Ultimate Guide: How To Unclog A Sink

by John Griffith

No matter what sink in the house is clogged up, it’s surely a pain. We’ve all been there. You are washing your dishes, just moments into scrubbing that pan, you notice the water just doesn’t want to go down the drain. Great. So, what should you do now? Usually, the garbage disposal does the trick, however getting a clogged sink happens more often than you think. This is one of the most common issue that can arise in household drainages. This is caused due to soap residue, or left over foods. We’ve created the ultimate guide on how to unclog a sink without having to call the plumber. Check out all of our useful tips and tricks that will guarantee to get rid of this inconvenience as soon as possible.

Ultimate guide: how to unclog a sink

how to snake a drain person washing hands

How To Unclog A Sink?

There are plenty of ways you can choose to tackle a clogged up drain. The easiest may be calling a plumber, but if you want to try to tackle this problem on your own we understand. Knowing basic methods of unclogging  is crucial to any homeowner. Whether the bathroom, kitchen, or shower drain is giving you trouble, you can use all of these methods on each one.

Knowing basic methods of unclogging  is crucial

how to unclog a bathroom sink woman using plunger kitchen sink

Baking Soda And Vinegar Drain Cleaner

Let’s start with one of the most used hacks. This approach is a natural alternative to using chemical drain cleaners. And the best part is baking soda and vinegar are common household items that you’ll  likely already have in the kitchen.


  • 1 cup Baking Soda
  • 1 cup Vinegar
  • Hot Water


  1. Remove any standing water with a cup.
  2. Pour the baking soda into the drain, followed by an equal amount of white or apple cider vinegar.
  3. The solution will soon start to bubble. The fizzing action is what helps remove the hair and grime so effectively.
  4. When the bubbling subsides, put the stopper in and wait about fifteen minutes to an hour.
  5. Run the hot water.
  6. If the clog is still but the water is draining just slowly, repeat the process one more time.

This hack is one of the most popular

baking soda in bathroom sink

What Is The Fastest Way To Unclog a Sink?

If the baking soda and vinegar doesn’t do the job, try out some of these helpful methods.

Ultimate guide: how to unclog a sink

how to unclog kitchen sink cleaning the sink

Boiling Water

Yea, we know it sounds way too good and easy to be true. It’s surprising how well this works. Not only that, but it is also cheap. Give it a go before trying anything else. Clogs appear thanks to hair, food, grease, and soap getting trapped. This is for metal pipes and not any PVC pipes.


  • Water
  • Kettle or Pot


  1. Fill the kettle or pot with water and bring to a boil.
  2. While you’re waiting for the water to heat, remove as much standing water from the sink as you can, using a mug or small pot to bail out any water.
  3. Take the entire boiling water and pour it into the sink. Do this at three or four different stages. If it starts working, you will quickly find out.
  4. After that get the faucet running and see if the drain is working properly. If the water is still going down slow, you will need to do this at least a couple of more times.
  5. Always let the water cool before you go again. Remove any water left with a cup, container or jug.
  6. Repeat.
  7. If this isn’t working, move onto another method.

This method is not only easy, but it’s also the cheapest 

how to snake a drain green kettle

Garbage Disposal

If the boiling water trick doesn’t work, it’s time to check out the disposal. The problem with this method works only with sinks that do have a garbage disposal. However, with sinks that do have it, it’s more often than not, the main reason for a clog. Run the disposal with some hot water.

Check the garbage disposal

pipe drainer bowl type sink

If the disposal doesn’t turn on, it’s broken, if it is humming, it is probably jammed. If you cannot get it running, push the blades manually. Use an Allen wrench until there is barely any resistance. The garbage disposal should be turned off beforehand.

Overheated or dysfunctional disposals may not even turn on

how to fix a clogged sink garbage disposal


Well, now that we’ve established the disposal isn’t the problem, it’s time to turn to the bathroom plunger. There are different types of plumbers, so for working in sinks, showers, and tubs, we recommend using a cup or flat-bottomed plunger. Use a stopper or something to seal the other drain if the sink is a double type.


  • Plunger
  • Water
  • Stopper or Cloth


  1. Get the sink filled up with water. The water should be hot. Do this until it is halfway full. This should create a type of seal on the drain.
  2. Put the plunger on top of the drain. Start to pump. Make sure you are doing quick motions and many times.
  3. After that take away the plunger and wait. If the water isn’t draining then you need to repeat.

Use the cup plunger 

clogged sink sink plunger vs toilet plunger

Baking Soda and Salt

Other than the baking salt and vinegar method, you can also try this one. If you don’t have any vinegar at hand, salt will do the job just as well. All components in this method create a pretty aggressive chemical reaction.


  • 1 cup Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Salt
  • Boiling Water


  1. Mix the baking soda and the salt together.
  2. Pour the mixture in the drain.
  3. Let it sit for at least fifteen minutes up to several hours.
  4. Flush out the mixture with boiling water.
  5. You can repeat this process again if needed.
  6. Another effective combination is baking soda and salt. Mix 1/2 cup of each and pour the mixture into the drain.

