Lesly Gregory
pink toilet sitting by dumpster

There are quite a few maintenance issues that can pop up around your apartment, which you can easily take care of yourself. With the right combination of know-how and tools, you should succeed in making most simple repairs. However, what happens when you're missing an essential tool?

Here's a scenario: It's Sunday evening in your one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. A few friends come over for a casual dinner. After the meal, you're all sitting around when one guest comes out of the bathroom with an uncomfortable look on their face. “The toilet won't flush…sorry." No problem, you think as you go for the plunger. Until you remember you don't currently have one. What do you do now?

Head to the kitchen

bleach being poured into measuring cup

For an immediate fix, simple household items are all you need. Regular dish soap that you should have sitting on your sink and some hot water may do the trick. Pour about half a cup of dish soap directly into the toilet and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

This works because the soap helps lubricate the clogged pipe allowing materials to go down easier. At this point, you can try flushing and see if that works. If not, grab two cups of hot water and add it to the bowl. Make sure the water isn't boiling. Water that hot can crack the porcelain. If it's a tough clog, you should use the soap then water before attempting a flush.

For really tough clogs, your kitchen can still be your best resource. If available, try combining bleach and powdered dishwasher soap. Combine two or three cups of regular household bleach with about one cup of powdered dishwasher soap and pour into the toilet. Wait about 10 minutes before attempting to flush. This method is also good to try if you're dealing with a very full toilet.

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Go organic

baking soda and vinegar

Working in the same way the dish soap does, only with a different set of ingredients, use this mixture with hot water to unclog your toilet. Combine one cup of baking soda with two cups of vinegar. Be prepared for the mixture to fizz as it's working.

Let it sit for 30 minutes before adding the hot water, then flush. This option is especially good if you have a septic system. Bleach and certain soaps can harm septic tanks.

Grab a closet staple

wire hangers

Ending up with a particularly stubborn clog may mean abandoning your kitchen and going to your closet for the right supplies. Take a wire coat hanger, like the ones from the dry cleaners, and straighten it out.

Then, with a little muscle, push one end into the clogged area, giving it a few prods. You should feel the clog start to loosen up before you flush and watch things get sucked away.

When you need to be discreet

jar of epsom salt

Should you find yourself in a situation where you don't want anyone to know you've clogged the toilet, common bathroom items may handle the issue. Keep things discreet by using these to handle your clog:

  • Bath Bomb: if you can find one, simply drop it into the bowl and watch it dissolve over a few minutes. Like with the dish soap, it should loosen things up and allow you to flush.
  • Epsom salts: check under the sink for this bathroom staple. Sprinkle in a decent amount, watch it fizz like the bath bomb and hopefully get results.
  • Toilet Brush: while not as sturdy as a plunger, it can be used in much the same way. Push the brush into the drain hole as best you can and give it a few good pumps. Don't forget to rinse the brush thoroughly as the clog drifts down the drain.

Remember – no plunger, no worries. Your toilet will flush clear again thanks to a variety of items typically found around your apartment.

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