DrainChecker Blog

How to use a plunger

The plunger is one of those tools that’s very simple but at the same time, very effective. There are no moving parts, no mechanics, essentially it’s just a wooden handle attached to a rubber cup. But it’s a quick, easy and effective remedy if you have a blockage in your sink or toilet, so it’s one of those tools we recommend every household should have!

The principle behind a plunger is simple. When the rubber cup is pressed down, the air that was in the cup is forced down onto the blockage. When the plunger is pulled back up, a vacuum is created, pulling the blockage upwards and helping to unclog it.

The most basic type of plunger is the cup plunger. This is best used on flat surfaces such as the bottom of a sink, bath, or shower. Place the plunger over the plughole and ensure a tight suction. Cover with a few inches of water, and block any overflows with wet towels, so the whole system is sealed making the alternating air pressure and vacuum more effective. Then try pulling up and pushing down the handle for around 20 seconds at a time, and you’ll find the blockage should clear. Please note that if you’ve previously poured drain unblocker or other chemicals down the plughole to try and unblock it, that using a plunger could cause these chemicals to splash around and potentially get on your skin or in your eyes. So wear rubber gloves and eye protection.

If you have a blocked toilet, a flange plunger is the tool to use. This has an extra bit of rubber which helps create a better seal on the curved sides of the toilet bowl. There should be enough water to cover the plunger cup. Make sure the plunger forms a seal over the bottom of the toilet bowl. Apply even pressure, again pushing and pulling the plunger vertically for around 20 seconds at a time. You can start off quite gently and get more vigorous as you get used to the plunger, just watch out for splashes! Try not to break the seal and lose suction. Keep plunging until you feel that the blockage loosens. You should then be able to flush it away.


If you have a plunger and you’re confident in using it, then give it a go. If not, remember that Happy Drains are here to help with all kinds of blocked drain issues!