Baking soda and salt will do the trick

natural drain cleaner himalayan salt

Plumbers Snake

A plumbers snake or sometimes also called an auger is a handy tool that can clear up stubborn clogs stuck further down the drainage system. If the clog is inside of the trap, this should do the job.


  • Plumber’s Snake
  • Warm Water


  1. Remove the drain topper if there is one.
  2. Extend the auger cable into the drain opening. When you feel it bump up against the clog, pull out about 12 inches more of the cable and tighten the setscrew on the auger canisters.
  3. Turn the crank handle of the snake clockwise. Apply moderate pressure on the cable. The cable end may get stuck on the clog or bends in the pipe. Do not push too rough.
  4. Turning the cable helps break up the clog or get the cable end past the bend.
  5. Extend more cable if required or until you feel you’ve worked through the clog.
  6. Pull the cable out of the pipe, pushing it back into the canister as you go. The cable may have a clog stuck to its end when it comes out of the drain.
  7. Repeat the process as needed. Do this is until the clog has cleared up.
  8. Flush with hot water from once the drain starts to flow.

Ultimate guide: how to unclog a sink 

how to unclog sink advanced snake device


If the clog has gone way beyond the drain, you’ll need to put in more elbow grease. But don’t worry it’s not impossible. It’s time to test the P-trap. A lot of waste gets stuck in there. It is the wiggly, elbow-shaped pipe that you see. Make sure to have goggles, towels, and gloves prepared as this is a messy method.


  • Bucket
  • Rag
  • Goggles
  • Gloves


  1. Put the bucket under the pipe. This will help catch anything that may fall.
  2. Now it’s time to unscrew the connectors. They hold together the curved pieces to the pipes.
  3. You will also find slip nuts on each end of the P-trap.
  4. After you opened it up, get rid of all the gunk.
  5. Put everything back together.
  6. Turn on the water. If it runs fine, then good job! The problem is gone.

This is called the P-trap because of it’s shape 

vinegar and baking soda drain cleaner p trap

Okay, so the clog is somewhere deeper. It’s time to try again. Go back down the the core of the pipe and follow these steps.


  • Bucket
  • Plumber’s Snake


  1. Unscrew the P-trap once again.
  2. After you have removed the p-trap, get the horizontal one that is connected to the system that is in the wall.
  3. With a hanger, or a plumber’s snake feel around and see if you can pull the blockage.
  4. Do this process over and over until everything is out.
  5. After the clog is done, put everything back together.
  6. Make sure to run hot water afterwards to flush the drain.

Ultimate guide: how to unclog a sink

kitchen sink clogged cleaning supplies under sink

Coat Hanger

Not everybody has access to a plumber’s snake. That is why you can use a coat hanger, however it should be a wire one. Get some pliers and straighten it. However, keep in mind that it won’t go as far down as a professional term. But it is still worth a shot. Insert the hanger in the drain and make a pull and push motion.

Straighten a wire coat hanger 

wire clothes hangers


If nothing else works, it may be time to call in the help of a professional. Find one online or ask around for a recommendation. Some home issues need more help than others, so don’t be afraid to search out someone who know the insides and outs of the plumbing systems.

Call a plumber if all else fails 

how to unclog shower drain professional plumbing expert

How To Prevent Clogged Drains?

Okay, so the drain is working again. Now what do we do? It’s very important you prevent any future clogs. Here is what you should avoid to dispose down the drain.

  • Fats and Grease
  • Oil
  • Meat
  • Egg shells
  • Gum
  • Coffee grounds
  • Bread, pasta, and rice
  • Paint
  • Paper towels
  • Stickers, fruit pits and peels
  • Food Wrappers
  • Pills

Avoid disposing harmful items down the drain

pipe drainer egg shells

Another tip is to not go overboard when loading the garbage disposal. Do not grind more than a cup of waste at one time. This especially includes the things we mentioned.

Another thing you can do is freeze a water and vinegar mixture in an ice cube tray. Use equal parts. Grind a cube, once a month, within the disposal. This can help get rid of any potential clogs from waste buildup.

Run hot water into the drain after every time you use the sink. This is great for your pipes and will keep everything clear.

Have a drain cover to catch any waste that can potentially go down ang clog the drain.

Freeze vinegar and water in an ice cube tray

baking soda and vinegar drain cleaner ice cubes

We hope you found our guide on how to unclog a sink helpful! With these tips and tricks you won’t need to worry when the inconvenience occurs. You know everything you need to in order to handle it quickly and smoothly!

Ultimate guide: how to unclog a sink

baking soda and vinegar drain cleaner white sink

John Griffith

John Griffith is a young, passionate journalist. Writing has been John’s hobby ever since he was a boy. He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful news portals over the course of his professional career but found his forever home at Archzine.