can’t shift the blockage. If that happens don’t worry. You can create a potion Harry Potter style.

Commercial drain cleaners are full of harsh chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Make your own with half a gallon (that’s two and bit litres) of hot water with baking soda and vinegar.

  • Pour a cup of baking soda down the loo
  • Pour in two cups of vinegar
  • It’ll fizz and start to break down the blockage
  • Pour the hot water from hip height. The force will help push blockages along
  • Leave it overnight to clear the pipes.

Last resort!

Buy a snake.

That’s a plumbing snake! It’s a tool that plumbers use to clear hard blockages.

Fashion your own from a wire coat hanger if you have any in the house. Its purpose is to reach the hard blockage and break up the obstruction. Use it liberally and flush.

It Just Won’t Clear

If you’ve tried all of the above and still no joy it’s time to call a professional.

Unblocking the toilet is a fairly common problem that you can usually solve at home with a plunger.

The key is not to panic and double flush as this causes a flood. Close the flapper and calmly solve the blockage with your plunger, potion, or snake.

Good luck!

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