How To Use A Plunger

Has your toilet been clogged? Or maybe your sink has stopped working? Don’t panic; take out the plunge. Homeowners have revealed that nine out of ten times, they have solved clogged toilet and sink problems using a plunger.

But using a plunger without the right knowledge or technique can create a lot of a mess. Why? Because all the plungers are not the same. Some plungers are best suited for fixing clogged toilets, while others work best for sinks.

If it’s your first time using a plunger, you might want to avoid all the amateur mistakes and learn how to use it like a pro.

Scroll down to understand how a plunger works.

Steps to Use a Plunger for a Sink or Tub


Before you use a plunger to fix a clogged toilet, seal off any nearby drains in the sink or rub. Then try creating a tighter seal with the cup’s rim using a small amount of petroleum jelly to get the best result.

Step 1: Cover with a Wet Towel

Use a wet towel to cover the overflowing drain of a clogged sink or tub. It will decrease the chances of air escaping and reduce the suction power.

Step 2: Place a Rubber Bell

Next, you need to place a rubber bell over the shower drain so that the bell is completely submerged in the standing water. Also, if there’s too much water, you should remove the excess water in a bucket. It will minimize the cleanup and create less mess.

Step 3: Use a Plunger

At last, you need to push down on the handle gently. Then force the air out and continue plunging while directing the pressure down the drain. Do not lift the plunger during the process; it will break the seal and reduce the effect.

Repeat the process for about 20 seconds. But if the clog has not cleared, repeat the process a couple of times more.

Avoid using a plunger and drain cleaning chemicals together because you might splash around harsh toxic substances. In extreme situations, it can cause blindness.

Steps to Use a Plunger for a Toilet

If you have got a clogged toilet, do not ignore the issue. Instead, take the matter into your hand and remove the clog. Here’s what you can do:

Step 1: Fill the Toilet Bowl

Start the process of unclogging by filling the toilet bowl. Properly submerge the head of the plunger in water in a way that the rim of the plunger is covered.

Step 2: Position the Plunger

Wear rubber gloves before positioning the plunger. The flange of the toilet plunger must be pulled out from the cup.

Put the plunger into the toilet bowl at an angle so it traps maximum air. This way, you can compress more water and reduce the plunging force.

The cup over the toilet’s drain hole must be filled. It will create a strong seal around the outside hole.

Step 3: Work the Plunger

While pushing down on the cup, grip the plunger handle with both your hands to create force. While pulling back the plunger, do not break the seal around the hole.

Repeat this process to clear the clog. After the last thrust, forcefully pull the cup. This way, you rapidly alter forces for compression and suction in the toilet drain so the clog loosens.

If the seal is not properly created, your pushing will seem to blow out the cup’s side instead of down the hole. In such a situation, reposition the plunger and repeat the process again.

Repeat the steps a couple of times, so the toilet clog gets cleared without creating a mess. Then keep your plunger aside.

Step 4: Flush the Toilet

At last, remove the tank lid and find the round rubber trap door. It’s your emergency water shutoff if the toilet still remains clogged.

Then flush the toilet. If it flushes normally, the clogging has been removed. Thus, you can set the lid back to its normal position.

But if the clog is still there, push the flapper to stop the water flow to the bowl. Once the toilet tank gets filled, plunge into the toilet.

Why is Plunger Not Working

Is the plunger not working? Has the clog yet not cleared? Here are three possible causes:

#1 Using the Wrong Kind of Plunger

All plungers work the same, right? Nope.

Plungers come in two basic varieties, i.e., cup plunger and flange plunger. The first one is ideal for unclogging drains and showers. In comparison, the latter one is ideal for unclogging toilets and drains.

You should use a flange plunger because it comes with an extension flange with a rubber bell-shaped at the end. This unique design helps create a better seal that clears the clog quickly.

Plungers with no flanges create less pressure, making it difficult to unclog the toilet. So, always check the plunger before using it to avoid mess.

#2 Using Plunger Incorrectly

Even if you have the right plunger, there is a chance that you might not clear the clog. Why? Because your plunger-using technique might be incorrect.

Here’s how you can ensure that the plunger is working well:

  • The flange lip of the plunger must be unfolded.
  • Try creating a tight seal around the toilet drain. The entire drain must be covered, so the pressure does not get loose.
  • While unclogging the toilet, you need to cover the plunger in water. If there is not sufficient water, the clog won’t get removed.
  • Initially, use the plunger gently, so the air is not forced around the seal. Then plunge forcefully while maintaining the seal.

#3 Thinking Clog is Near

Most of the time, we assume that the clog is near when in reality, it’s farther down in the sewer line. A stubborn clog in the drain is caused when you don’t flush the toilet properly.

Try not flushing anything other than toilet paper or waste because it can create a clog. In case you cannot remove the clog after several attempts, contact a plumbing expert to help you.

Alternative to Using a Plunger

If the plunger doesn’t seem to help and the drain is still not clear, don’t panic. Use one of these alternatives to get the best results.

Hot Water and Dish Soap

Add dish soap to boiling water and pour the mixture into the toilet bowl while the water is still hot. After carefully pouring the water, allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Repeat the steps till you get the desired result.

Drain Snake

If the clog is in your sink or shower drain, you can use a drain snake to fix the issue. Wear gloves before starting work so you don’t hurt yourself.

Put the drain snake into the drain, pull it, clean the dirt, and repeat the process until it gets cleared.

Instead of clogging, if your toilet is draining slowly, you can use a toilet auger. For this, you need to put an empty bucket next to the toilet. Make sure the auger cable points down the toilet drain.

Slowly rotate the auger’s crank, so it properly reaches the clog. The crank should be in the opposite direction of the blockage. Regularly remove the dirt and repeat the process till you get the desired result.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Mix baking soda and vinegar. Pour the solution into the toilet bowl and let it stay for 30 minutes. Flush the toilet. If the clog has not yet dissolved, repeat the process.

Call a Plumber

If nothing seems to help, you should hire a plumber to fix the issue. They have the right tools and knowledge to fix even the most stubborn clog.


Using a plunger to unclog the sink, shower, or toilet is easy, but if you don’t take the right steps, you might create a mess.

If it’s the first time using a plunger, adequately prepare and keep patience. Plungers don’t always remove the clog on the first attempt. That means you need to repeat the steps a couple of times.

© 2021 Scrappy Geek ScrappyGeek is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by
Send this to a friend