How to Use a Toilet Auger

So, how to use a toilet auger to unclog your toilet? 

If you’ve tried a plunger and you’re not getting any results you may need to pull out the big guns.  That means using a toilet auger.  

Let’s find out how to unclog your toilet!

how does a toilet auger work
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What is a Toiler Auger? How to Use a Toilet Auger?

What is a toilet auger?  Also called a closet auger, it’s a tool used to specifically unclog toilets. Augers are the best thing to unclog a toilet. 

Toilet augers are built as a long vinyl tube with a handle on one end and a long metal cord or cable inside, usually 3 to 6 feet long.  They are built using heavy duty steel construction.  The cable or cord is wider than a drain auger so that it can spin inside and cover the whole diameter of your drain.   

They come with a special “head” at the tip, which is shaped like a pear or a bulb.  This head will grab any weird things like toys and pull them right out of the drain. 

They are also built with a vinyl covering that protects the porcelain in your toilet bowl from becoming scratched up when spinning the auger. We’ve tested and tested and narrowed down the best toilet augers for you to choose from. 

What Does a Toilet Auger Do? How Does a Toilet Auger Work?

A toilet auger has a long, thick metal cable that you insert and work through the pipes in your toilet. It has a specially designed bulb head on the end. You use a handle and you spin the toilet auger clockwise. This spins the cable inside your pipes as the cable works its way down the pipes.

The bulb head grabs any debris along the insides of your pipes, including the clog, and traps it in the head. You then reverse the cable spin and retract the auger cable, which brings the debris up for you to dispose of it.

Is a Toilet Auger the same as a Snake?

Auger and a snake are two different tools to unclog drains and toilets.  Auger are tough, long and built to get out even the worst toilet clogs.  How Does a Plumbing snake work? Snakes are thin and short, built for removing shallow uncomplicated clogs mostly from drains like hair.

Is a toilet auger better than a snake? Let’s put it this way: If you’ve got a toilet to unclog, don’t waste your time with a snake.  It won’t go deep enough to get the clogs out of the bends in your pipes.

For ToiletsFor Sink, Shower, Bathtub Drains
More expensiveCheaper
Breaks through clogsPulls clogs out
More powerfulLess powerful

How to Use a Toilet Auger to Unclog a Toilet

Using a toilet auger to unclog a toilet is easier than you think! Follow along with our instructions below to learn how you unclog a toilet with an auger.

  1. Get some dirty clothes on, gloves and even safety glasses 

    You don’t want dirty toilet water splashing up onto your skin and face!

  2. Place the auger right up against the pipe in the bowl  

    This ensures that you don’t scratch the porcelain

  3. Push the auger into the bowl 

    Push it as far as it will go. When you hit something solid, that’s your clog or the bend in the pipes

  4. Feed about 6 more inches of the auger into the pipe while spinning the cable

    This gets the auger bulb head hooked onto the clog or passed the bend in the pipes

  5. Pull your auger back out of the toilet

    Wipe the auger off as you pull it out

  6. Test your toilet to make sure it is flowing 

    A few flushes should tell you if you’ve cleared your clog

  7. Repeat if required  
If you hit the U bends in the pipes, slowly crank your auger while applying pressure to push it through. You should get through after a few cranks of the cable.

How Does a Toilet Auger Work?  Unclogging a Toilet with an Auger  

Clogged Toilet Diagram 

The most common places a toilet gets clogged is in the passageway or the U bend and just after where the toilet joins the floor.  


Troubleshooting Guide

Toilet Auger Not Working

If you’re using your tool as instructed and the toilet auger isn’t working to remove the clog, you’re next step would be to drain the toilet bowl and tank and remove the toilet.   

You can auger the toilet backwards as a first step.  Second step would be to auger the drain going into the floor.   The longer your auger the better.  Consider purchasing a 6 foot auger instead of a 3 foot model. 

Sometimes, your auger isn’t working because the cord is stuck in the bowl.  It can get hung up on the trap or in the U bends on the back of the toilet.   

For this, you would slowly crank the cable while pushing the auger into the toilet.  It should work itself through the trap and U bends after a few cranks. 

What happens if none of the above works and your toilet is still clogged? You may have a clog much further down the line than a traditional DIY auger can reach. You will have to call the Pros out if that’s the case.

Is Your Toilet Auger Stuck? 

There may be a time when your working on a clog and your auger is stuck in the toilet!  This doesn’t happen often, but we thought we’d mention it anyways. How to Get a toilet auger unstuck is pretty simple, let me explain how.

