We’ve all had to experience an unfortunate clogged toilet situation at some point or another. After doing your business, you reach for the lever to send the waste away. However, instead of emptying like it’s supposed to, your toilet starts to slowly fill with water!
So, what are you supposed to do?
The go-to method for most is to whip out the toilet plunger. These handy tools work by creating extra pressure and pushing it against the blockage in your toilet’s trap. In theory, this should do the trick. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always solve the problem.
Luckily, there are some other techniques you can try to get rid of clogs. Chances are, you already have the ingredients you need! All it takes is some baking soda and vinegar. Here’s how to unclog a toilet with baking soda.
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Does Baking Soda Help Unclog a Toilet?
You might be surprised to learn that baking soda is capable of helping dislodge clogs. It’s an old technique that has been used for decades.
Baking soda is a very common ingredient that’s used in all-natural cleaners. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, this household essential is so effective because of its chemical properties.
Let me explain…
The white powdery substance is slightly alkali. This means that it’s a base that can easily dissolve in liquids. The pH balance of the powder provides a number of benefits. First, it naturally dissolves oils. It can degrease just about any smooth surface it comes into contact with. This includes the smooth porcelain on your toilet.
Secondly, baking soda does a great job of deodorizing smells. It brings acidic and alkali molecules into an odor-free state.
Finally, baking soda has an extreme chemical reaction to acidic compounds. This is the reason why it’s great for unclogging toilets. When you add an acid to baking soda, such as vinegar, the powder producing carbon dioxide gas! This is why baking soda and vinegar have a “volcanic” fizzling reaction.
So, how does this help with toilet clogs?
Well, that carbon dioxide gas helps to build pressure naturally. Instead of creating sudden pressure with a plunger, the mixture will slowly build pressure. Plus, if the baking soda has made contact with the clog in the trap, that fizzling action can slowly break the clog apart while loosening it from the sides of the trap.
How to Unclog Your Toilet Using Baking Soda
The trick to unclogging a toilet with baking soda is to work slowly and use the right amount of ingredients. The last thing you want to do is overload your fixture and cause a bigger mess. Remember, adding vinegar to the mix will create a fizzing reaction. Less is more when it comes to dealing with stubborn clogs.
Step 1: Determine How Bad the Clog Is
This is a very important first step. How you proceed moving forward will depend entirely on the severity of the clog. Usually, small clogs can be dealt with swiftly and efficiently. However, major clogs are more of a slow game. The goal is to use the baking soda incrementally and take things slow so that it can have the maximum impact.
Step 2: Add the Baking Soda
Measure out about a cup of baking soda and pour it into the toilet bowl. Let the powder settle at the bottom of the toilet and wait a few minutes.
Step 3: Add Boiling Water
After you’ve dumped some baking soda into the toilet, boil about a gallon of hot water in a kettle. Then, pour the boiling water into the toilet. The heat of the water should help to create extra pressure. It may unclog the toilet. At the very least, it will soften the clog a bit.
Listen for the sound of water moving. You might also hear some slight suction. This is good news! It means that the clog is moving. Give the toilet a flush to see if things go back to normal. If not, move onto step 4.
Only do this step if the water in your bowl is still relatively low. If it’s high, you run the risk of overflowing the fixture. In that case, skip this step and go directly to step 4.
Step 4: Add Vinegar
Pour 2 cups of vinegar into the toilet. You want to do this in a 2-to-1 ratio. The vinegar should cause an immediate fizzling reaction. This is creating pressure and helping to dissolve the clog.
Be careful not to overflow your toilet here. Pour the vinegar slowly and feel free to wait a bit for the fizzling to subside before adding more.
Step 5: Wait
Here’s where things get a bit tedious. We recommend waiting at least 2 hours for the vinegar and baking soda to do its thing. If it’s possible, let the mixture sit overnight.
Step 6: Try to Flush
After waiting, give the toilet a good flush. Ideally, the force of the water from the tank will give the clog that final push it needs to make it past the trap.
Step 7: Repeat as Necessary
Sometimes, it takes a couple of tries to make the clog disappear. If the clog still isn’t budging after letting the baking soda and vinegar soak, you can repeat the process a few times. The process is completely safe on your toilet, so no worries there.
The goal is to weaken the clog enough so that it can flow down the trap and waste pipe freely. A couple of repeat soaks should do the trick.
Step 8: Use a Plunger or Snake
If you’re still dealing with a clogged toilet, it’s time to whip out the plunger or toilet snake. The baking soda and vinegar can do a lot to weaken the clog or make it looser. But, sometimes it needs one big final push. The tool you use will make it happen.
Common Reasons Why Toilets Get Clogged
After going through the trouble to get your toilet in good working condition again, you must do everything you can to avoid issues in the future. While clogs may seem minor, they can cause a host of other problems you don’t want to deal with. To help you avoid potential clogs moving forward, here are some common reasons why clogs occur.
Too Much Toilet Paper
This is pretty common with kids. While toilet paper is meant to dissolve quickly, it’s not an instant process. Large wads of toilet paper can create significant blocks that get stuck in the toilet trap. Stick with reasonable amounts.
Plubing Vent Issues
Poor Toilet Design
Finally, poor design can make your toilet a magnet for clogs. Earlier low-flow toilets see this issue pretty frequently. Toilet technology has come a long way since then, making clogs a thing of the past. If you have an old water-saving toilet, you may want to consider making an upgrade.
You don’t have to contact your plumber every time you’re dealing with a clog. With just a bit of baking soda and vinegar, you can take care of clogs naturally. It’s a cost-effective alternative that won’t damage your toilet or sewer system in the long-run.