How to Clean a Toilet Auger

Unclogging a toilet can be a tricky thing and not something that most people are very fond of. A clogged toilet can be dirty, smelly, and visually unappealing. If you do happen to require some unclogging, the fastest way is usually with a toilet plunger. This is the first thing most people reach for when they need to unclog a toilet.

However, this common household item isn’t always as effective as it needs to be, and that is where a toilet auger comes in. But what happens after you use your toilet auger?

Read on to learn how to properly use and clean your toilet auger.

What is a Toilet Auger?

This is one of the most common tools for unclogging a toilet and is also sometimes known as a water closet auger or plumbing snake. This tool moves through the toilet drain to unclog the toilet by breaking through the clog or obstruction, causing the toilet to back up into the bowl when flushed.

What is the Difference Between a Toilet Auger and a Snake?

The design of the toilet auger is deliberate and is designed to remove more stubborn toilet clog versus a regular toilet snake. Augers can come with a closed coil head used to punch through or push through the blockage. This pushes the toilet blockage through the drain along with the auger until it passes through successfully.

The other common type is one with an open coil head. The open coil head allows the toilet or drain auger to hook any blockage and pull it back the way it came. This is more effective if the toilet blockage is a compound one or particularly large.

Sometimes pushing the blockage further down the drain only causes it to lodge more deeply and become a more stubborn clog. Pulling it out instead brings it out even if it comes out in pieces and you need to pull a few times.

Toilet augers are almost always made of metal, and while they can cause some damage to a porcelain toilet, as long as you are careful, you shouldn’t have any problems.

A toilet snake, on the other hand, is a slender and more flexible auger that you can use to dislodge clogs. It is also sometimes referred to as a toilet jack.

Why a Toilet Auger?

With so many options to unclog a toilet, you might be wondering why and when you should use a toilet auger. The answer is that a toilet auger is best used for particularly stubborn clogs that won’t seem to budge when a toilet plunger is used.

As mentioned, a plunger is usually the first tool someone will grab when trying to unclog a toilet, but if it proves to be ineffective, you shouldn’t waste any more time; it’s time to grab a toilet auger and get the job done.

Strategy for Using a Toilet Auger

Using a toilet auger is quite simple, and the tool itself is rudimentary but effective. You must start by pushing the cable through the toilet drain while turning it in a clockwise motion. The turning will allow it to bend more easily as it curves through the drain.

Once it can’t run anymore and won’t push any further, you will know that you hit the clog. Then it is time to push the cable forward into the clogged drain. If it is successful, you will feel the auger grab onto something, which you can then pull out, or it will break up the clog and push it through the drain to unclog the toilet.

Do not ever use force when using a toilet auger, as this can cause more problems than solutions. If your clog is bigger than usual, you might need to remove the toilet auger and the coil, clean it, and reinsert it a few times before the clog is fully removed, particularly if you are pulling it out using an open coil design auger.

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How Do You Clean an Auger?

After using your toilet auger to unclog your toilet, it is time to clean it so that you clear the bacteria and any debris that may remain on it.


If you are going to transport your toilet auger anywhere other than where you used it, you should wrap it in a plastic bag. Keep the waste and any dripping water that may be dirty from going everywhere and making other places dirty.


Rinse the toilet auger using a hose, sink, or something pushing clean water. Some toilet augers will pick up the calcifications or debris from the toilet clog and keep them in the coil. Rinsing this off, particularly on the coil, will keep your toilet auger in good condition and avoid rusting so you can keep using it for years.


Use some sanitizer to keep things fresh, and if the toilet auger smells bad, you can use something with a fragrance. Before storing it, you want to make sure it will not smell up the space you store it in.


When the toilet auger is dry, it is a good idea to spray it with some WD-40. This will prevent it from rusting and protect the metal over time when used repeatedly. Rust is one of the most common issues with toilet augers and can cause worse damage down the road.


Store it in a dry place. Keep your toilet auger away from water when not in use. Again, rust is a serious issue that could lead to the toilet auger not functioning properly in the future or scratching and scraping your toilet when using it again to unclog your toilet.

A Handy Tool

A toilet auger is an important thing to have. Most households only have a plunger but could really use a toilet auger to avoid needing to call a plumber. Also, keep your toilet auger clean, and the cost savings over time will pay for the tool many times over as you use it for years on end.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are answers to a couple of the more commonly asked questions regarding toilet augers.

How long will my toilet auger last?

As long as you take good care of it, use it properly, and clean and store it safely, it will last for years. A toilet auger is designed to last, and as long as it does not succumb to rust or other build-up issues, it will continue to function perfectly.

Will cleaning my toilet auger be easy?

Yes, and no. Depending on the clog you were dealing with, there may be more or less cleaning to do.

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