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8 Fast Ways to Unclog a Kitchen Sink

Has your kitchen sink become clogged? Learn the different methods you can use to clear your drain and how you can prevent blockages like this from happening again in the future.

Bright Side has collected 8 simple and safe ways to unclog a kitchen sink at home. Read and save them for emergencies.

You should assess the situation before starting.

Calling a professional plumber can take too much time and money. Sometimes the situation with the clogged sink can be fixed with some quick methods you can try yourself. But before you start pulling all the products from your drawers, let’s first take a look and assess the severity of the problem.

You can tell your drain is getting clogged because the water flow gets slow or stops altogether. If it’s the first time you are unclogging a sink drain, it may take you some time to solve the issue at hand, but in the end, you’ll learn so much that in future repairs, you’ll know just what needs to be done.

Avoid trying to unclog your drain with products like bleach and Coca-Cola. Bleach is a product that can damage your health, your family’s health, and even that of your pets. If you use bleach first to try to solve the issue and it doesn’t work, it is probable that you will have to pour something else into your drain.

You should always be very careful with mixing ingredients since sometimes that mix can cause toxic gas that can severely damage the health of your lungs. On the other hand, using Coca-Cola to solve this problem can be done safely, but this liquid can make the drain develop a sticky surface.

In this case, that same stickiness can cause another blockage, as things might get stuck in there, and that is exactly what we’re trying to avoid. This is why some professionals suggest only using this method for big clogs.

If your kitchen sink is full of water due to the clogged drain, try to remove it by using a cup since draining it is not possible in this scenario. It’s done in order to see more clearly into the sink, but this won’t really unclog the drain. When you finish removing all the water, you should also remove any residue that is sitting on the surface of the sink.

In some cases, removing the waste at the surface is all you need to do to fix the issue, but other times, you might need to make additional steps for results. Remember, if you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink, do not put your fingers near the blades, safety should always come first.

1. Remove a greasy clog with baking soda, salt, and vinegar.

Let’s start with a strong solution for those who don’t start fixing something until it becomes too serious for lighter measures. First of all, the magic starts with pouring hot water down the drain. It’ll help to soften a clog and break it up a little. Who would have thought that with simple ingredients you might already have in your kitchen, you can unclog the drain?

  • Take 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of salt. Mix them and pour them into the drain hole.
  • Heat a cup of vinegar until it’s just ready to boil and pour it on the other ingredients.
  • Quickly cover the drain so as not to let the resulting foam out.
  • Wait 15 to 30 minutes, then finish with another portion of hot water.

2. Eliminate the problem with salt and boiling water.

If the clog isn’t serious or just started to form, you can opt for lighter measures. Salt will clean the pipe from the inside, removing bacteria and unpleasant odors at the same time. Because its effect is pretty mild, you’ll probably need to repeat the process several times — especially if the clog is bigger than you expected.

  • Take half a cup of salt and pour it into the drain hole.
  • Take a kettle of boiling water and pour it over the salt. Be careful to not let the hot water splash back on your hands or body.
  • Turn on the hot tap water and rinse the drain hole with more water.
  • Repeat if you feel it’s necessary.

3. Use vinegar and baking soda.

Vinegar and baking soda are the world’s classics when it comes to drain clog removal. This is a fast and simple solution you might not even have to spend a penny on because you most likely already have these ingredients in your kitchen.

  • Pour some boiling water down the drain. The more the better — you can pour a whole kettle in there.
  • Then add 0.5 — 1 cup of baking soda and leave it for a few minutes.
  • Now mix boiling water and vinegar in 1:1 proportion and pour it on top of the baking soda.
  • Cover the drain to make the mixture work its magic inside. You can use a plug, a plunger, or anything else — just don’t let it come out.
  • To top it off, pour another cup of hot water inside. Perfect!

You can even use this mixture to prevent future clogs in your drain. Apply the solution every time you think it necessary to refreshen your drain system. Vinegar can also help to kill bacteria that are living in your sink, which is causing unpleasant smells in your house.

4. Attack the enemy with caustic soda.

Sodium hydroxide is a magic chemical that has the ability to turn some hard substances into liquids. It’s used as an ingredient in anti-clog remedies, making them especially powerful, because it can even break up hair and other debris. To make use of this magic ingredient:

  • Take a bucket and fill it with 3 liters of cold water.
  • Add 750 ml of liquid caustic soda to the bucket and mix thoroughly (don’t touch it with your bare hands!)
  • Wait until water starts fizzing and heating up because of the chemical reaction.
  • Pour the mixture down the drain and leave it for about 20 minutes.
  • When the time’s up, flush it with a kettle of boiling water.

5. Clean the P-trap.

If chemical reactions don’t work, you may need to do some physical removal. P-trap is a curved pipe under your sink which can collect grease and small debris. Due to its form, it becomes the cause of most of the clogs in your kitchen.

