a black toilet plunger with a wooden handle, dripping with some water

Toilet Plunger

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 12/28/2020

If you're trying to figure out how to unclog a toilet with a plunger, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got the right plunger for the job. That’s because not all plungers are created equally. Some plungers work better on sinks and tubs and others are designed specifically to fit inside your toilet bowl -- like the toilet plunger.


A toilet plunger, sometimes referred to as a flange plunger, is a special type of suction cup plunger with a sleeve-like extension (the flange) at the opening of the rubber cup. The flange fits into the drain hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl, creating a good seal and making it more effective than a basic cup plunger that’s used for sinks and tubs. Toilet plungers typically come with attached wooden or plastic handles. 

How To Use A Plunger The Right Way — It’s All In The Seal

In order for a plunger to work effectively, there needs to be a good seal created between the plunger cup and the drain. Here are a couple tips:

  • Make sure the plunger cup is submerged (as much as possible) in standing water to help create a good seal and lots of pressure. Lower the plunger into the water on an angle to allow water inside the plunger as too much air in the plunger cup will reduce the force of the plunger.
  • Use the right plunger for the right job! Use a toilet plunger to unclog your toilet and use a regular cup plunger for sinks and drains. Tip: The flange on most toilet plungers folds inside to double as a cup plunger.