DIY fixing clogged drains
  • Category:
    Home Energy Savings
  • Published:
    July 14, 2017
  • Updated:
    March 26, 2021

How to Unclog a Sink Drain in the Kitchen and Elsewhere

At some point, you’ll likely find yourself trying to figure out how to unclog a drain. Your first instinct might be to call a plumber. But the solution to clogged drains is often a quick and fairly simple process that most people can manage on their own.

If you want to save some money on plumbing, handling your own drain cleaning is a great place to start. Here are some helpful tips to get your clogged sink drains working like new again.

6 easy ways to fix a clogged drain

  1. Add boiling water to your sink drains
  2. Use a plunger to unclog your sink
  3. Check your garbage disposal for any clogs
  4. Unclog drains with baking soda and vinegar
  5. Remove clogs with a drain snake
  6. Clean out any clogs in your sink’s P-trap

Preventing clogged drains in your home

Why keeping your sink drains clean is important

How to fix a clogged drain

6 easy ways to fix a clogged drain

Clogged drains are usually the result of a foreign object or debris getting stuck in a drain pipe, or built-up residue that chokes off the flow. The cause of a clog and the fix for it may vary depending on what kind of sink it is. For example, a kitchen sink clog might present different challenges than other sinks in the home because of the nature of what goes into the drain.

But wherever they are in the home, it’s important to fix clogged drains as soon as you find them. If the problem goes unfixed for too long, water can begin to back up. And no one wants to have to fix water damage. The more drain cleaning techniques you know, the quicker you can resolve the problem.

1. Pour boiling water down your drains.

One of the easier and more affordable ways to fix a clogged sink drain is with boiling water, so it should be one of the first things you try:

  1. Using a cup or container, remove as much standing water from the sink as possible.
  2. Pour an entire pot or kettle of boiling water directly into the drain.
  3. If needed, remove the standing water again, after it has cooled, and then pour salt down the drain before more boiling water. Let it sit before flushing again with hot water to clear.
  4. Repeat until the clog is cleared.

2. Use a plunger to remove debris.

It might take some patience and a little practice, but a plunger can be another cost-effective solution for fixing clogged sink drains:

  1. If you have a double-basin sink, cover the drain on the side that isn’t clogged (the pressure of plunging could cause water or debris to spray up the other drain).
  2. Add a couple inches of hot water to the clogged sink’s basin. This will allow you to create a seal between the plunger and the drain.
  3. Once you’ve got the plunger tightly sealed to the drain, start pumping up and down for a few seconds.
  4. Repeat this process until the water in the sink drains.

Although any plunger will likely do the trick, you may want to invest in a mini-plunger designed specifically for clogged sink drains.

3. Check your garbage disposal for any potential clogs.

If the hot water and plunger haven’t helped to remove your kitchen sink clog, the problem may be your garbage disposal, if you have one. Here’s how to check:

  1. With water running, turn on the garbage disposal. This should clear any debris that could be clogged in the unit.
  2. If the disposal isn’t working or begins to make a humming noise, there could be a bigger problem, such as a jam or broken machinery.
  3. You can fix a jam yourself, but it may be best to call in a professional for help.

Home appliance maintenance can be tricky, so when it comes to checking your garbage disposal, you’ll want to watch out for safety hazards and be careful not to damage the mechanism. For example, you should cut the electricity to your garbage disposal before making any repairs.

4. Unclog drains with baking soda and vinegar.

Often a sink clog can be remedied with drain cleaner, which is available at your local hardware or home improvement store. But you could also try a homemade drain cleaner, like vinegar and baking soda:

  1. Start by adding some dish soap and hot water to the clogged drain. Make sure no standing water remains.
  2. Next, pour 1 cup of baking soda into the drain. Use a funnel to avoid spillage if needed.
  3. Continue by adding 1 cup of white vinegar.
  4. Wait about 15 minutes and then flush the drain with another 2 cups of hot water.
  5. Repeat this process if necessary.

A variation on this technique is to combine baking soda with salt and pour it down the drain. This homemade drain cleaner would need to sit for several hours, though, and then be flushed with boiling water.

