How to Snake a Toilet with a Hanger

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Is your toilet clogged and you don’t have any tools in the house to fix it? Not even an old toilet plunger, much less a toilet snake?

Before you panic and do something you might regret later on (like calling in a plumber and spending a lot of money), here’s a quick tutorial on how to snake a toilet with a hanger. Sounds like an obscure way to fix a clogged toilet, but hey, it works.

How did I come around to discovering this weird trick, you may ask?

How to Snake a Toilet with a Hanger

Well, it all started way back in college when I shared a house with three other people. Of course, not everyone is familiar with the concept of throwing out their toiletries in the garbage can and not the toilet. Hence, a massively clogged throne.

Being a clump of broke college students, we couldn’t afford to hire a professional plumbing service to unclog our toilet. We didn’t have a plunger lying around either.

Lo and behold -- with the help of some Internet searching-- I came across a tutorial on how to use a hanger to unclog a toilet. Now I’m here, ready to share the same wisdom with you.

How to snake a toilet with a hanger

A traditional toilet snake, or toilet auger, is a metallic plumbing tool that uses a snake-like coil to move down the drain of the toilet. 

The head of the auger serves to loosen the clog and/or push the blockage further down the drain, or to pull the blockage up and out of the toilet. It’s a pretty convenient way to get rid of stubborn clogs (that won’t budge with regular plungers) without having to use harsh chemicals to dissolve it.

However, not everyone has a toilet snake laying around in their supply closet. And if you’re only going to use it once or twice, some people won’t see the value in their investment.

coat hanger

If you don’t want to use a toilet snake or have no means of getting one right now, you can try using something that’s always present in the house -- a simple wire hanger.

What you need:

  • Wire hanger
  • Rubber gloves
  • Cleaning products
  • Rags
  • Drain cleaner

1. Prepare your tools

Raid your supply closet for some gloves, cleaning products, drain cleaner, and some old rags. Then, go to your closet and take an old wire hanger. Make sure that this hanger won’t be missed (and no one will be looking for it!).

Then, unwind the wire coat hanger completely except for the hook. After the wire coat hanger is unraveled, wrap an old rag around the end of the metal. This will prevent the wire from scratching the porcelain of the toilet.

2. Try to lubricate the clog

Since we won’t be using any fancy toilet unclogger tools, it is best to lubricate the clog first. You can do this by using regular dish soap or drain cleaner.

Pour a liberal amount of dish soap or a small amount of drain cleaner in the toilet and let it do its job for a few minutes. This will make it easier for the hanger to loosen up the clog stuck in the drain.


3. Try to dislodge the clog with the hanger

While wearing gloves, hold the makeshift hanger unclogger by the hook part. Then, insert the other end into the toilet drain.

Rattle the hanger around gently to dislodge whatever is blocking the drain. You may also push the hanger back and forth to loosen the clog.

Once the toilet water starts going down, try testing out the flush and see if the water drains out completely. If not, you may have to put in more work using the hanger.

4. Do another unclogging measure

Let’s face it; a makeshift wire hanger may not be enough to completely unclog a toilet.

Yes, it may dislodge the obstruction enough for the water level to go down, but there still may be debris left stuck in the drain.

To avoid having to go through sticking your hand in the toilet again, do another easy unclogging procedure. I personally recommend using simple household items like dish soap, hot water, baking soda and vinegar, or drain cleaner items that dissolve organic material.

Dish soap and hot water 

Pour a good amount of dish soap in the toilet and let it sit for about half an hour. Then, pour about a gallon of hot water (not boiling) while being careful not to overflow the toilet. Dish soap and hot water do a good job at lubricating debris, letting it be flushed down the drain.

Baking soda and vinegar

Pour an entire box of baking soda in the toilet. Then, gradually pour a good amount of vinegar. The chemical reaction that arises from the combination of vinegar and baking soda can help get rid of debris.

baking soda

Drain cleaners

To get rid of material build-up in the drain (that can ultimately cause another clog), use commercial drain cleaners if the above options don’t work. These chemicals can cause harm to the environment, so use them only if it’s absolutely necessary.

5. Clean-up

Obviously, you can’t reform the hanger and use it again to hang clothes. The best thing to do is to wrap it up in a garbage bag and throw it out.

Alternatively, you can sanitize it with hot water and disinfectant soap if you want to use it just in case the toilet gets clogged again. Don’t forget to wipe down the toilet and the surrounding area if you have made any splashes.

Conclusion: Unclogging a Toilet with a Hanger

If your toilet gets clogged and there’s no plunger or toilet snake in sight, what else can you do?

Fortunately, there is another way to unclog your toilet without having to call in a professional.

Simply take a wire hanger and use it as a makeshift snake to get rid of that pesky clog. In this tutorial on how to snake a toilet with a hanger, we talked about one of the easiest ways to get rid of a stubborn clog. Sounds a bit gross, but definitely worth the try.