How to use a plunger

Clogged drains are a common household nuisance that can disrupt our daily routines. Fortunately, with the right tool and technique, you can quickly resolve many drain blockages yourself. A plunger is a simple yet effective tool that can help you clear clogs in sinks, tubs, and toilets. In this article, we will guide you through the process of using a plunger effectively, ensuring a hassle-free experience.

use a plunger

Dealing with a clogged drain can be frustrating, but before you call a professional plumber, it’s worth trying a plunger to clear the blockage yourself. Plungers work by creating pressure and suction to dislodge the clog and restore proper drainage. Understanding how to use a plunger correctly will save you time, money, and the inconvenience of a backed-up drain.

Understanding the Purpose of a Plunger

A plunger is a simple yet versatile tool used to clear blockages in drains. Its design consists of a rubber cup attached to a handle. By applying pressure and creating a seal over the drain opening, the plunger can generate suction, dislodging the clog and allowing the water to flow freely again.

Types of Plungers

There are several types of plungers available, each designed for specific purposes. The most common ones are:

  • Standard Cup Plunger: This is the most recognizable type of plunger, featuring a rubber cup with a flat rim. It is suitable for use on flat surfaces such as sinks and tubs.
  • Flange Plunger: This plunger has an additional soft rubber flap, known as a flange, which helps create a better seal. It is particularly effective for toilets due to its ability to fit into the drain opening.
  • Taze Plunger: This plunger is specially designed for clearing clogs in toilets. It features an accordion-like bellows that provides additional suction power, making it easier to dislodge stubborn clogs.

Preparation Before Using a Plunger

Before you begin plunging, it’s essential to take some preparatory steps to ensure a successful outcome and protect yourself from any potential issues. Follow these precautions:

  • Safety Precautions: Wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear to prevent any splashes or contamination during the process.
  • Gather Necessary Materials: Have a bucket or a large container nearby to collect any excess water that may splash out during plunging. Additionally, keep old towels or rags handy for cleanup purposes.

Using a Plunger on a Sink or Tub Drain

When faced with a clogged sink or tub drain, using a plunger can help you clear the obstruction quickly. Follow these steps:

  1. Clearing the Drain: Remove any debris or visible blockages from the drain, if possible, to facilitate better suction.
  2. Creating a Seal: Position the plunger over the drain opening, ensuring a tight seal. The rubber cup should cover the entire opening.
  3. Applying Pressure and Releasing: Push the plunger down firmly to create pressure, and then pull up forcefully to generate suction. Repeat this motion several times, gradually increasing the force with each plunge.
  4. Repeating the Process if Necessary: If the water starts to drain, continue plunging a few more times to ensure the clog is entirely cleared. If the blockage persists, consider using a plumbing snake or calling a professional plumber.

Using a Plunger on a Toilet

A clogged toilet can be a cause for concern, but before you panic, reach for a plunger. Follow these steps to effectively unclog your toilet:

  1. Positioning the Plunger: Insert the flange of the plunger into the toilet bowl’s drain opening, ensuring a tight fit.
  2. Creating a Seal: Press the plunger against the drain opening to create a tight seal. The flange should be fully submerged in the water.
  3. Applying Pressure and Releasing: Push the plunger down gently at first, and then increase the force gradually. Pull up forcefully to create suction. Repeat this plunging motion several times.
  4. Flushing and Checking for Proper Drainage: After several plunges, flush the toilet to check if the water drains freely. If the water level decreases and the drain is clear, your plunging efforts were successful. If not, repeat the process or seek professional assistance.

Additional Tips for Effective Plunging

For stubborn clogs that may require extra effort, try the following techniques:

  • Using Petroleum Jelly: Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly around the rim of the plunger cup to create a better seal and improve suction.
  • Applying Hot Water: Before plunging, pour hot water into the drain to help loosen the clog, making it easier to remove.
  • Using a Plumbing Snake if Necessary: If the plunger fails to clear the clog, consider using a plumbing snake to reach deeper into the pipes and break up the obstruction. Exercise caution when using a snake, or seek professional assistance if you’re unsure.

Preventive Measures for Avoiding Clogged Drains

Prevention is always better than a cure. To minimize the chances of encountering clogged drains, follow these preventive measures:

  • Dispose of food scraps and grease properly, avoiding pouring them down the drain.
  • Use drain screens to catch hair and other debris.
  • Regularly clean your drains using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.
  • Avoid flushing non-flushable items down the toilet.


Using a plunger is a simple yet effective way to clear clogs in drains. By following the correct technique and taking necessary precautions, you can save time, money, and the hassle of dealing with a clogged drain. Remember to choose the appropriate plunger for the job and implement preventive measures to minimize the chances of future blockages.


Q1. Can I use a plunger on a shower drain? Yes, a standard cup plunger can be used on a shower drain. Ensure a tight seal and follow the plunging technique as described in the article.

Q2. Is it safe to use a plunger on a clogged toilet? Yes, plungers are specifically designed for clearing toilet clogs. Just ensure that the plunger has a flange that fits into the toilet drain opening.

Q3. Can a plunger damage my pipes? When used correctly, plungers should not damage your pipes. However, avoid using excessive force or using a plunger if you suspect a more significant issue with your plumbing system.

Q4. What should I do if plunging doesn’t clear the clog? If plunging doesn’t clear the clog, consider using a plumbing snake to reach deeper into the pipes. Alternatively, you may need to call a professional plumber for assistance.

Q5. How often should I clean my drains to prevent clogs? Regularly cleaning your drains with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda once a month can help prevent clogs. However, the frequency may vary depending on your usage and specific circumstances.

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