5. Purchase a drain snake.

A drain snake is a simple tool that can be used for drain cleaning. It’s a long, flexible metal cable with an auger, or drill, on the end for breaking up clogs. To use a drain snake:

  1. Begin by removing the trap from your drain.
  2. Feed the snake’s cable down the drain until it reaches the object causing the clog.
  3. Use the drain snake to break the clog apart and remove it from the drain.

You can purchase either an electric or hand-powered drain snake. Or you can use plastic clog removers, which are long and thin with little teeth on the sides to snag debris that may be built up. The best choice for you will depend on both your budget and your level of experience using plumbing tools. Or, in a pinch, you could also try using a straightened wire coat hanger instead.

6. Clean your sink’s P-trap.

Most sinks have a P-trap, a curve of the drainpipe that’s usually in the cabinet underneath the sink. To see if this is the source of your clog, you’ll want to:

  1. Place a small bucket underneath your drainpipe. This will help catch any water that may have settled in the pipe.
  2. Unfasten the P-trap from the drainpipe.
  3. Clean the interior of the pipe that surrounds the P-trap.
  4. Clean the P-trap itself and then position it back in place.
  5. If the clog is located well past the trap, you can use a drain snake to clear the unreachable areas.

6 ways to unclog a sink drain

Preventing clogged drains in your home

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the same applies when dealing with a clogged drain. Even if you’ve become a pro at using homemade drain cleaners, you’d much rather not have the problem at all. Luckily, there are several things you can do to avoid clogged drains:

  1. Properly dispose of grease and oil. Grease catches food particles and debris, which creates a blockage. That’s why it’s essential to take care when disposing of grease and oil in the sink. Find alternate methods when possible, and when you must dump small amounts of grease down the drain, always run hot water.
  2. Keep coffee grounds and leftover food out of your drains. Though a small scrap here and there may seem harmless, it’s best to keep all leftover food out of your drains. This is especially true for coffee grounds, since they clump together in water and can build up in your drains over time.
  3. Maintain your garbage disposal. Keep your garbage disposal clean and always run water when using it. In a sink without a disposal, use a strainer to catch pieces of food and debris to place in the trash.
  4. Use drain covers when possible. In the bathroom, use a drain cover or strainer to catch as much hair as possible. Clean the visible areas of drain openings frequently when you see debris has begun to collect. You can also purchase a low-flow faucet to help save energy in the bathroom.
  5. Clean your sink drains routinely. Even something as simple as pouring a few cups of hot water in your drains each week can help prevent blockages. You can also make deep-cleaning your drains part of your spring-cleaning routine.

The importance of keeping your sink drains clean

Most of us can’t fix every problem that arises in our homes — like flooding from corroded water pipes or a broken water main — but even learning how to regularly unclog a drain with baking soda can save some time and money on more extensive measures and expensive plumber fees. What’s more, standing water leaves deposits of scum on the sides of the sink, which requires more water to clean, which doesn’t fully drain, leaving fresh deposits, and the cycle continues. When you fix clogged drains in your home, it helps reduce your overall water consumption and may lower your bill.

There are also environmental benefits of regular drain cleaning. Less water consumption means less energy used in water treatment, so if your power comes from fossil fuels, that’s less carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Plus, using DIY cleaning supplies that are environmentally friendly helps not only our planet but also your plumbing, which can be harmed by powerful chemical drain cleaners. Many tasks can be done in an eco-friendly way — there are even natural remedies for pest control!

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Comments ( 34 )

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Carolina Arey - 3/18/2021

A clogged sink is a common household problem, but as such, it can usually be fixed with common household products and methods. Thank you for the very informative article.

Plumber Fremont - 12/23/2020

Awesome article. Great information regarding how to fix clogged drains.

Charli Allcot - 8/21/2020

Great post. Excellent tips and guides guys. Really helpful to improvise the business. Keep posting. Waiting for more of yours. I have enjoyed reading your article about plumbing service.

