How to fix a clogged toilet using a trash bag

Woman showing hands stop with sanitary napkin flushed down toilet.

I live in a 71-year-old house. The plumbing is all original. I know, all too well, the rising panic that claws into one’s chest as a flushed toilet suddenly starts to fill, and fill … and fill, with no sign of stopping.

I’ve gotten really good at dislodging a clog through various means, but this one is new to me: Did you know you can unclog a toilet using plastic wrap or, failing that, a trash bag?

It may seem a little strange, but it relies on the same principle that makes plungers so effective.


Lifehacker recently shared the, uh, technique. It’s simple but a bit tricky, especially if you’re dealing with a truly unpleasant backup. Still, when you’re down a plunger, you’ve just gotta go with plan B — or plan C.

We’re going to say that Plan B is to use plastic wrap, which almost everyone has in their kitchen. Using as many sheets as you need, cover the bowl tightly with the wrap to create a good seal.

Meanwhile, Plan C is to use a garbage bag if you’re out of plastic wrap. You’ll also want to create a seal with the bag, so bust out some tape to keep things wrapped up tight. Use as much as you need because the seal is what will make this possible.

Time to get to work: Flush the blocked toilet, then push down on the middle of your plastic wrap/trash bag seal, over the bowl, forcing air down into the toilet. Don’t get too crazy here — you certainly wouldn’t your hand to go straight into the pot. Hopefully that’s enough to solve the trouble. If it’s still not flushing correctly, give it a few more tries, making sure your seal is strong.

If you’re a visual learner, here’s a little TikTok to use as a reference:


I’m amazed. #clean #toiletbowl #toiletblock #tanyahomeinspo #cleaninghacks #toilethacks #hacksforyou #cleantok101 #cleanwithme #toiletflush

♬ This Is What You Came For – Calvin Harris & Rihanna

And if you’ve got to use a garbage bag — or even just a large plastic grocery bag you have laying around — this lady has a good tip:


How to unclog a bathroom 🚽 #fyp #fypシ #lifehacks #foryoupage #foryou

♬ original sound – MariaManji

No word yet on what a professional plumber would think of all this, so proceed with caution. And maybe just save this for the worst-case, no-plunger scenario!

DIY & Improvement, Home
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About the Author
Kathleen St. John
Kathleen St. John is a freelance journalist. She lives in Denver with her husband, two kids and a fiercely protective Chihuahua.

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