Toilet Plunger vs Sink Plunger: Differences

It’s not unlikely that you have used these two household items interchangeably. Well, it might have worked one or two times, but using the wrong plunger on your household fitting can cause damage.

The toilet and sink plunger work with suction to unclog pipes and vents in their respective areas, but they’re completely different. While the sink type is basic in design, cheaper and best for flat surfaces, the toilet plunger has more features, slightly expensive and used on multiple surfaces. Even with the rubber suction, sink plungers don’t offer adequate push and pull force compared to toilet variant

Read the subsections below, and discover what more there’s to know about the sink and toilet plunger. Moreover, learn about additional plunger types and tips you might not know about.

Toilet Plunger Vs Sink Plunger: Differences

FEATURESTOILET PLUNGERSINK PLUNGER
UsesBest Clogged toilets, can also be used for tub drains and sinksClogged sinks
AppearanceBell-shaped-Cup with rubber flap from insideOpen Cup-shaped
Functionality Soft rubber flap that folds out from inside for suctionNo soft rubber for suction
SurfaceBest for flat and non-flat surfacesBest flat surfaces
CostSlightly expensiveCheaper
Comparing Toilet and Sink Plunger

Sink/Standard Toilet plunger

The sink plunger is also referred to as the standard plunger since it’s the most basic type of the two. Most homes can attest to having the universal cup-shaped suction that they use for their kitchen, bathroom, and toilet.

It features a rubber cup with a straight wooden handle attached. Sizes may differ, but the structure is unilateral.

sink plunger
sink plungers

A sink plunger works best on flat surfaces like the sink, obviously! This way, the rubber cup can create a vacuum against the drain allowing you to plunge and unclog the pipes. This particular plunger can also be used in the toilet, however, the drainage area of the loo doesn’t have a flat base,  which means there will be air pockets left.

This improper positioning is what makes it difficult to use to dislodge any clogs since there isn’t enough suction. As for the bathroom, it can be used if there’s a flat surface like in a bathtub or even a standing bathroom. Hence, in summary, the cup plunger is best used on flat surfaces such as the bathtubs, kitchen sinks, and bathrooms.

Toilet Plunger

Next up is the toilet plunger, also called the flange plunger. It has a bell shape which elongates from a cup. If you shop at the hardware stores you’ll see a plunger with a cup shape just like that of the sink, however, this one has a soft rubber flap, which folds out from inside the cup forming a bell.

Toilet plunger

The rubber flap on this plunger is exactly what makes it the perfect choice for the toilet since the fold-out flap fits well in the toilet drain. This will then create a vacuum and the necessary pressure needed to clear any toilet clogs. The flaps inside the cup allow this plunger to be used on sinks, tubs, and any other curved vents in the house.

What’s more, the flange plunger offers versatility and flexibility to fit just about any drain, making this the ultimate all-rounded household essential. If you had to choose one plunger for all your home needs; this is the choice. However, it’s not recommended to have one plunger for all surfaces as this can lead to cross-contamination, and frankly, it’s simply unhygienic.

An additional benefit is a storage; even with a huge bell shape, the plunger can be tucked in, therefore utilizing minimal storage space.

One last thing, the flange plunger can have several styles besides the main bell shape.

Further Reading

How to Clean a Toilet Plunger in 4 Ways

Types/Styles of Toilet Plungers

Below is a categorical look at the different styles a toilet plunger can be manufactured.

A Beehive Plunger

Resembles a beehive; round, cylindrical, and with a wide midsection. Even with a round shape, the silhouette has a huge flange at the far end which can offer a vacuum seal for any drain in the home. This may be the only seal that works on both narrow and wide drains calling for more recess on wide tube lines.

A Bellow – Style Plunger

This plunger can easily be mistaken for an accordion plunger. It’s a collapsible bowl-shaped plunger with a huge push and pulls force. It has one of the greatest water displacements even more than the traditional plunger. In terms of working, it is very efficient; working to clear clogs quicker than any other plunger.

What’s more, the plunger has the shortest handle of the three toilet plunger styles. Therefore, ensure you select the right height for your household.

A Traditional Flanged Plunger

Last, but not least, the traditional flange plunger. Cup-shaped with a narrow and tiered flange that easily creates a seal at the bottom of the toilet. It does, however, need much more pressure than the other two plunger styles above.

For all the above plunger styles, they work to clear clogs the same way, however, the beehive and bellow styled flange plunger work better.

Other Types of Plungers

There are two other types of plungers available in the market that you can also use, but once you have the understanding.

Accordion Plunger

Yet another toilet plunger is the accordion plunger. What’s unique about this type is that it’s very small in size, hence, it can fit just about any toilet bowl. The smaller cup allows for the plunger to reach even the farthest of clogs, however, it’s not effective on other drains or pipes.

Unfortunately, the plunger needs way too much energy exerted for it to work. The plastic cup is harder than the rubber cups from the two former plungers described above. Due to its sturdy plastic make, creating a vacuum seal becomes even a harder task. Without this positive force, it will be hard to dislodge any clogs in your pipes.

Lastly, many people don’t prefer using the accordion plunger as it’s not versatile and two, the plastic tends to leave scratch marks in the toilet bowl.

Taze Plunger

A rather uncommon household drainer is the taze plunger. It resembles a disc with a long steel rod that meant to fit into specific pipes. They unclog drains by pushing the disc against any clogging matter in the pipes. It’s more of a professionally used drain since it’s specialty lies with large pipes like those of a sewer line.

There’s no reason to purchase this type of plunger since the works require disintegrating the pipe connection to clear an entryway for the steel rod to fit.

Plunging Tips

Even with the right plunger, you may not be doing the plunging the right way. Here are a few tips to aid you with that.

  • Always use the right type of plunger on the right surface. The article above describes in detail which plunger is best on which surfaces
  • Always hold up the plunger know in a vertical position perpendicular to the base of the household fitting.
  • Submerge the cupping part of the plunger fully into the water.
  • They clearing out air slowly using light strokes; especially for the flange plunger.
  • If you’re unclogging a sink with double sink design, ensure to seal the second sink as you work on the other. This way it can unclog the drain on both sides.
  • Ensure you don’t break the suction seal as you plunge.
  • Plunger size matters. Don’t use a mini plunger on a wide sink, you’ll only be introducing more negative air in the drain.
  • Always check for cracks, tears, or breaks on the flange/ cup before you begin plunging.
  • If you have adjacent sinks or tubs from where you’re trying to unclog, close them up as well to create positive pressure.
  • Don’t indulge in forceful thrusts unless the clog is persistent.
  • If the plunging isn’t helping, avoid the use of chemical treatments and simply seek professional assistance from plumbers.

Plungers & Plunging

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