Easy Ways to Clean and Sanitize a Plunger

Cleaning the plunger may not be your favorite chore, but these tips will at least make it feel easier (& less gross).

Published December 8, 2022
Woman unclogging sink with plunger in bathroom

Let's face it. When you have a toilet clog, your plunger goes where no human wants to go, and it solves of one of life's grossest issues. Which means that when you're done plunging, it's covered in germs and heaven knows what else. Learn how to clean your plunger the right way to keep germs at bay.

You'll Need One of These to Clean Your Plunger

Since you want those germs (and all the other unspeakable substances) to stay in the toilet, it's important to sanitize your plunger. Fortunately, it's not hard to do. If you have any of these sanitizing materials on hand, you can easily clean your plunger so it's ready to go for the next emergency. If you don't have any of them, then make haste to the store to get at least one, because you never know when the next toilet clog is coming.

How to Clean Your Plunger in the Toilet With Bleach

Bleach is your strongest and best bet for quickly disinfecting your plunger. The last thing you want to do right after clearing a clog is to take your plunger out of the toilet and drip, drip, drip it across the bathroom. Fortunately, there's a time and place for everything. For your used plunger, that time is right after the clog clears, and that place is in the bowl of the toilet. Here's how to do it while it's still in there.

  1. Put the plunger in the bottom of the toilet to block the flow.
  2. Flush to fill the toilet with some water.
  3. Add ⅓ cup of bleach.
  4. Swirl the plunger around in the toilet.
  5. Add a teaspoon of bleach to a cup of water.
  6. Lift the plunger and pour the water inside the plunging end.
  7. Put it back in the toilet water and swish.
  8. Allow it to sit for five minutes to soak off any particles.
  9. Move the plunger off the toilet drain.
  10. Flush several times to rinse off the plunger.

Give your toilet a good scrub while you are cleaning the plunger, since you already have the cleaner in there.

How to Clean It With White Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol

So, the "keep it in the toilet until it's clean" rule still applies if you're using rubbing alcohol or white vinegar.

  1. After you clear the clog, flush with the plunger over bottom of the toilet to block water flow and fill the toilet with water.
  2. Tip-up the plunger and pour white vinegar or rubbing alcohol into the bottom.
  3. Put it down into the toilet and pour enough rubbing alcohol or white vinegar to cover the plunger.
  4. Swirl it in the toilet.
  5. Allow it to sit for five minutes to soak off any germy particles.
  6. Flush to rinse out the white vinegar or rubbing alcohol.
  7. Put the plunger over the toilet drain and flush.
  8. Rinse in clean water.
  9. Flush again.

Using Disinfectant Spray on Your Plunger

Do you have some disinfectant spray on hand or some spray toilet bowl cleaner? Both work well for cleaning off your plunger.

  1. Put the handle of the plunger under the toilet seat to hold it in place over the bowl.
  2. Spray down the outside and inside of the plunger completely.
  3. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Swish it around in a clean, flushed toilet.
  5. Put it over the toilet drain and flush again.
  6. Swish a few times in the water.
Plumber using a pipe plunger to fix kitchen sinks

Dry Your Plunger

You have a sparkling clean new plunger. But you probably don't want to put your toilet water in the plunger holder, now do you? It's time to let it dry. You have a few options for drying.

  • Dry it over the toilet seat with the plunging part hanging over the toilet water.
  • Put it in a plastic bag and allow it to dry.
  • Dry it by hand with a clean microfiber cloth.

Clean and Disinfect the Plunger Handle

The bottom of your plunger is where most of the nasty happens. But water does tend to spray a little. So, it's important to think of the handle too. To clean it, simply wipe it down with rubbing alcohol, a sanitizing wipe, or hydrogen peroxide. Easy peasy.

Clean the Plunger Holder

No matter where you choose to store your plunger, you should always keep it in a plunger holder. This way, any of the germs that might have slipped through are contained within the plunger holder itself. However, this also means cleaning your plunger holder regularly. Do it right before you clean your sink or bathtub, and wear gloves to protect your hands.

  1. Rinse off the plunger holder in a bathtub or sink.
  2. Add a bit of dish soap to a scrubber and scrub away any grime.
  3. Rinse away all the soap.
  4. Spray the entire holder down with straight hydrogen peroxide.
  5. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Dry it off with a microfiber cloth.
  7. Proceed to clean your sink or bathtub.

Clean Your Plunger With Ease

Unless a clog happens, you don't typically think too much about a toilet plunger. But they have a powerful job and get super germy. So, it's important to clean them every time you use them. And you'll want to make sure to house them in a holder just to keep any remaining germs off your floor.

Easy Ways to Clean and Sanitize a Plunger