Dirty toilets. Overflowing toilets. Clogged toilets. There are so many bad puns and juvenile (but funny!) jokes I could make about this subject but I will spare you. The fact is, we have all been faced with a clogged toilet. It's gross and occasionally alarming. Even worse is when you've clogged said toilet in someone else's home and you are frantically trying to resolve the crisis and save face. What is the best way to unclog and clean a toilet? What are the best (and least ugly) plungers and brushes out there?
There's a good chance you have the wrong kind of plunger. Did you know the classic cup plunger (the kind that comes in countless colors and sizes and sells everywhere) is ideal for sinks, baths and showers--but NOT for toilets? Instead, you should be using the flange type of plunger, which has an extended rubber lip that sticks out of the bottom of the plunger (examples are in the bottom row in the image above). This extra circle of rubber provides a better seal over the toilet hole for maximum vacuum and limits slippage and splashing. There's another kind that has a bellows which allows for more air to be exerted on the clog, but these tend not to come in attractive little canisters so I haven't profiled them here.
Tips for using a plunger:
• Press down firmly but slowly and steadily (don't jerk the plunger). If you use too much pressure you could shove the clogged nastiness further down the drain.
• Make sure the hole is completely covered.
• The plunger must be fully submerged or else you are just pushing air (add water to the bowl if needed).
• Pull up on the plunger to create adequate suction to loosen the clog.
• If the toilet ends up drained of water but still clogged, leave the plunger in the bowl and fill the bowl with water up to the point it normally is after a flush. Resume plunging. Rinse, repeat. Enjoy!
If your plunger fails to do the job, try an auger, also known as a toilet snake (they are amazing, trust me). Never use chemical products like Drano unless you have failed to unclog using these mechanical methods. It is dangerous to use caustic chemicals in conjunction with plungers because you can splash the toxins all over yourself.
Toilet Brushes and Plungers
When buying toilet brushes and plungers, some kind of canister or holder is crucial. No one wants to look at the gunk build-up on your toilet tools. The products below (many of which are from the Gadget Gods at OXO) are discrete, inoffensive-looking and effective.
1 Michael Graves toilet brush from Target, $9.29.
2 Stainless steel toilet brush from The Container Store, $12.99.
3 Slimline toilet brush from The Container Store, $10.99.
4 OXO brush in stainless steel from Amazon, $39.99.
5 OXO brush in white from Amazon, $14.99.
6 Oxo flexible neck brush from Target, $18.99.
7 Toilet snake from Amazon, $14.05.
8 OXO flange plunger in white from Amazon, $21.99.
9 OXO flange plunger in stainless steel from Amazon, $39.99.
10 OXO plunger and brush set from Amazon, $28.10.
Images: As credited above.