The Best Toilet Plungers for the Bathroom

If you're looking for a plunger to help you clear those troublesome toilet clogs, start here with our top tips and recommendations.

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The Best Toilet Plunger Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

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. For your commode, a short-handled plunger made for the flat drains in a shower, tub, or sink won’t cut it. 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 info on navigating the options, and don’t miss our top-favorite picks among the best toilet plungers available.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Korky Beehive Max
  2. BEST VALUE: JS Jackson Supplies Professional Toilet Plunger
  3. CLASSIC PICK: MR.SIGA Toilet Plunger and Bowl Brush Combo
  4. UPGRADE PICK: SurePlunger Automatic Toilet Plunger
The Best Toilet Plunger Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

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.

Shopping Considerations

Material

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.

Handle Length

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.

Drain Styles

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

Best Overall

The Best Toilet Plunger Option: Korky Beehive Max
Photo: amazon.com

The Korky Beehive Max is a universal toilet plunger, designed to fit old-style toilet drains as well as those of newer high-efficiency toilets. This model has a soft, pliable plunging end and a sturdy T-shaped handle, allowing you to get a good grip for stubborn obstructions. The bell can flip inside out sometimes, which is inconvenient, but this issue can be corrected quickly by tapping the bell against the toilet rim.

Best Value

The Best Toilet Plunger Option: JS Jackson Supplies Professional Toilet Plunger
Photo: amazon.com

JS Jackson Supplies’ Accordion Toilet Plunger is a budget-friendly option well worthy of consideration. Like all accordion plungers, its main point of 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.

Classic Pick

The Best Toilet Plunger Option: MR.SIGA Toilet Plunger and Bowl Brush Combo
Photo: amazon.com

For a toilet plunger with an old-school design, check out the MR.SIGA Toilet Plunger and Bowl Brush Combo. The product comes with a stand and drip tray to help minimize messes, and it also includes a toilet brush that can come in handy time and time again. Just note that the thicker rubber bell makes plunging somewhat of a workout.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Toilet Plunger Option: SurePlunger Automatic Toilet Plunger
Photo: amazon.com

The SurePlunger Automatic Toilet Plunger uses compressed gas to force waste through the drain. That means operating this model does not require the pushing and pulling associated with conventional plungers. To operate, first insert the SurePlunger at an angle into the toilet drain. Next, add a CO2 cartridge (included) into the handle and press a button. That releases a strong blast of compressed gas, which works to dislodge the clog within the toilet plumbing.