If your auger gets stuck, it’s probably just hung up on a bend in the pipe or the internal trap.  Crank your auger around while pushing it into the pipe, then try to pull it back out.  

If that doesn’t work, do the opposite and crank the auger while pulling it out.  One of these methods will usually dislodge your auger from being stuck in your toilet.   

Rarely, you will need to remove your toilet and get the auger unstuck from the toilet yourself. 

Before storing your auger, apply General Wire Snake Oil to your cable after you’ve cleaned it. This stops rust and keeps your cable from getting stiff and kinking while it’s in storage.

Toilet Auger Won’t Go In

Our technique for getting an auger to go into your toilet pipe is easy to follow.  First, place the auger right up against the pipe in the bowl.  Then, push the auger as far as it will go.   

If it stops, you’ve either hit your clog or the bends in the toilet.  Start slowly spinning the auger while applying downwards pressure.   This does two things.  It either grabs your clog or it forces the auger through the bends in the pipes.   

After a minute, wind your auger back up and see if you’ve grabbed the clog.  If not, put the auger back down the pipes and keep slowly spinning until it gets passed the bends in the pipes.   

Once you hit your clog, the auger will stop.  Spin the auger to really grab onto that clog or object and then pull it back up. 

If all this fails, you may have to remove your toilet.  Thankfully, most clogs are in the U bends in the toilet pipes and you won’t have to go that route. 

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Can You Use a Toilet Auger on a Sink

No!  Toilet augers for sinks is a bad idea.   And vice versa, you don’t want to use a drain auger or snake on your toilets.

Drain pipes in sinks and bathtubs are approximately 1.5- 2 inches in diameter and toilet pipes are 3-4 inches.  A toilet auger can’t be used on a sink because the cable or cord is much larger than one used for drains.   

A thick toilet auger cable doesn’t have enough “free play” to remove clogs from a sink drain. They are also much shorter, being anywhere from 3-6 feet.   

Drain augers are 25-50 feet long with thin cables to really reach that grease and hair that you might find in a kitchen or bathtub drain. 

How Much Does a Toilet Auger Cost?

You don’t have to spend much to grab a 6 or 3 foot auger.  A good quality 6 foot auger costs about $64 while a 3 foot auger cost around $30.  The amount of money you will save on calling a plumber is huge if you buy your own auger.  At least $250 for each plumber call out. If you have a family with kids you definitely need an auger.  

How to Prevent Future Toilet Clogs

Here are some tips to prevent future toilet clogs:

  • Don’t flush too much TP down the toilet at once
  • Flush multiple times during a big poop
  • Watch that the kids don’t flush anything
  • Don’t flush any wipes down the toilet (alot of our calls are for this)
  • Clean out your pipes twice per year with a toilet auger
  • Don’t flush cat litter: it turns into cement in your pipes
  • Grease should be poured into a container and thrown out, not down your toilet

How to Video

Here is a video for those folks that learn visually of how to unclog your toilet with an auger.

Is it safe to Use an Auger on a Toilet? Can it damage my Toilet?

These types of augers are designed to be used to unclog toilets so they really cannot damage a toilet. They way you could damage your toilet is if you used a drain auger instead of one made for toilets. Drain augers don’t have any protective material on their cables and they will scratch the porcelain inside your toilet, permanently.

Is a Toilet Auger Better than a Plunger?

Plungers are made for very shallow clogs of organic material like hair or TP and poop.

If you have any foreign debris in the toilet pipes, like if your kids flush something down there, an auger will be necessary to restore flow. That’s because an auger has a bulb head on the end of the cable to grab debris from inside the pipes and pull it out as you retract the cable.

Auger cables are also either 3 or 6 feet long, so they can DEEP into the toilet pipes to find whatever is causing the clog and remove it. Plungers just use the power of suction to remove clogs, which isn’t as effective.

Using Drain Augers on Toilets

We do not recommend this, but we know some folks will do it anyways. Check out our detailed post on using a drain auger on a toilet.

When to Replace your Toilet Auger

Augers last forever, it’s a good investment considering its low price. If the rubber sleeve is cracking or broken you need to replace it. Also, another reason to get a new auger is if the cable is super rusted.


How does a toilet auger work to unclog a toilet isn’t rocket science.  All you need is some elbow grease and a strong stomach to work out those nasty toilet clogs! 


When to Use a Toilet Auger

Any clogs it your toilet is the perfect time to use an auger. You can try a plunger at first, and hope its a shallow easy clog. If not, use your auger to clean out the clog and the inside of your pipes at the same time.