Can a shop vac be used to unclog toilet by putting hose from vac in toilet (with most of water removed and filter removed from shop vac) to suction and remove a clog?

  • 8
    I think you will find that a shop vac as means to unclog a toilet will really SUCK. I.E. Not work well, but i would like to watch you try. Technically a plunger used properly employs a sucking action so if you can get a good seal, Maybe.
    – Alaska Man
    Aug 16, 2020 at 20:22
  • 10
    @AlaskaMan from a distance...
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 16, 2020 at 20:24
  • 6
    Whether the answer is yes or no, it doesn't matter. Don't do it, it's a terrible idea. Use a plunger, or a snake.
    – J...
    Aug 17, 2020 at 12:03
  • 7
    Please do not do this
    – JacobIRR
    Aug 17, 2020 at 14:13
  • 17
    Please do it while filming yourself and upload the video clip :-)) Aug 17, 2020 at 17:27

5 Answers 5


I have used a Shop-Vac to empty a clogged garbage disposal, It was messy and smelly. I seriously considered throwing it away.

It is nearly impossible to clean the corrugations in the hose. If the clog is human waste I would try a closet snake first even if you have to buy one. If its a toy or a rag or similar item you still don't know what else you will suck up.

On top of the mess in the vacuum you have to realize with out a filter you will potentially be spraying bacteria out the exhaust port hole.

  • 5
    I’d suggest a long hose with the vacuum set outside in the neighbors yard. Maybe buy a 40 dollar vac and toss it after the $#|+ hits the fan
    – Kris
    Aug 16, 2020 at 22:27
  • 11
    @Kris so glad my relationships with my neighbors seem better than yours, lol
    – Caius Jard
    Aug 17, 2020 at 12:38
  • Not only bacteria, but once you've sucked out all the water/debris you could be sucking sewer gas (which can be toxic and/or flammable) up into the house.
    – bta
    Aug 18, 2020 at 0:39
  • Spraying bacteria out the exhaust port hole is what got him into this mess in the first place.
    – crthompson
    Aug 18, 2020 at 21:54

It may work, in REVERSE

Last time I had a main drain clog, I went through chemicals (sometimes works for me), CO2 cartridges (sometimes works for me) and a small snake (usually doesn't work on the main drain). I was very close to calling a handyman (always works, but cost$) or renting a big snake (usually works, but not my favorite job). I decided to try the shop vac. Not to suck out the clog - I highly doubt that would work - but to blow out the clog. It worked perfectly. Unfortunately, I forgot to plug up the laundry tub drain, so I did get some of the clog coming out there, not entirely contained by the laundry tub. But it did work.

I have never tried this on a toilet, but if you can get a tight fit (stuff some rags around the hose) then it has a good chance of working. But definitely blower mode, not vacuum mode.

  • 6
    Most toilet clogs get more wedged in when trying to push them through. That is why a plunger pulls the clog up instead of pushing it down. "But definitely blower mode, not vacuum mode". That sounds even more entertaining to watch.
    – Alaska Man
    Aug 17, 2020 at 22:10
  • 1
    @AlaskaMan If the clog is a too-large plastic toy (as opposed to a small plastic toy + toilet paper + stuff) then blower mode won't do any good. But in general, blower mode will be much safer than sucking it up. But there could be some entertaining situations if the hose is not held down tightly... Aug 17, 2020 at 22:19
  • Vacuuming works great for a floor drain, where you might be happier if you don't blast the clog further along (since it's probably a bunch of sand and dirt and rocks). I'd be pretty apprehensive about doing that on a toilet (maybe with someone else's shop vac... someone I don't really like... "whatdya mean? It was like that when I borrowed it")
    – Z4-tier
    Aug 17, 2020 at 22:19

I would never use a shop vac on a toilet. Once I suggested trying to clear a washing machine drain with a shop vacuum simply because the poster had not been able to clear the drain after multiple tries, but this would probably be a disaster.


P traps are built into toilets and are required in plumbing drains under State building codes. ... Often toilets can get things such as combs hung in the curve of the p trap. Sucking or blowing may not remove whatever is hung in the curve, but only the remove the toilet paper that's accumulated on it. Given that, it may be a waste of time and a mess to use a shop vac (because it would only get clogged again if, say, a comb is stuck in there. I'm sure you know your options, given this. A new, larger hole toilet only costs about $120.00. That was my solution to the occasional stopped up toilet.

  • 1
    "solution to the occasional stopped up toilet". I assume you actually meant "replace it for $120 and not have occasional stopped up toilet again" but it could be read "replace it for $120 after every occasional stopped up toilet" which reminds me of this SNL disposable toilet skit Aug 17, 2020 at 17:28
  • 1
    There are plenty of times when it's not even clogged in the toilet, but further down the drain (like roots or another obstruction), which would make replacing the toilet completely unproductive. The only thing replacing the toilet would fix is the recurring clog in the toilet itself, and it'd still be less expensive to get a cheap snake to fix the problem, unless money isn't an issue or less of an issue that "constantly" having to unclog the toilet. Aug 17, 2020 at 23:08

The shopvac might work, it really depends what is causing the clog, 1 large things, or a bunch of small things. I think a shopvac would work great on something like sand or jello or ball bearings in a toilet, but not a hair brush.

I did once use a shop vac to suck out some screws that were dropped in a drain, and it worked great. But I got the shopvac out right away before any water was run though the system.

A reliable way to fix a toilet when a plunger fails is to lift the toilet off the floor and reach up to remove the clog. I know it's messy but it tends to work without fancy equipment.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.