The Best Toilet Plungers for Bathroom Emergencies
Clear those troublesome toilet clogs with the right plunger to bring flawless flushing back to your bathroom.
Stuff happens—and alas, so do stuffed-up toilets. Excessive amounts of toilet paper, waste, hygiene products, and even hair can flummox a smooth flush, and when a clog occurs you’ve got to address it pronto. That means a plunger: a simple yet essential plumbing tool that creates suction to banish blockages from drains and pipes with forced air.
There are several different types of plungers. A short-handled plunger made for the flat drains in a shower, tub, or sink won’t cut it in your commode. You’ll need a plunger designed specifically for toilet use. A toilet plunger features a pronounced flange (a short tube-like flap of rubber) on the bottom of its cup. This flange fits snugly into the toilet drain to create an air seal while also minimizing splash-back. Once the flange is inserted, you push and pull the handle to dislodge the clog.
Even among toilet plungers, different models are distinguished by different designs, construction materials, and price points. Keep reading for key info on how to choose among the options, and don’t miss our top recommendations among the best toilet plunger options out there.
- – BEST OVERALL: Korky Beehive Max
- BEST VALUE: JS Jackson Supplies Professional Bellows Accordion Toilet Plunger – CLASSIC PICK: MR.SIGA Toilet Plunger and Bowl Brush Combo – UPGRADE PICK: SurePlunger Automatic Toilet Plunger
Types of Toilet Plungers
There are four basic types of toilet plungers, each with its own angle on clearing clogs.
- Traditional: Probably the image that comes to mind when you think of a plunger, the traditional type is shaped like a bell and has a flange underneath.
- Beehive: Aptly named, a beehive plunger resembles what a cartoon bear might try to pull from a tree—round in the middle and tapered on both ends. This progressively wider shape, along with the flange, makes a beehive plunger well suited to sealing a variety of drain sizes and shapes.
- Bellows: Shaped like an accordion, a bellows plunger is highly collapsible and moves a lot of air and water when compressed, so it’s great for clearing stubborn clogs. However, achieving a seal can be tricky because bellows plungers are usually made of stiff materials like plastic to maintain their accordion shape during use. Applying a thin bead of petroleum jelly may help to close off any gaps.
- Tiered: Tiered plungers resemble their traditional counterparts but feature a stepped flange—usually in four sizes—meant to fit into specifically sized drains. While designed to be universal, they’re often more difficult to fit than a beehive, while also having less volume than a bellows-style model.
Plunger material is mighty important. For compression and suction, a softer, more pliable rubber takes a lot less effort to operate than a thick, rigid rubber. Thick rubber is more rugged, so it’s preferred by pros in commercial applications where plungers are frequently used, but for the average home, stick with something you can easily operate.
Handle material is also worth considering. A plunger with a flimsy plastic handle will flex and bend—not helpful when working on a clog—while a model with a bare wooden handle can collect bacteria in the porous material. Look for a plunger with a sturdy PVC, painted wood, or aluminum handle that will be strong and easy to clean.
Plunging toilets is an inherently messy job, so the further you can stay away from the toilet water, the better. Pick a plunger with a fairly long handle—21 to 24 inches—to keep your hands and upper body out of the splash zone.
Drip Trays and Stands
Don’t put a dripping, germy plunger you’ve just pulled from the toilet into a cabinet or closet, or even on your bathroom floor, without a means to collect nasty errant water. Some quality models come with a drip tray or stand, but others don’t. If you don’t want to buy a stand or tray separately, rig something up with a bucket or flowerpot.
Not all toilet drains are alike. Depending on manufacturer and design, they may be at different angles or have completely different shapes. The drains of high-efficiency toilet (HET) models, developed fairly recently, have a different shape than their predecessors. It can be difficult to fit an older-style plunger into a HET drain and form an effective seal, which makes universal plungers more necessary now than ever.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST OVERALL: Korky Beehive Max
One of the first truly universal plungers (according to the manufacturer), the Korky Beehive Max is designed to fit old-style toilet drains as well as the newer HETs. This model has a soft, pliable plunging end and a sturdy T-shaped handle, allowing you to get a good grip for stubborn obstructions. Some reviewers have remarked that the bell can flip inside out (likely because the user failed to get a proper seal), an inconvenience corrected by tapping the bell against the toilet rim before continuing to plunge.
Banish tough clogs and stay on budget with the JS Jackson Supplies’ Accordion Toilet Plunger. Like all accordion plungers, its main appeal is the volume and force it can create, and this model is made of thick, resilient plastic that collapses easily but is rugged enough for many repeat plunges. The handle detaches for deep cleaning, but the resulting joint between handle and bellows is susceptible to leaking air and pressure loss during use.
3. CLASSIC PICK: MR.SIGA Toilet Plunger and Bowl Brush Combo
Featuring a tried-and-true design, the old-school clog buster in the MR.SIGA Toilet Plunger and Bowl Brush Combo kit works just fine. Plus, it comes with a stand and drip tray combination to minimize messes, as well as a toilet brush sure to come in handy for cleanups. Some reviewers complain that the thicker rubber bell makes plunging a workout, so if you don’t have the muscles, go for a more pliant plunger.
4. UPGRADE PICK: SurePlunger Automatic Toilet Plunger
The SurePlunger Automatic Toilet Plunger uses compressed gas to force waste through the drain, eliminating the pushing and pulling conventional plungers require. Looking a bit like a field hockey stick, it’s designed to be inserted into the drain at an angle that promotes a good seal. You then insert a CO2 cartridge into the handle and press a button to release a blast of compressed gas. In theory, that blast should be forceful enough to dislodge the clog—but if you don’t get a perfect seal, you risk spraying wastewater all over your bathroom. It comes with a starter pack of three single-use CO2 cartridges, but you’ll have to purchase more separately, and the included stand doesn’t do much to catch dripping wastewater.