How to Unclog a Toilet with Dish Soap

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Have you ever gotten a clogged toilet at the worst possible time?

Like moments before a guest is coming over or after you really need to use it?

Needless to say, a clogged toilet is perhaps the worst plumbing problem that can happen to you. Not only is it gross and a huge mess, but it can also cost you a significant amount of money for repairs.

One trick that I learned when I moved into my first apartment was learning how to unclog a toilet using alternative measures.

Sure, I could have used the traditional methods like using a plunger or just calling in a professional to fix my problem, but sometimes, neither of these solutions work.

How to Unclog a Toilet with Dish Soap

First, let’s figure out why your toilet clogs up in the first place.

Here are some possible reasons why your toilet keeps clogging up and making your life difficult, which, of course, you would need to avoid next time:

  • You have a weak flush. Toilets with a weak flush are often the first to get clogged up. This is caused by the flapper in the toilet tank not opening up completely to release a good amount of water in the toilet.
  • Flushing non-flushable items. The most common reason why toilets get clogged up is that of non-flushable items being flushed down the toilet. If you flush tampons, tissues, wipes, dental floss, diapers, and anything of the like, then you are setting your toilet up for a massive clogging.
  • Debris stuck in the trap. The pipes below our toilets are often shaped like a P or an S so there is always water in the middle to keep sewer fumes from coming up the toilet. If a foreign object is stuck in the trap (like plastic, toys, toothbrushes, etc.), it can lead to a buildup of debris that will get bigger and bigger with each flush, leading to a block in the pipes and causing a clogged toilet.
  • Sewer or plumbing problems. Sometimes, it may be the plumbing vents or sewer lines that are causing clogging in your toilet. If any of these lines are blocked up, then it can manifest into your toilets and drains not functioning properly.

How to unclog a toilet with dish soap

So you’ve already tried using a plunger to get rid of the clog, but the water still hasn’t gone down. What do you do now?

Before calling in a plumber and paying an unnecessarily large sum of money to fix the problem, try using this method to unclog a toilet:

What you need:

  • Dish soap
  • Hot water
  • Large pot
  • Pot holders
  • Plunger (optional)
  1. Heat up some water. Take a big stock pot and fill it with about a gallon of water. Allow the water to heat over a medium flame. Don’t let it boil though, as boiling water can crack a porcelain toilet bowl.
  1. Pour dish soap into the toilet bowl. Pour at least half a cup of dish soap into the toilet and let it sink to the bottom. Regular dish soap would do, and it’s oftentimes a better option that strong chemical solvents that can corrode or damage the pipe lining.
  1. Let the soap rest for at least 20-30 minutes. By letting the dish soap sit in the toilet for quite some time, the trap is lubricated well enough for the clog to go down the pipe. Similar to its function on dirty dishes, dish soap helps particles and debris to be broken down in the toilet.
  1. Pour the hot water in the toilet bowl. Do this carefully but quickly enough so that the water pushes down the soap and the clog down the pipe. Stop pouring when the toilet is close to overflowing. Remember: do not use boiling water! This can cause your toilet bowl to crack.
  1. Watch the water go down perfectly. If the method has worked, then all that’s left to do is watch the water go down like a normal flush. It may take more than one time to fully unclog a toilet, so patience is a virtue if you want to save yourself money on plumbing bills.

If the clog still hasn’t gone down (or flushed completely) after you pour hot water and dish soap in the toilet, then having another go with the plunger may be necessary.

Grab your plunger and plunge a few more times (while keeping a seal over the drain hole) to unclog whatever debris is blocking the pipe.

plunger for overflowing toilet

If the clog still remains, try pouring another batch of hot water and dish soap into the toilet one to two more times. Sometimes, you may have to wait from a few hours to half a day for the water to go completely down.

Of course, this method may not be 100% effective for all types of clogs. For difficult debris like toothbrushes or a bath toy stuck in the toilet, a simple hot water and dish soap wash may not be enough to get it unstuck.

Moreover, the buildup of organic material is the hardest to remove and may need strong chemicals to break it down.

If there are no changes in water level the next day, it may be time to call in a professional.

Conclusion: Unclogging a Toilet with Dish Soap

Unclogging a toilet is one of the most dreaded chores in the house. When a toilet clogs up, the first instinct is to use a plunger to unclog it.

However, using a plunger may not be enough for stubborn clogs, especially if the cause of the clog is a buildup of debris (like tissues, wet wipes, dental floss) that don’t break down in the water as human waste does.

Before you use any strong chemicals or calling in a plumbing professional to help you out, trying to fix the problem yourself may be the most practical and economical choice.

Unclogging a toilet using dish soap and hot water is the easiest fix since you have these materials readily available in the house, unlike a plunger or drain snake.

It’s an effective way to get rid of simple clogs, and will surely save you money on plumbing bills.