4 Types of Drain Plungers and How to Choose One

Black toilet plunger angled above toilet bowl

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Plungers are basic household tools that are designed to deal with drain clogs of all sorts. Since drain clogs are common plumbing problems, drain plungers offer an extremely effective, inexpensive, and easy way to unclog drains

A plunger works its magic by simple suction and pressure. When the rubber cup of the plunger is sealed down over the drain opening and the handle is moved up and down, the pressure of water forced up and down will dislodge most clogs and allow them to continue on through the drain pipes. There are various types of plungers, each designed to be used on different types of drains. Below, we’ll break down the types of plungers and the factors you should consider when choosing which is best for you and your needs.

  • 01 of 04

    Standard Plunger

    Clay-colored sink/standard plunger on bathroom floor

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    Best for: Sinks

    This very basic plunger is what most people think of when talking about plungers. A standard plunger has a rubber cup at the end of a straight handle, usually made of wood. Sometimes the handle of the cup is a different size, but the basic structure stays the same.

    This is considered a sink plunger because it really only works well on a flat surface, like a sink, where the cup can lay flat over the drain and create the vacuum necessary to properly plunge and dislodge the sink clog.

    In a pinch, this plunger can potentially be used to clear clogs in other fixtures, such as a toilet, but it can be difficult to position the cup in a way that creates enough suction. It's much better to have a plunger designed for toilets. 

  • 02 of 04

    Toilet Plunger With Flap

    Black toilet plunger on bathroom floor

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    Best for: General use

    A toilet plunger has a cup, like that of the sink plunger, but it also has a soft rubber flap that folds out from inside the cup. This type of plunger is also called a flange plunger. The fold-out flap fits quite well into the toilet drain opening, making it easy to form the necessary suction to clear a toilet clog.

    With the flap folded inside the cup, this plunger can also be used on a sink or tub drain to create a seal. A toilet plunger is perhaps the best option for all-around home use because the fold-out flap provides flexibility to allow it to fit just about any drain.

  • 03 of 04

    Accordion Plunger

    Black accordion plunger on bathroom floor

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    Best for: Toilets

    This interesting-looking plunger has a design even better suited for clearing toilet clogs because it has a smaller cup. It is not very well suited for use on other drains. It can produce quite a bit of force but it is not very easy to use. The plastic that it's made of is quite hard, so creating a vacuum seal over the drain is a challenge. This is a powerful but not very versatile plunger.

  • 04 of 04

    Taze Plunger

    Taze plunger disc on bathroom floor

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    Best for: Large pipes

    A taze plunger is used for clearing large pipes and not the typical household drain clog. A taze plunger consists of a disc sized to fit a particular pipe size and a long steel rod that pushes the disc into the pipe.

    Since this type of plunger is not meant for use on a typical household drain, it isn’t an option for homeowners. This is a specialty tool normally owned only by professionals. 

There is also a range of quality in plungers. When selecting a new plunger, make your choice based on how and where it will be used and also on its quality. Selecting the right plunger can make using it correctly that much easier. And these are such inexpensive tools that there's no reason you shouldn't have several on hand.