Ok, I have used the toilet after holding myself for too long because of a long haul flight and I am not comfortable using the airplane's lavatory. The problem is, after releasing all the damn load, I have discovered that the bloody toilet is blocked, flushing makes things float! The hotel is a 5 stars hotel.

What to do now? I know I can call the house keeping/reception and let them handle this sh1# (literally), but I find this so humiliating to me and to whomever unlucky person who is assigned to handle this. Any advice?

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    Incidentally, how do we not have a toilets tag yet? Oct 2, 2013 at 14:30
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    From a rational point of view, it is far more unsanitary to touch an elevator button or door handle than to use a toilet anywhere, aircraft or otherwise. If you think your 5-star hotel is somehow magically cleaner than the rest of the world, check out this: nbcnews.com/health/…
    – JoelFan
    Oct 2, 2013 at 16:36
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    I find it amusing that you find it more comfortable to tell the whole internet about it, than to tell the people whose job it is to take care of it. ;) Oct 2, 2013 at 17:20
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    Phone the front desk, tell them that your toilet is not working. Then go out somewhere. Eat in the restaurant, sit in the bar, go for a walk. Come back and it will be fixed. Oct 2, 2013 at 20:03
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    Don't be ashamed to call the front desk. Feel free to leave the room for a while after you call so you don't have to face the maintenance guy when he comes in. Hotel maintenance staff face clogged toilets all the time and after a few hundred clogged toilets, it's no big deal. They'll be glad that you clogged it "naturally" rather than because you were trying to flush unflushable materials that they have to pull out of the toilet and dispose of.
    – Johnny
    Oct 2, 2013 at 20:24

9 Answers 9


If the flush mechanism doesn't work

  1. Flush manually:

    In fact in many developing countries or even elsewhere such as out in the bush you can find modern toilets without running water.

    All you need to do is find a large container, fill at as full as you can manage, and pour it into the bowl. The faster you poor and from the greater height the better. But start slow and low because if you are too aggressive you can cause icky splashing.

  2. The mechanism is often easy to fix:

    Take the lid off the cistern. Be careful if it's ceramic it will be heavy. You can break it or your toe if you drop it.

    There is usually a string, wire, or chain connecting some kind of lever, float, and rubber seal. Often this gets caught on something causing the plug not to reach the seal or not to close it fully.

    Sometimes the string, wire, or chain has come loose from one end and can be reattached without any special tools.

    Sometimes it can help to bend the arm the float is attached to for fine adjustments if the plug almost reaches the seal but not quite.

If the bowl is blocked

  1. See if there is a plunger near the toilet or in a cupboard. If your 5-star hotel has a kitchenette and there's a plunger there but not in the toilet, then maybe throw it away after cleaning up, or at least leave it in the toilet room.

  2. If there is no plunger to be found then the "manual flush" method above may be stronger than the built-in flush if you can drop in a lot of water at once from a great enough height without making a mess. This is much safer in "low water" toilets than with the "high water" toilets typically found in North America.

  3. Let it soak and come back from time to time when the water level has gone down and flush again. Again be careful with "high water" toilets as in North America - they are notorious for overflowing in such conditions. If you are a man, aim your stream at the obstacle each time you go. This will break it up. These techniques are hampered if you used too much toilet paper.

  4. If you are in a country where you don't know the language, get online and look up the local words for "hardware store" and "plunger". In my experience the latter can be quite tricky. I was in this situation once in Berlin, found at least half a dozen words for "plunger", most of which must've been regional words only known to people in other parts of the German-speaking world! I also couldn't find a hardware store and couldn't find a plunger in a discount store. (Lidl style or 1-euro-shop style)

  5. DO NOT USE DRANO!! Caustic pipe un-blocking products are not intended for use with toilets. They can melt the wax used to seal the ceramic toilet to the pipes. You can create a far worse situation this way. (Non-caustic products should be fine though.)

If all else fails

  1. You can use this situation to work on your problems of finding natural bodily functions embarrassing. Go tell somebody working at the hotel. If it's a 5-star hotel they specialize in being discreet about far far worse things their guests might do.

  2. If you cannot bring yourself to overcome this personality defect then you can leave an apology note somewhere the housekeepers will find it before finding the surprise you left them. You can even include a tip.

  3. The housekeepers have definitely dealt with this situation and much worse before. If you just leave it they are pretty used to that.

  • 1
    Then you need to reword your question. I have come up against both situations many times. Jammed flush is much easier, unless there is a plunger. To keep both answers relevant you can reword in such a way as to not specify any theory as to why the poo won't go away, or to cover both situations. Oct 2, 2013 at 13:42
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    you da man, you have a solution for every possible problem re toilets :p Oct 2, 2013 at 13:48
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    "I'd need some help disposing of a dead hooker, and also the toilet is clogged." Oct 2, 2013 at 15:14
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    "DO NOT USE DRANO!! This can dissolve the cement used to fix the ceramic toilet to the tiled floor!" - Toilets are usually screwed, not cemented. What you probably heard was that Drano can get hot enough to melt the wax sealing the toilet to the pipes. You pretty much shouldn't ever use Drano for anything, regardless. Drain-o (different from Drano) works well though, it's basically just soap and baking soda. Oct 2, 2013 at 19:52
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    In re: the hotel staff has seen much worse, believe me. Put it this way - at least you used the toilet for your bodily functions, and not a closet or a mini-bar fridge.
    – IconDaemon
    Oct 2, 2013 at 22:29

Unless you feel like finding a local hardware store and buying a plunger, I don't think there's really much that you can do other than calling the front desk.

