2 Easy Ways to Flush a Toilet Without a Handle

The best way to flush a toilet with a missing or broken handle is to lift the flapper at the bottom of the toilet tank. This will release the water down into the bowl and flush the toilet. The flapper can be lifted by removing the toilet tank cover and tugging on the chain connected to the top of the flapper. As another option, you can force a toilet to flush by pouring a large amount of water directly into the toilet bowl.

A toilet missing the handle that needs to be flushed.

Technique # 1: Lift the Flapper

This method is the easiest way to flush a toilet when the handle isn’t working. It will also let you see inside your toilet tank, which is the first step to finding out why your toilet won’t flush normally.

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1. Remove the Toilet Tank Lid

I removed my toilet lid to find the flapper in order to flush my toilet without the handle.
My toilet lid after removing it from my toilet.

To flush your toilet without a handle, begin by removing the lid from your toilet tank. Before moving on, set your toilet tank lid aside. Place it on a towel or bathmat to avoid breaking the porcelain lid.

Removing this lid will allow you to access the components inside the toilet tank. So, let’s take a closer look at what’s been revealed.

2. Locate the Flapper

Arrow pointing to the flapper inside the toilet tank.
The flapper inside your toilet should look like this.

With the lid removed, you will now be able to see the inner workings of your toilet. You should see a toilet tank that is mostly full of water, with a few other plastic or metal components. To flush a stubborn toilet, it’s essential to locate the rubber or plastic flapper at the bottom of the toilet tank.

Most toilets have a red flapper, so they’re usually easy to spot. However, some flappers are blue or black. No matter what color your flapper is, it will be the flat, circular object at the bottom of your toilet. Look for hinges on one side, which allow the flapper to open and close.

3. Lift the Flapper

A man's hand lifting a toilet flapper in order to flush the toilet without a handle.
Lifting the flapper in my toilet tank to flush my toilet.

Reach down into the toilet tank to reach the flapper. Then, grab the flapper or the chain attached to it and gently lift. Once the flapper flips up, the water in the tank will flow down into the toilet bowl. This will flush your toilet instantly.

You will get your hand wet doing this, but don’t worry. The water in your toilet tank is the same water that comes from your tap. It contains zero waste. You will not be reaching into “dirty” water to flush your toilet this way.

4. Release the Flapper

Man's hand lowering the flapper of a toilet after flushing the toilet.
Lowering the flapper after flushing my toilet.

Once your toilet has flushed, let go of the flapper. It will automatically flip back down into place. With the flapper closed, your toilet tank will automatically begin to refill with water. If your toilet is filling properly, it will be ready for another flush in one to three minutes.

Although this method works to flush a toilet without a proper handle, it can be annoying to follow this process each time you need to flush. So, consider having your toilet handle repaired or replaced.

Technique #2: Pour Water Into the Toilet Bowl

Your toilet’s tank must be full of water in order to flush it by lifting the flapper. If the toilet tank is empty or the toilet does not have running water, you can still flush it without a handle. Just use this easy trick.

1. Fill a Bucket with Water

Filling a bucket of water which will be used to flush a toilet that is missing the handle.
Filling a bucket with water to use Method #2 to flush my toilet missing the handle.

Begin by filling a large bucket, bowl, or pitcher with water. It takes over 1.5 gallons of water to flush a toilet (6 liters), so you will need a large container.

For this technique, the more water you have, the easier it is to flush the toilet. Although I’ve had good results with large pitchers, it’s best to use a 5-gallon bucket. Fill the bucket halfway to prepare for this manual flush.

2. Pour Water into the Toilet Bowl

Filling a bucket of water which will be used to flush a toilet that is missing the handle.
Pouring water into my toilet to help it flush.

Quickly pour the water from your bucket into the toilet bowl. The force and weight of the water will force the toilet to flush. This will carry the waste down into the sewer pipes.

If your toilet handle isn’t working, you can reliably flush your toilet with this pouring method. However, it uses more water than a normal flush. When possible, flush by lifting the flapper in order to conserve water.

How Do You Flush a Toilet When the Chain Breaks?

A broken or detached chain in the toilet tank is a common problem. It renders your toilet handle useless. However, you can still flush a toilet with a broken chain. All you need to do is remove the toilet tank lid, reach down to the bottom of the water tank, and lift the flapper.

  • Remove the toilet tank lid.
  • Reach down into the tank water and flip the flapper up to flush the toilet.
  • If possible, re-attach or repair the chain.

Chains can slip off their lever, break, or tear free from the flapper. If any of these are the case, either re-attach the chain or replace the broken component. Once you have a chain running from the interior lever down to the top of the flapper, your flush handle will function normally again. Just be sure to turn off the water to the toilet and flush it before making any repairs. It’s a lot easier to work on a toilet with a dry, empty tank.

How Do You Flush a Toilet Without a Handle?

How to flush a toilet without the handle

Flushing a toilet without a handle is a simple task. The best way to flush a toilet manually is:

  • Remove the lid from the toilet tank.
  • Locate the flapper.
  • Lift the flapper to flush the toilet.

This method of manually flushing a toilet will work in all instances where you have running water and a working flapper. If your toilet doesn’t have water running to it, or if the water level in the tank is low due to a leaking flapper, you can flush your toilet manually by simply pouring a bucket of water into the toilet bowl.

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