There are few sights more terrifying than that of rapidly rising toilet water pushing its way to the top of the bowl. The horror increases tenfold if you can't find a plunger because you're at a friend's house. Or worse, the home of a business acquaintance. You may be tempted to escape through a window and start a new life in a faraway country.

Fortunately, that's not necessary. There are several techniques for unclogging a toilet without a plunger in the case of a toilet-related emergency. We hope you never have to use them, but we've listed them here because it's important to make sure you're covered if you do.

Everybody deserves to be able to use the restroom and emerge with their social standing intact, including you. This article will prepare you to unclog a toilet without a plunger if life throws you a curveball.

A bathroom with a skylight.

What To Do Right Away

But first things, first. If the water is still rising, you need to put a stop to it immediately before you end up with a worse situation on your hand. It's your job to turn off the water before it spills over the sides of the toilet and the situation goes from bad to worse. Here's what you need to do:

  • Remove the toilet lid
  • Keep your hand poised near the float (the skinny rod with a chain and a rubber ball at the end).
  • If the water stops, replace the lid because thank goodness it didn't overflow
  • If it appears it will overflow, pull back the float.
  • With your other hand, reach down and turn off the water (the little valve towards the bottom of the wall in back of the toilet)
toilet valve

Now you're ready for six easy ways to unclog a toilet without a plunger.

1. Soap

Three bars of soap and two handmade wash cloths.

Soap has an amazing ability to dissolve toilet clogs without the aid of a plunger. And luckily, pretty much every bathroom contains some type of soap. If you're in a bathroom with liquid soap, pump approximately a quarter cup into the toilet. Shampoo will work also.

If you're in a bathroom with bar soap, cut the soap into tiny pieces before sprinkling it into the toilet bowl. If you're MacGyver, you most certainly have a pocket knife handy. If you're not, you'll have to use your fingernails or ask your host for a sharp utensil. This will probably have to be accompanied by an explanation for your request so should be avoided if possible.

The soap will break up the clog. This could happen right away or in several hours depending on the severity of the clog. If you want to speed things up, a gallon of hot water should expedite the process.

2. Bath Salts

A jar of bath salts.

If you're in a half bath or powder room, chances are slim you'll have a jar of bath salts handy. But if you're in a full bath, you might luck out. The two most likely places to find them are under the sink or on the edge of the bathtub. A bath bomb or bath fizzers will do nicely, too.

Simply drop the bomb, fizzer, or sprinkle approximately a quarter cup of bath salts into the toilet bowl. If the clog is minor the salts will fizz and break it up. If the clog, is major, however, the salts may take up to eight to work their magic which means you'll probably have to confess to your host.

3. Hot Water

A stainless steel faucet.

If you're trapped in a bathroom without a plunger, the good news is you're still likely to have hot water. And pouring two gallons of piping hot water into the toilet will often eliminate the clog. The bad news is, you may have to ask for a cup. Even if there's one available, your host may wonder why you're running the faucet for so long. If you want to keep your activity on the down low, sing loudly while the water is running.

4. Toilet Brush

A toilet brush and toilet.

Hopefully your host in the cleanly type. If so, they probably have a toilet brush somewhere in the vicinity of the toilet. That toilet brush is your new best friend. It's possible to break up a toilet clog using a toilet brush instead of a plunger.

This method requires a little bit of muscle, however, and you'll have to get more up close and personal to the clog than you're likely to prefer.

Take the brush end and force it into the drain hole. You'll want to move slowly. Abrupt movements might force the gross toilet water back into your face. Pull the brush in and out of the hole, again, avoiding all but the smoothest of movements. After a few pumps, the water should drain.

5. Bleach

Many jugs of bleach.

You can also unclog a toilet without a plunger by using bleach. And although your host might not have a jug of the stuff in their bathroom, many cleaning products contain bleach, particularly tile and mildew cleaners. If you're unsure, just take a whiff. There's no mistaking that smell.

Pour 2-3 cups of bleach in the toilet. Like most of the other methods, the length of time it needs to sit there depends on the severity of the clog.

Tip: You can also combine forces and use bleach in conjunction with the soap method.

6. Wire Hanger

A wire hanger with an orange background.

Chances are you didn't have a hanger on your person when you stepped into the bathroom. But if you're lucky there might still be one available because many people hang clothes to dry on their shower rods. If not, you may be able to sneak into an adjacent closet without being spotted.

Once you've secured a wire hanger. You'll want to untwist it so it's in the shape of a line. Use the hanger to push the clog clear of the toilet bowl and into the pipe. It's similar to the toilet brush method, but not nearly as gross because the length of an opened hanger allows you to keep some distance between you and the toilet bowl.

We hope you never have to use these fixes. But we're glad you know them if you do.

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