Magnetic collar on canister holds plunger in tight. Flat top handle lets you get plenty of force. Works well on clogs.
Does not work well on elongated toilet openings.
Can take care of clogs in one plunge. Fits most toilets and doesn't take a lot of strength to move water through.
Powerful enough to spray a lot of water if it doesn't have a good seal.
Bulb design fits well into most toilets – even ones with odd shaped openings. Handle end gives good grip without hurting your hand.
Some users report the bulb getting stuck in the down position and splashing when it releases.
Flexible rubber plunges and returns to initial shape without splashing. Cleans well after use, leaving no dirty water inside the bell.
Has trouble fitting in square toilet openings.
Can be stored in the bathroom without being an eyesore. Holes in canister bottom let it dry without getting water on the floor. Extra long handle keeps you well away from toilet water.
Strong rubber scent that comes from the use of natural rather than synthetic rubber.
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A plunger is one of those items you don’t really think about until you need it. And, eventually, everyone needs one. Plungers may be a basic home product, but some models come in designs meant to blend in with trendy bathroom décor, while others are unfussy and simply get the job done. If you’re not sure what kind of plunger you need, you’ve come to the right place.
At BestReviews, we dig deep to find the best products available on the market today. We interview experts, test products, and assess consumer reviews to bring you the information you need to make an informed purchase. We don’t accept free manufacturer samples. We’re testing the same products you buy off the shelves and order online.
We created this shopping guide to give you an overview of the types of plungers available along with the features you might need. Don’t forget to check out our top five picks above to see which plungers we think stand out from the rest.
Finding the right plunger means considering a number of factors, including the kind of clog, the shape of the drain, and the quality of the materials used to make the plunger. There are also different kinds of plungers suited to different jobs.
Common plunger with rubber cup and wooden handle
Various models (handle length, cup size)
Added flange for better suction
Works on most drain types
Accordion flange to increase suction (some models)
Flange requires careful cleaning
Unique design for more suction
Requires less effort to use
Added flange (some models)
Can be hard to create tight seal
Stiff plastic cup hard to keep over drain
The plunger moves water through a clog, not air, so make sure your toilet bowl is full before plunging.
Most plungers work on round drains set in a flat surface. Traditionally, all toilet drains were round. Today, many modern toilets have oval or elongated drains, making it difficult to get a good seal with a sink plunger. Accordion plungers with a flange are a little better at getting a good seal on an elongated opening. Toilet plungers work best because the flange fits inside the drain opening, no matter the shape, and the rubber creates a strong seal.
The cup of the plunger should be completely submerged to move enough water through the clog to break it up. If there isn’t enough water, add more using a cup or bucket.
Straight: Straight handles may be traditional, but they aren’t the easiest to use. To create the pressure you need to remove clogs, you’ll have to press the palm of your hand on the end of the handle. Your hand can quickly get sore if you’ve got a stubborn clog.
T-Post: T-post handles, like the name suggests, have an extra piece across the end of the handle to create a T. This design saves your hand and lets you plunge longer.
Keep the plunger handle straight in line with the cup. You can’t apply proper force at an angle. You’re also more likely to lose the seal.
Some plungers come with a coordinating storage canister. Spring-loaded canisters automatically pop open when you pull on the plunger handle, while others look like a bowl or small bucket in which the plunger can be placed to drain. Canisters need to be cleaned regularly to remove dirty water. Canisters come in many designs, so you can find one to fit your bathroom décor. While you can’t completely hide a plunger, at least a canister helps it blend in.
The hard plastic in accordion plungers can scratch some surfaces. Rubber doesn’t scratch, and it flexes better than plastic.
Plastic: You’ll find plungers with plastic handles, cups, or both. If you buy a plastic plunger, make sure it’s of good quality. Low-quality plastic may crack or discolor, and it may be too stiff to effectively plunge.
Wood: Wooden handles are common on sink and toilet plungers. Most don’t have a T-post or palm pad, but they’re durable.
Keep your plunger clean and dry to prevent cracking or ripping. A cracked cup won’t be able to get a good seal.
Some plungers, especially toilet and accordion plungers, get water trapped within the cup or folds of the accordion. Even with rinsing, some of these models can be hard to keep clean, leading to mold and bacteria growth and unpleasant smells.
You might think you need to apply the most pressure when pressing down, but it’s more effective to apply steady downward pressure and bring the handle back up quickly without breaking the seal.
Inexpensive: For less than $5, you can find an inexpensive sink, toilet, or accordion plunger made of plastic or rubber and wood. These plungers are usually small and not meant for difficult clogs.
Mid-Range: In the $5 to $20 range, you’ll find good-quality sink, toilet, and accordion plungers. The materials are better at this price, and some come with a storage canister. Many of these models also have palm pad or T-post handles.
Clean the plunger after use. Storage canisters allow you to keep the plunger in the bathroom, but you’ll need to keep the plunger clean or it can start to smell.
Plungers can make some clogs worse. Plungers are designed to break clogs into smaller pieces so the pieces can move down the pipes. Clogs that include toys or large pieces of soap can be made worse by using a plunger because it pushes the clog deeper into the pipe.
Q. My toilet has an oval-shaped drain. What kind of plunger should I use?
A. Drains with an irregular shape or with unevenly shaped surroundings make it difficult to get a good seal. Toilet plungers with flanges work best, but you still may run into some difficulties. A toilet plunger with an accordion flange gives you even more suction because each level of the accordion acts as a sealing point. You’ll need to be careful when plunging because water may squirt toward you if the seal isn’t tight.
Q. What kind of plunger should I use on a low-flow toilet?
A. The shape of the drain opening and the surrounding area affect what type of plunger you need, not the low-flow toilet itself. Toilet plungers work best on toilets in general. If the drain opening is small enough for an accordion plunger to cover it, this type of plunger can allow you to apply a lot of pressure to the clog with less effort.
Q. Does the handle length affect a plunger’s effectiveness?
A. Handle length affects your ability to plunge more than it does the effectiveness of the plunger. You might have to hunch over to use a short-handled plunger, possibly straining your back and shoulders. If you’re short, a long handle won’t allow you to apply as much force as the clog requires. Accordion plungers usually have shorter handles than either toilet or sink plungers because they don’t require as much force to create adequate suction. Toilet plungers usually have the longest handles. Look for a plunger that fits your drain so you can get the best seal, a much more important factor than handle length.