(If you'd like to reduce your embarrassment, you can call the front desk and simply ask them to send along maintenance because "there seems to be a problem with the plumbing" or some other similar euphemism. You're not the first, and you won't be the last.)

  • This breaks down when you're travelling in various ways: Is it hardware shops that sell plungers in all countries? Do you know what hardware shops are called or how to find them in this country? When you find one do you know what to call a plunger in the local language or how to describe one in a way that will not humiliate the kind of person who wouldn't mention the problem to the hotel? Oct 2, 2013 at 13:44
  • @hippietrail There might be a kind of person who would be afraid to mention it to the hotel but not the hardware store clerk - with the hotel people, there's the added issue that A) you've made a mess on their property and B) you will have to talk to them again.
    – Random832
    Oct 2, 2013 at 15:04
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    Stay at hotels with shared bathrooms so it's harder to know who was responsible (-; Oct 2, 2013 at 15:11

Jeremy Miles comment on your answer is best. Phone the front desk, tell them it's blocked. Go out for a few hours. Come back, no problem.

Also, know that it's probably not your fault, the toilet was probably already partially blocked from the previous occupant.

However, if you're desperate to fix this yourself there's one thing you can try which is to pour a kettle full of boiling (edit, see the comments below -- this might not be completely safe, try warm water instead) water into the toilet (hopefully there's enough spare room to do this). This is something like the manual flush method with the benefit that the boiling water will help break up the organics. That should be safe on most toilets and I've had it work for me before at home (sometimes it took two kettles).

On the other hand, if you cause damage or more mess then you're going to definitely need to let the hotel know and you'll be even more embarrassed. Trust me, hotel staff see much more embarrassing things than that all the time. Much more.

Many people I know would just strip down, cover their arms with a couple of plastic bags (you probably have laundry bags in the wardrobe) and stick their hand in there to fix it. Then jump in the shower. I wouldn't try, and it doesn't sound like you would either, but it does generally work.


To build on hippietrail's answer for a manual flush. Most rooms will have a trash can, a 5-star room certainly will. Most of those will be lined with a plastic trash bag. This becomes the bucket you need to manually flush the toilet. Fill it to a good level, you only need around a gallon to flush properly. Then follow his instructions for pouring (slowly to get aim & range, then raise bucket to increase the pressure against the plug.

An ice bucket may work in a pinch, but a trash can is a much better solution.

However, were it me, I'd just call the front desk & have them deal with it. As so many have said, you're not the first to plug a toilet, and certainly not the last.

  1. Take a towel
  2. make it be wet, really wet
  3. put it over the toliet bowl and under the lid
  4. put your knee over the lid, making some force over it
  5. flush it

If there is no tank or cistern, even better, because all the water from the pipes will make pressure and perhaps will push everything away.

If there is a tank, it´ll make less pressure, but can work anyway.

If your toilet is the high water kind, be careful, or the towel might get dirty.

edit if you have some big plastic, putting it under the towel is even more effective.

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    The front desk, maintenance,and housecleaning staff would prefer that you call them rather than causing another couple gallons of dirty water to leak onto the floor when your improvised pressure flush doesn't work. Don't let embarrassment of a normal bodily function turn into more work for the hotel staff.
    – Johnny
    Oct 2, 2013 at 20:45
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    @Johnny I'd totally agree with you, and that's what I would do, except that the question was "what do I do if I don't want to call the front desk?". Your comment could be made to the question, since all the answers provided by me and others are less preferable than calling the front desk... Oct 3, 2013 at 12:20

There’s one good solution: Tell the reception or house keeping, and they get a professional to fix it with a minimum of fuss, giving you a new room if needed.

Anything else carries the risk of turning a slightly embarrassing situation into a major disaster. The workman confronted with a job made three times harder and messier by an amateur interfering will curse you.


You can also try to use the toilet brush as a plunger. I fixed my blocked bowl at home like this. Depending on the type of toilet it could get messy :)

  • Also depending on the type of poo d-: Aug 19, 2016 at 16:23

Get a stick*. Make sure it does not break easily.

Use the stick

  • to break up the excrement into smaller pieces

  • to pull stuff up to the front or to the side of the bowl and to hold it there while flushing

Flush in several smaller portions.

If you can't reach the blocking with the stick, use the toilet brush as a plunger.

Source: One of my own children tends to produce rather large excrement.

*In the countryside, it's easy to find dead wood. In the city, you might try the compost heap of a nearby cemetery, or just buy a bamboo stick or a wooden spoon. I often use some dead wood from my own garden, with a legth of about 50 cm and a diameter of 1-2 cm.


Another simple method to avoid or resolve a blocked Flush Toilet:

  • take a soft, flexible plastic bottle (I use a orange juice bottle)
    • where the bottom is about the width of the pipe
      • the closest fit avoids anything coming up to 'greet you'

Cut off the bottom, retaining the cap.

Insert the cut off bottom of the bottle into the pipe entry.
Push the bottle in and out 4 or 5 times.

When pushing in, the bottle will fill and out it will empty

  • exerting pressure on the remains.

This created pressure will force the remains through the pipe.

Flush and continue pushing the bottle in and out until the bottle is clean.

The whole process is over within minutes.

An existing plunger did not work for me (not enough pressure).
The orange juice bottle now hangs on the plunger stick, ready to use when needed

  • and is now used as a part of the general bathroom cleaning process

Finding such a bottle is much easier than a plunger and the process is faster than waiting for a plumber (who mostly uses a machine to create the needed pressure to send the remains on its way).

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