Preet Judge - 7/1/2020

At the point when your funnels and depletes are working accurately, you presumably don’t mull over your pipes. Nonetheless, should something turn out badly, at that point everything you can consider is getting the issue fixed? That is when bringing in experts who offer an assortment of plumbing administrations can be valuable, and discovering clogged drain doesn’t need to be hard.

joshua wienholt - 6/26/2020

Your blog is amazing it gives so much ideas on how to clean our shower drainage all on our own.

Doctor Drain Melbourne - 6/24/2020

Nice Article…Very interesting to read this article. I have learned some new information. Thanks for sharing.

Paul - 3/26/2020

Excellent article. Thanks for the tips.

Paul - 3/26/2020

Thank you for the article. Helps a lot!

George Thomson - 2/3/2020

Thanks for posting

brody - 1/7/2020

good info.

Martin Johnson - 8/13/2019

I got frustrated. So I plugged the side without the garbage disposal and held it down very tight. A ran the water on the disposal side and turned on the disposal. The pressure from the disposal moved the clog. I had to us all my weight to keep the water from shooting up. There was a lot of pressure, I was afraid it was going to bust a pipe, but it didnt.

Charlie Bini - 6/13/2019

I am really enjoying reading your well written article. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work.

    Constellation - 7/10/2019

    Hi Charlie – We’re glad to hear you’ve found our blogs interesting. We hope you will keep checking back with us to get more useful information on saving energy. Thank you!

Constellation - 6/5/2019

Thank you! We’re happy to hear you found our DIY post on how to fix a clogged drain useful and was able to answer your questions! Check out our other DIY posts at:
https://blog.constellation.com/2017/08/15/home-pest-control/
https://blog.constellation.com/2017/07/28/foundation-water-damage/
https://blog.constellation.com/2017/08/11/diy-hvac-maintenance/

Gillies Group - 4/25/2019

It amazing to know, we can remove water stain using veniger and backing soda. Thanks for this peace of information.

airbnb clean - 2/19/2019

Thank you fo sharing this content. I really like it.

    Constellation Community Team - 3/8/2019

    Hey there, we’re glad to hear!

Elite cooker - 12/19/2018

very informative post and unclog shower drain is very important part of this awesome content. I have taken some clusial tips from here. Will read you again. Thanks mate

    Constellation Community Team - 1/23/2019

    Hi Elite Cooker, that’s great to hear. Thanks for checking out our blog!

Jack Taylor - 12/11/2018

Yes, drain snake tool can be very helpful to remove the drain. You have explained well that how one can fix a drainage problem by using different techniques. We at DRAINFIXERS use it extensively.

    Constellation Community Team - 1/23/2019

    Hi Jack, that’s great to hear! Thanks for visiting.

serviceloole - 11/28/2018

Is using domestic vinegar and salt solution effective to open the sewer pipe?

    Constellation Community Team - 1/23/2019

    Hi Serviceloole, some sources say that using salt can replace baking soda when mixing together with vinegar for a drain solution. Always err on the side of caution!

Peter Wood - 10/2/2018

Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

    Constellation Community Team - 11/7/2018

    Hi Peter, thanks so much!

olivia fernando - 9/27/2018

Thank you for posting such good article. Keep posting and keep up the good work!

    Constellation Community Team - 11/6/2018

    Hi Olivia, thanks so much.

San Jose Plumber Co - 6/28/2018

Because of the general nature and specificity with the field of plumbing an average
homeowner cannot know everything that must maintain or repair your
entire plumbing system on their property. Local plumbers in Cottage Lake WA will advise you
all that you should know about the cloudy water within the tub.

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    Constellation Community Team - 7/16/2018

    San Jose Plumber Co,
    We appreciate your feedback! Constellation services 17 states across the United States and Washington, D.C,, so we do not refer out plumbers to our readers. We hope that the knowledge our readers get from our articles can help them choose the best plumber in their region when they need to hire a professional!

craig bonner - 7/27/2017

Just remember to always use safety gloves goggles

    Constellation Community Team - 11/1/2017

    Excellent point. Thank you, Craig!

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