How to Use a Toilet Auger to Remove Even the Trickiest Clog

D.P. Taylor
Written by D.P. Taylor
Updated July 9, 2021
home bathroom with toilet, tile floors and objects placed around bathtub shower combo
Adene Sanchez/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Sometimes your plunger needs a plan B

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A clogged toilet can be a real headache, especially if you’ve tried plunging and other hacks (including mixing vinegar and baking soda) with no results. 

The pipe system in a toilet is long and bendy, so if you've got a deep clog that won't come out with regular plunging alone, a toilet auger is your best bet to navigate those curves well beyond your line of sight.

How to Use a Toilet Auger: A Step-by-Step Guide

A toilet auger, also known as a plumber's snake or drain snake, is a long, flexible tool that dislodges clogs that cannot be loosened via a regular household plunger.

Getting an auger is easy—a good one costs less than $100, and some can be found for under $10. But how do you use one of them properly? It seems like a simple tool, but there are techniques you should use to maximize your chance of getting at a deep clog. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to unclog that stubborn toilet without hiring a plumber.

1. Prep

Turn off the water supply valve behind your toilet so you don't have a messy overflow on your hands. Then get your auger ready and put on a pair of gloves. This could get messy!

2. Insert

Insert the spring end of the auger into the toilet and down the pipe. 

3. Spin

Move the coiled extension deeper into the toilet by spinning the handle. Keep doing this until you reach the clog.

4. Dislodge

Once you've made contact with the clog, either force the object deeper into the larger piping system beyond the toilet's internal pipes, or pull the object out of the toilet.

5. Flush

Flush the toilet to ensure everything is clear, and repeat the process as necessary.

Extra Tips for Using a Toilet Auger

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when you use an auger on a particularly bad clog.

Use Liquid Soap

Liquid soap, particularly dishwashing soap, can help loosen clogs, so pour some into the toilet along with some warm water.

Add Water if Necessary

If there's no water in the toilet, add a few inches. This will help you clear the obstruction. But be careful not to add too much, as this puts you at risk of an overflow.

Be Careful With the Auger's Tip

The tip of an auger can leave unsightly scratches in your toilet's porcelain finish. Carefully guide the tip into the pipe and avoid making contact with the bowl.

Toilet Still Not Working? Hire a Plumber

We all want to solve our toilet-related problems on our own, but sometimes it’s best to let the pros handle things. If you’ve been hammering away at that clog and it’s just not coming loose, maybe you need someone with experience and more heavy-duty tools capable of getting the job done. And it’s possible that the problem isn’t a clog at all! Whatever the case, a plumber can figure it out.

Look for a plumber near you, compare rates and reviews, and settle on one to come out and look at your toilet. Once you do, you’ll have a working toilet in no time.

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