We spent over 28 hours reading, researching, and testing plungers to see which worked best. We even consulted with Hotel Maintenance personnel at a top-notch hotel to learn what design they like best. After much deliberation, and after much pulling and pushing, we found the Korky Beehive-style Plunger to be the best plunger on the market.
Table of Contents
History of Toilets
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, flush toilets were invented in 1569, although they didn’t become widely used until 1851. However, archaeological excavations in northern India have revealed 4,000-year-old drainage systems that are thought to have been used as flush toilets, thus making the actual history and timeline of their development a bit vague.
Amazingly, humans have long understood the basic aspects of sanitation. Even as far back as the Romans, Roman engineers designed outdoor latrines that fed directly into the sewer system, thus keeping waste out of the drinking water. In fact, in 315 A.D., the city of Rome had 144 public toilets. Yes, that’s right: Public. Strangely enough, the Romans looked at going to the toilet as a social event. Often, their toilet seats were cut out along the same piece of stone – right next to one another – without any dividing walls. This was a great way for citizens to catch up on local news and events. Truth.
It is also widely known that castles in medieval England were the first architectural structures ever designed with integrated toilets. These first toilets were basically just a hole that angled out of the castle walls and ran vertically to the ground, thus ridding the castle of human waste, and keeping it far from living quarters.Interestingly, these holes were referred to as “potties.”
These “potties” eventually transformed into small rooms that protruded from castle walls with an open hole towards the ground. They were known as “garderobes” which literally translates into “guarding one’s robes.”
An interesting fact about garderobes is that people often hung their clothing inside the small room hoping that the strong smell of ammonia would chase fleas and other insects out of their clothing.
Unfortunately, the waste often wound up on the streets below where it posed a health risk to commoners. Can you say Cholera outbreak?
Victorian and Edwardian Times
Although the population of Britain grew during exponentially during the 19th century, the number of toilets did not. In some overcrowded cities such as Manchester and London, some toilets were shared by over 100 people, and subsequently, the sewage often spilled out into the streets and the rivers.
In the 1830s and 1850s, leaking sewage was a leading cause of cholera outbreaks that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.
From this, the government made a decree that every new household needed to be built with its own Water Closet (WC) to maintain public health. Also, they commissioned the construction of sewer systems in central London. The project was completed in 1858 and greatly reduced the number of deaths from cholera, typhoid, and other waterborne diseases.
In 1861, a Mr. Thomas Crapper was hired by the British monarchy to design and build lavatories in several of the royal palaces. To this day, he is thought of as the inventor of the modern flush toilet.
Today, the design of the toilet has advanced to where it is now a central design element in our homes and offices. Many an architect can tell you stories of designing bathrooms around window views as well as what can be seen within the house from the toilet.
The biggest development in toilets in recent years is the requirement that all new toilets sold must be High-Efficiency Toilets – meaning that they only use 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Originally, these didn’t work as well as manufacturers had hoped, but the kinks have been worked out and toilets on the market today work well.
As Winston Churchill, a master orator, once said, “We shaped our toilets, and then our toilets shaped us.”
How We Selected
We headed to the internet to begin researching our selections. We wanted to be sure that the five plungers we tested were already popular with consumers. We didn’t want to waste our time testing products that didn’t already have good reviews.
Despite filtering out the unpopular models, we still found over 200 products that were well-liked, and we needed to get that number down considerably if we wanted to end up with only five.
We made the executive decision to keep the price of the plungers we tested below $25. Spending any more money than that just seemed crazy to us and we couldn’t imagine getting any better result than you could from a model that costs less than $25.
There were a few different styles within this price range, and we decided to test a variety of them. We figured it was best to know which worked best, whether it be the traditional design or a newly designed model.
Lastly, we consulted with the housekeeping manager at a local hotel as well as a master plumber to see what insight they could offer regarding which plunger style is best.
After pulling together the many pages of information we compiled from the above steps, we finally were able to choose our top five contenders for this guide.
How We Tested
At its most basic level, a toilet plunger needs to make a tight seal against a toilet bowl andbe able to push air into that sealed area to unclog a toilet.
Toilet plungers are designed with a rubber cup at the end of a long, straight (typically wooden) handle, but what we found is that not all rubber cups are made the same, nor will they give you the same results.
We simulated a toilet drain by attaching flexible piping to a sample (uninstalled) toilet. Then, with a bit of help from a plumber-friend, we got to work testing our top five contenders.
Naturally, the first type of clog we tackled was one made from a mass of wadded-up toilet paper – the most common culprit of a clogged toilet.
Another test we wanted to administer was the “seal” test. Of course, a good seal is paramount in freeing a clogged drain. We found that it took a few tries to get a good seal using one or two of the plungers we tested, but in the end, we managed to get it and unclog the drain.
What We Liked
- We liked that the OXO plunger uses a natural rubber product for their cup. Natural rubber is a safer product to have in your house and safer to have around the family.
- We liked that the Korky Beehive Style plunger is made in the USA and that it fits into both the old style as well as the new High Efficiently Toilets (HET).
What We Didn’t Like
- Although it worked wonders on our clogs, we didn’t like the blue color of the LDR Bellows-Style Plunger. We felt we needed to store it away when not in use because the brightness of the color looked out of place in our bathroom.
- Although the Neiko plunger created a tight seal with the ridges on its graduated cup, we didn’t like that those ridges were harder to clean than the smoother rubber cups.
After hours of research and testing, we feel confident in our results and are happy to be able to save you the time and energy you would have spent looking into all of this yourself. For example, did you know that wooden handles are a no-no? Yep. Wood is a porous material that can hold onto bacteria – which is definitely not something you want to have hanging around in the corner of your bathroom.
Be sure to read through the above guide to see what we liked and what we didn’t like when it came to five top models of toilet plungers. Save your energy for things on which it will be better spent…like getting your toilet unclogged!