Toilet Auger vs Snake-Which is Appropriate?

Toilet augers and toilet snakes are some of the common tools used for clearing clogged toilet drains. Though they serve the same purpose, they are different in the way work and how they look.

Toilet auger maneuvers through the toilet drain to remove stubborn clog especially in households with children while drain snake is mainly used to clear clogs in sinks, shower drains and at times light toilet clogs. While almost all augers are operated manually, snakes come in both in electric and manual versions.

Following is a detailed discussion on how these two draining tools are different as well as similar.


In as much as these tools are used almost in the same way, they usually work differently. There are situations when you need to use a toilet auger, and there are other situations when the snake will be the ideal tool for you.

Toilet auger is also known as a water closet auger or a plumbing snake while a drain Snake is also known as top snake or drum snake.

 Following is an overview of the differences.

FeatureToilet AugerDrain Snake
Mechanism of workingBreaks debris pushing it down drainPulls out debris
OperationMostly ManualBoth manual and electric
Best forToilet DrainsSinks, showers, Bathtubs and toilet(multi-purpose)
Type of clogHuge accumulated and hard to removeLight and easy to remove
Comparison table

Construction and Design

A basic manual drain snake consists of a metal cable between 25 feet to 50 feet long, a tip that is shaped like a corkscrew for catching debris, and a crank. Electric versions come with internal motors or are attached to an external motor in place of a manual crank.

Manual Drain Snake
Standard drain snake
Electric drain snake
Electric drain snake

A standard toilet auger is made up of a long shaft, the snake, a bowl guard, and a manual crank.

Toilet auger working
Toilet auger


One of the main distinguishing features between these two plumbing tools is their uses. Toilet augers are designed explicitly for toilets while snakes are suitable for drains in your sinks, bathtubs, showers, washing machines, and so on.

The toilet snake removes the debris rather than just break it apart and force it down the drainage system of your home. In case your shower drains are blocked, the toilet snake will pull out any hair that could be responsible for the clogging. However, the toilet auger will break through the material so that it can travel through the drain.


Size is another noticeable difference between these two plumbing tools. If you have a professional toilet auger, you can trust that it will be easy to use it. This is because they are relatively larger. As a result, you will be able to stand when using it. The cords of this tools are thick and robust. That way, they can readily grind away clogs in your big toilet drains.

Since augers come with vinyl porcelain bowl protectors, you can be sure that they will not scratch your bowl when you are working on clogs. Also, they come with a nice plastic housing that helps reduces the chances of getting splashed with dirty toilet bowl water.

Snakes are quite different as they are relatively smaller than the toilet augers. However, once you go to the market, you can readily find them in different shapes and sizes. In fact, some are just a simple piece of a long straight plastic with sharp edges that helps to attach on clogs when you push it in your drain.


Once you go to the market to look for these plumbing tools, chances are that you will find snakes more affordable compared to the toilet augers. This is because they are essentially the second step to dealing with a clog.

For serious clogs in your home, you should consider using a toilet augers as they are a more of a heavy-duty solution. However, augers do not allow you to move further into the drainage pipe to get deep-seated clogs.

How they clear clogs

Both the toilet auger and the snake can help break through clogs. However, if you use an auger, you can trust that you can get all the clogs out the first time. This is because augers are constructed using a strong metal. Also, this tool has thick cords. As a result, augers are more powerful and can work on more challenging clogs compared to toilet snakes.

The snake on the other hand, will hit your clog and then pull out whatever it has collected. However, some might still remain within your drain. In this case, you have to put your snake down the drain several times before actually removing the entire clog out.

After that, you have to run hot water down your pipes for about 5 minutes just to ensure that the clog is washed away. Therefore, if you want to get rid of a toilet clog quickly, the best plumbing tool to use here is the toilet auger.


If you are looking for a multi-purpose tool that can be used on numerous drains, the drain snake is the best plumbing tool for you. This is because drain snakes are smaller compared to the toilet augers. Therefore, you can readily use the drain snakes for your sink, tubs, and even showers. Apart from this, the drain snake can be used for a toilet that has minor clogs.


Although these tools mentioned above have some differences, as discussed above, they have some similarities. First and foremost, both the toilet auger and the drain snake can help unclog your toilet.

 Apart from serving the same purpose, these tools are designed with some parts that look similar for example the cranks and the cables.

Just like the toilet auger, the snake can also recoil back on you when you are using it.

Which is better for what and why

The toilet auger is better than a snake drain because it can help you save time to unclog a toilet that has deep clogs. This is because this tool is made using a strong metal. As a result, it can help eliminate a clog within minutes, unlike its counterpart, the drain snake.

However, if you are looking for a multi-purpose tool, the drain snake is the best plumbing tool to choose. This is because it can be used on numerous drains. These include the toilet drain, sinks, tubs, and even showers. The toilet auger can only be used on a toilet and not on other drains.

The best tool can also depend on the kind of clog you have in your toilet. If it is a minor clog, either of these tools can be used. However, if it is a major clog, you should consider using a toilet auger as it is strong enough and will help eliminate the clog within minutes.

Toilet auger and snake play a huge role in cleaning clogged drains at home. If you have small kids, they might throw in a massive roll of toilet paper in the toilet, thereby making it clog. Either of these tools can help remove the clog.

However, if the clog is a major one, you might have to rely on a toilet auger. This tool has proved to be very effective for major clogs. Knowing the above differences and similarities will help you know whether to buy a toilet auger or a drain snake.

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