  • First of all, you need to get ready for the act of cleaning it out, because it’s gonna be messy. Remove water from the sink, because it’ll go down when you take the trap off. Now put a bucket right under the trap, grab some towels so you have them on hand, and then start.
  • The P-trap is attached to 2 pipes with nuts you’ll need to loosen to take off.
  • Once you’ve removed the trap, you can clean it. It’ll most likely be full of food pieces, grease, and other debris. Clean the hard debris out using your hands and a bottle brush, then wash with hot water to dissolve any other possible grease.
  • Once you’re done, return the P-trap to where it belongs.

Some traps have a plug you can use for cleaning, without removing the trap itself, but it’s always better to take it off and rinse with hot water.

6. Use a drain snake.

Have you put the P-trap back in place yet? No? Then wait a minute. This is the perfect moment to use a drain snake. Since the P-trap is already clean and clear, you need to unscrew the trap arm.

  • Now take a snake and start inserting it in the pipe that goes into the wall, in rotating movements. If you feel there’s an obstacle, try to move on — this might be not the clog but a pipe corner.
  • If the snake bumped into something and won’t go further easily, this must be the clog. Continue rotating the snake to break the clog up and get through it.
  • After that, pull it back. Clean the snake and try again.
  • Once there’s no clog anymore, return the P-trap back and turn on the hot water to clean the pipes.

7. Destroy your enemy with a wire hanger.

hanger is basically a method that replaces a drain snake if you don’t have one or if your clog isn’t that far down. This method is very easy and cheap — let’s just hope you have some wire hangers lying around in your home.

  • Take a wire hanger and pliers.
  • Untwist the hanger and straighten it with your hands and the pliers.
  • Use the pliers to make a sort of handle at the end — you’ll need to rotate your handmade snake.

That’s it! Now you can use it as a regular drain snake.

8. Blow the clog out.

This is probably the most surprising point on our list, but it’s actually pretty similar to the previous one. Time for the heavy artillery! An important note to remember: you can’t do this with every vacuum cleaner — only with a wet & dry vac. Please, also remember you may need help with the switch control, so don’t do it alone.

  • Prepare rugs and towels, as well as a bucket, to cover and clean the area, because you might have splashes.
  • Insert the hose into the drain hole and attach the other end to the vac to suck in the air. It’s recommended to get a cup, like on a plunger, to create a seal with the drain. You can either buy it or DIY from an actual plunger cup.
  • Switch the vacuum cleaner on and listen to the sound; if the clog is there, it’ll be different from when the machine’s sucking just the air alone.
  • Vacuum it until the sound changes, which means you unclogged it. If it’s taking too much time, switch the vacuum off and wait a few minutes. Otherwise, you might damage the pipes or the machine.
  • If the clog won’t go, try to imitate the plunger movements with the hose. But be careful! You don’t want to crack the pipes.
  • Once the clog is gone, switch the vac off, carefully take out the hose and flush some hot water down the drain.
  • You’re amazing!

Remember that this way should be used only if the other methods didn’t help. If you’ve tried any chemical treatments, wait at least 8 hours before giving the vacuum a try.

9. Call a professional plumber.

If all of the different methods we listed here fail, don’t be discouraged. Calling a professional is always a great choice if there’s something that exceeds our knowledge and abilities. This option won’t be as cheap as the others, but you can make sure the problem is fixed correctly.

Try to ask for referrals when looking for a good plumber, as not everyone is a professional in their field. This way, you will also avoid further headaches.

BONUS: how your sink gets clogged, and how you can prevent it

When we’re talking about the kitchen sink, a common cause of blockage can be food residue from our meals. This is exactly why it might be better to compost or throw away any waste instead of placing dishes with residue on them in the sink.

Some of the foods that can cause a clear blockage inside the drain are meats, potatoes, pasta, high-fiber foods, etc. Besides food, other common things that cause clogs in sinks are long hairs, fabric, towels, plastic bottle tops, etc.

All the sinks in our house are in danger of becoming clogged, but everything depends on our habits and our will to change them.

  • There are some easy ways we can prevent future clogs, like, for example, throwing all the waste in a bin and not in the sink before washing the dishes.
  • Another great idea is to buy a sink strainer since this device won’t unclog a drain but can prevent food residue from falling into the plumbing. When you finish doing the dishes, just remember to clean them by removing any debris from. If you leave the sink dirty for too long, the water flow to the drain might decrease.
  • When it comes to the oil we use for cooking and grease from our meals, it’s best to let them dry and dispose of them in a bin. It is easy for this type of waste to form a clog and it can contaminate water and soil very badly. The best thing you can do is have a container specifically for oil and recycle it.

    You can do this yourself or you can take it to a special place that accepts kitchen oil to recycle. It might come as a surprise, but you can convert kitchen oil into biodiesel and soap. But if you don’t have the time or the energy to do that, you can also look for a restaurant that will let you donate your oil. They probably sell their used kitchen oil to companies that create soap and biodiesel with it.

Is this a common problem at your house? How do you cope with it? Do you prefer professional help or deal with it on your own? Which methods do you usually use? Please, share your experience in the comments!

Please note: This article was updated in October 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
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