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Unclogging a toilet with baking soda and vinegar

There’s probably nothing more panic-inducing for a homeowner than a clogged toilet. Not only could you suffer potential water damage from an overflowing toilet, but an out-of-use toilet is a major annoyance. Don’t worry; the fix could be simpler than you think. Did you know that baking soda could come to the rescue even when a plunger may not work? There’s a quick and easy way to use this method to get rid of a clog.

Clogged toilet causes

You know your toilet is clogged when you flush and water refills the bowl but it doesn’t drain or it drains slowly. A clogged toilet can happen for many reasons:

Hard water

As the water flows into the toilet bowl, the minerals — especially calcium — stick to the jets. Over time, this can clog them, which causes less water to flow and an inefficient flush. With less pressure behind your flush, the more likely the toilet is to get clogged.

Worn pipes

Corrosion, age, wear and tear, and drastic temperature changes can all affect your pipes, which can cause your toilet’s drain to slow down and be unable to keep up with your household’s demand. As a result, you get a clogged toilet.

Blocked plumbing vent pipe

A vent pipe moves external air into the plumbing system to replace the air that is pumped out with each flush. Air pressure within a pipe needs to be regulated through a vent in order for water and waste to move through a pipe. A blocked air vent stops or slows flow through pipes. This would prevent a toilet from flushing properly.

Toilet paper

Too much toilet paper is flushed down the toilet.

Nonflushable items

Nonflushable items are flushed down the toilet – such as hygienic wipes, baby wipes, makeup remover wipes, paper towels, etc.

Main sewer line

Main sewer line Issues, such as cracked/broken/collapsed sewer line or a sewer line with holes that lets in dirt and rocks that can block the line.

Too little water in the tank

When the tank doesn’t contain enough water, it doesn’t release as much water as it should when flushed. You’ll notice a weaker flush, or water may enter your toilet bowl without starting a flush at all.

Note: These clogs have varying degrees of severity and solutions. So while vinegar and baking soda may help with too much toilet paper, it probably won’t help with anything in your main sewer line.

Use baking soda and vinegar to unclog a toilet

If you’re ready to try a little chemistry, let’s get started:

Check the water level in the bowl

You’ll want the bowl to be about halfway full before you begin the unclogging process. If the water is too low, add hot or boiling water until the bowl is half full or a little more. If the water level is too high, then you’ll (unfortunately) have to scoop some out to prevent spillage. The next part of this experiment will be more fun.

Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the bowl

Slowly pour 1 cup of vinegar into the bowl

Get ready for the mixture to start fizzing. If you pour too quickly, the reaction could cause the mixture to overflow onto your bathroom floor. Use your instincts; if it looks as if 1 cup is going to cause too much fizz, use less or pour more slowly.

Allow the fizz to sit for at least 20 minutes

Now let’s see whether it worked. Once the clog is broken up, the water level should go down. You may also see bubbles as the pressure changes. If you see these signs, it’s safe to flush the toilet to check your work. (In case you judged incorrectly, be ready to turn the water shut-off valve behind the toilet.)

If the clog still seems to be intact, start over at step 1 and repeat the process a couple of times. For extra-stubborn clogs, you can let the fizz mixture sit overnight or combine this method with plunging.

Note: For a minor clog, pour the entire amount of baking soda at once. For a stubborn clog, try pouring smaller amounts of baking soda in increments to avoid additional overflowing of the toilet when the fizzing action begins. Remember to use equal parts of vinegar and baking soda. So match every 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of vinegar.

How to prevent toilet clogs

If this at-home remedy worked, you’re in luck! But either way, you’ll want to prevent clogs in the future. Here are some ways to avoid this unwanted issue:

Don’t use too much toilet paper

Using too much toilet paper is one of the most common causes of a clogged toilet. Toilet paper is made to dissolve, but it doesn’t dissolve instantly. When there is too much paper all at once, it may not be able to pass through either the P trap or the floor drain. If more paper is needed than the toilet can hold, flush the toilet, use more toilet paper, then flush again.

Don’t use the toilet as a garbage disposal

People might think it’s OK to flush small particles of food down the toilet. While occasionally you may be able to get away with this, when you repeatedly put food down a toilet, it will eventually get clogged. It is better to put the food, even soggy food, into a plastic garbage sack and take it outside to the dumpster or trash can. And don’t ever flush grease! The cool water in the toilet will solidify grease almost instantly.

Avoid flushing foreign objects

A toilet was meant to carry waste and toilet paper down the drain. It was never intended to be used as a trash can. Avoid putting anything in the toilet other than what’s intended to go in it. This means don’t flush baby wipes (even if they’re advertised as “flushable”), cotton swabs or feminine hygiene products.

Keep the lid closed

This will keep everything from a small toy to a dropped toothbrush out of the toilet and prevent a possible clog.

Get a remote diagnosis with Anew

If a toilet continues to be clogged, it might be symptomatic of a more serious issue, and you might want to consider hiring a professional. Anew offers an easy, efficient and affordable repair service with remote diagnosis for only $20.

Get a remote diagnosis

Video chat with an expert to pinpoint your home’s issues, then get them repaired fast.

Start My Repair

Get a remote diagnosis

Video chat with an expert to pinpoint your home’s issues, then get them repaired fast.

Start My Repair

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