Clearing the Clog: Which Plunger Should You Be Using?

Cleaning the clog - plunger
Cleaning the clog - plunger

Even when we’re careful about what we put down the drains, toilet and sink clogs happen. In fact, clogs are the second most common household plumbing issue, but most people don’t realize different style plungers are intended for different uses. Do you know the differences between the most common plunger styles? This guide will help you know which plunger to reach for the next time you encounter a clog.

The Standard Sink Plunger

When most people picture a plunger, this is the type that comes to mind. Also known as a cup plunger, this standard design has a rubber cup at the end of a straight handle. Best suited for creating a vacuum against a flat surface, this plunger is most effective at combatting clogs in sinks and bathtubs. Before clearing a clog in your kitchen sink, be sure to plug the secondary sink, if you have one. This will allow you to create a vacuum within the pipes and clear the clog.

The Flange Plunger

Similar to the sink plunger, the flange or toilet plunger has a rubber cup at the end of a straight handle, but also features a soft flap (the flange) that unfolds from the inside of the cup. When the flange is unfolded, the bottom of the toilet plunger molds to the curved surface in the bottom of a toilet. This allows the plunger to easily create a seal capable of clearing a clog in the pipes. Because the flange folds up into the cup, a flange plunger can be used on sinks as well. However, to avoid cross contamination, we do not recommend using the same plunger for your sinks that you use in your toilets.

The Accordion Plunger

Also known as a bellows plunger, this hard, plastic plunger works best to clear difficult clogs in the toilet or even the bathtub and shower. Its accordion-like sides create additional pressure, and it features a narrower flange that allows it to create a tighter fit within the toilet bowl. Be careful when using this plunger. It requires more force to use and, because it is made from hard plastic, may end up scratching the porcelain in your toilet bowl.