How To

How to unclog a sink the easy way

By Luke Carlino

Updated: June 19th, 2023

There is nothing worse than the panic-inducing feeling of a clogged sink...

An unavoidable fact about life is that sinks will get clogged. Be it the kitchen or the bathroom, your sink will likely give you trouble one day, and it will require more than just the old school plunger to fix. For this reason, learning how to unclog a sink can be a helpful skill.

In some cases, a bathroom clog will be a little harder to deal with when compared to the kitchen. This can be due to soap scum, hair and other grime that goes down the bathroom drain.

There are plenty of methods that you can discover when learning how to unclog a sink. Some are easier than others, and some will handle the more severe bathroom clog better than others. To help, let’s look at our selections for the best most effective methods, so you never find yourself with an overflowing sink again!

How to unclog a sink with natural methods

The following drain unclogging techniques avoid abrasive, poisonous chemicals and use things you likely already have around the home. You can always opt for a supermarket drain cleaner, but if you want to avoid anything too extreme going down the drain, here are the top five ways to unclog a sink naturally:

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar

This classic method is tried and proven when it comes to unclogging drains. Just mix 1/3 of a cup of baking soda in with 1/3 cup of vinegar and wait for it to fizz (which should be immediate). Promptly pour it down the drain and let the fizzing action remove whatever is causing the blockage. Allow the mixture to sit for about an hour, then give it a flush with hot water.

2. Baking Soda and Salt

A slight tweak on the previous combination but just as effective; baking soda and salt. For this method, you just mix 1/2 cup of baking soda and salt then pour it down the drain. Let it do its thing for roughly fifteen minutes then follow it with boiling water. This causes a chemical reaction that should be able to unblock some of the toughest stoppages.

3. Just Boiling Water

Believe it or not, some clogs just need boiling water. This can particularly be the case in bathroom sinks that have a blockage caused by soap scum. If you find that there is still a slow amount of drainage in your sink, this will likely rectify the issue. Fill a kettle with boiling water and pour it into the drain about three or four times over. This will solve this issue if your blockage isn’t too severe.

4. Wet and Dry Vacuum

If you have access to a wet and dry shop vacuum, it will be very effective against stubborn clogs. Create a seal for the hose so you can suction out the blockage. To do this, use the top of a plastic soda bottle or the head of your plunger. Set the vacuum to the highest setting and flick the on the switch. The powerful suction should dislodge the plumbing issue relatively quickly.

5. A Wire Hanger

The least preferable natural option involves a wire hanger. Useful in cases where the previous suggestions above have not worked, sending a wire hanger down the drain should eliminate the clog if it isn’t too far down your pipe. Just be careful not to damage your piping with the hanger as this can cause a bigger, more expensive to rectify the problem.

A cat staring at a tap
Kazuky Akayashi

What to do if the clog remains?

If the natural unclogging methods above do not work, you may have to remove the piping under the sink to clear out the blockage. It’s not as hard as it may seem, however; simply follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the water and position a bucket under the sink to capture any excess water
  2. Get under the sink and locate the stopper. Squeeze the spring clip so you can remove the pivot rod which should allow the stopper to pop up and out of your sink
  3. Once you have loosened the stopper, you should be able to pull it out of the drain. Clean the dirt, hair, and debris with a different sink or water source
  4. At this point, you can use a wire hanger and to hook into the drain and feel for the blockage. twist and move the hanger to get rid of as much of the gunk as you can
  5. You can also use an old toothbrush to clean the interior of the pipe; you may see a fair bit of gunk coming out of the opening where the pivot rod was removed
  6. If the clog seems like it might be located in the P-bend of the pipe, you can unscrew the P-bend section to target the clog
  7. Put everything back together and run hot water down the drain to see if everything is fixed. 

Once you have reassembled the pipe, make sure there are no leaks and that you have tightened everything correctly. This activity is also a good opportunity to keep an eye out for any corrosion on your pipes. If you spot some, you may need some replacement parts to avoid costly problems down the track.

Cleaning the trap

The u-shaped pipe underneath your sink is called “the trap,” and it can often be the section that gets clogged. You can minimise the risk of a clog with some preventative cleaning with a bucket and a plumber’s wrench.

Just place the bucket underneath the trap to catch the water, then loosen the slip nuts which sit at both ends of the pipe. Take the pipe out and empty the water and gunk within it into the bucket.

Much like above, use a wire or old toothbrush to clean the pipe to remove the debris. Run some water through it and then put it back together. By doing this every now and then, you’ll avoid a more severe blockage that may strike at a very inconvenient time.

Woman standing with sink
Evopure CBD

Frequently asked questions

How do you fix a slow draining bathroom sink?

One of the simplest ways to fix a slow leaking sink in a bathroom is with boiling hot water. This easy method is often quite effective in cases where some liquid is still working its way through the clog. Fill a kettle with boiling water and pour it into the drain about three or four times over. 

If this does not work, try mixing 1/3 of a cup of baking soda in with 1/3 cup of vinegar and pouring it down the drain. Let it sit for about an hour, then give it a flush with hot water to see if this rectifies the issue.

How do you unclog a sink naturally?

A natural way to get rid of a clog in your sink is with baking soda and salt. Just mix 1/2 cup of baking soda and salt then pour it down the drain. Allow it to sit for roughly fifteen minutes, then follow it with boiling water. This should be able to unblock some most stoppages. If it does not work, repeat the process with mix 1/3 of a cup of baking soda in with 1/3 cup of vinegar. 

How do you unclog a double kitchen sink?

If you are trying to unclog a double sink drain, you’ll need to target the one drain that both sinks flow into. Each sink has it’s own drain and a shared draining pipe system. If clogged, the drain prevents water from leaving one or both sinks. 

Plug one sink then use a plunger on the other which should cause enough pressure into the one drain to and unclog the sink. If that does not work, mix 1/3 of a cup of baking soda in with 1/3 cup of vinegar and let it sit in the drain for an hour then flush it with boiling hot water. 

Avoiding an uncomfortable situation with a sink that doesn’t drain

Learning how to unclog a drain means you have a quick number of solutions to solve a stressful problem – particularly when you need to get ready to go somewhere and can’t use your bathroom, or your kitchen sink is clogged preventing you from preparing dinner!

If you have tried the simple steps above and you are still facing a sink that won’t drain, it may be time to call in an expert. There are plenty of Taskers who are highly skilled in fixing all kinds of plumbing issues. You can contact an overall general tradesperson, or find someone who specialises in kitchen renovations. You can also find a range of skilled cleaners to help you with whatever mess your plumbing issues may have caused.

If fixing your drain has you wondering what other kitchen or bathroom improvements you can handle yourself, read some of our other helpful articles. We can give you a range of white-design kitchen ideas, some ways to achieve a black kitchen look, and a selection of modern bathroom vanity ideas.

Time spent learning new skills and improving your home is never wasted, so get reading and get to work!


Luke Carlino

Luke Carlino is a freelance copywriter, social media manager and content creator based in Melbourne. He works for a range of clients across a plethora of industries and is also an accomplished musician with solo and band works online.

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