A blocked sink can be a considerable inconvenience. Whether it’s in your bathroom or kitchen, blocked sinks can prevent you from completing everyday tasks. But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to unblock a sink 7, to be exact! In this article, we will outline each of these methods and provide tips on preventing the annoyance of slow draining water in the first place.
The most common challenge when trying to clear a blocked sink is figuring out how to do it. This article provides clear instructions on how to unblock a bathroom or kitchen sink using seven different methods. If you are still struggling after trying these methods, don’t worry – we have some additional tips for you!
Knowing how to unblock a kitchen or bathroom sink is essential, especially if you live in a household with multiple people. A blocked sink can be a real inconvenience and can even cause damage to your plumbing or water damage to your property if it’s not fixed quickly.
You might want to use some of these methods as part of your regular cleaning routine or deep clean
Why is my kitchen / bathroom sink blocked or draining slowly?
There are several reasons why your sink might be blocked or draining slowly.
If your kitchen sink is blocked, it is most likely because of food waste that has been washed down the sink drain and becomes caught in the U-bend. There might also be foreign objects such as cocktail sticks and bits of plastic that have been accidentally dropped down the plughole and lodged. Oil, grease and fat washed down the sink can also cause problems as it solidifies and sticks to the sides of the pipes, gradually narrowing them until they become blocked.
If your bathroom sink is blocked, it is most likely because of hair and soap scum, which has built up over time and caused a blockage. There might also be foreign objects such as Q tips or possibly even jewellery that have been accidentally dropped down the plughole and lodged in the pipes.
How to use a hair grabber drain snake to unblock a bathroom sink
If your bathroom sinks are blocked, a hair grabber drain snake is one of the quickest and easiest ways to clear it. This tool is specifically designed to remove hair from drains which is the most likely cause of a blockage, especially if someone in the household has long hair.
To use a hair grabber drain snake, start by removing the plug/drain stopper from the sink. Then, insert the hair grabber drain snake into the plughole and push it down until you feel resistance. Move the drain snake about and twist it if you can to ensure it catches as much hair as possible. Once you feel that the hair has been loosened, pull the drain snake out of the plughole and remove the hair. You might need to repeat this process a few times to remove the blockage completely. This could be all you need to do to unblock your bathroom sink. Next, use a sanitising spray and cloth to wipe away any gunk which might have come up with the hair and ended up in the sink basin.
Run hot water down the sink to wash away any loosened material and residue left in the pipes and test that the sink is now unblocked.
If you do not have a drain snake and are in a pinch, you could try using a straightened wire coat hanger. Use a pair of pliers to bend 1 cm from the very end of the straightened wire coat hanger back on itself to form a hook. With this improvised tool in hand, follow the instructions in the above methods.
How to use a plunger to unblock a sink
If your sink is still blocked after using a hair grabber drain snake, you might need to try plunging the sink. Plunging is a standard sink unblocker method which involves using a plunger to create suction and pressure in the pipes and push the blockage down the drain.
The overflow is not your friend when plunging a sink
Plunging forces air and water under pressure into the pipes to dislodge accumulated material. The pressure you are trying to create will always take the easy option and come out via the first available outlet, which is often the overflow. If you are trying to unblock a double sink, you will also have to deal with the second plughole and possibly another overflow.
To allow this method to work properly, it is essential to block off all other escape routes for the pressure you’re about to create. Of course, this is sometimes easier said than done, but we will list several methods to try.
Stuff an old rag into the overflow opening. Jam it tightly to make a good seal and keep it in place.
Clean around the overflow and remove any oil so the duct tape can adhere properly and provide an airtight seal.
This only really works with a brand new sheet of blue tack, but you can place it over the overflow hole, and if you hold it in place whilst plunging, it will create a good seal. The advantage of blue tack is that it will not leave any mess or residue.
Extra pair of hands
If someone can assist you by placing their hand firmly over the covered overflow to keep your block in place, you will find the next steps much more manageable.
Now that your sink is prepared for plunging, it is time to start the process. First, position the plunger over the plughole, ensuring a good, ideally airtight seal. Next, run some water into the sink to a depth of maybe 2 cm.
Now it’s time to start plunging! Push and pull the plunger up and down with a firm but steady rhythm, ensuring there is always suction on the plunger. You should start to feel the blockage loosening after a few seconds.
Once the blockage has loosened, continue plunging for another 30 seconds to ensure that everything is flushed through the pipes. You might need to run some more water into the sink as it may have all drained away.
After 30 seconds, remove the plunger and clean away any nasty lumps which have come back up.
Run some boiling water down the drain to flush away any residue that might be left in the pipes and test that your sink is now unblocked.
Clean the sink with a sanitising spray and a cloth
How to use baking soda and vinegar to unblock a sink
This method also works by creating pressure in the pipes, but instead of using a plunger, you use a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar. The advantages of this method are that it is less likely to splash dirty water back up at you, and your hands will be free to keep any overflow covers in place.
You will need:
- 1 cup baking soda / baking powder / bicarbonate of soda
- 1 cup of warm white vinegar
Having plugged the overflow and/or additional sink plugs, pour the baking soda / baking powder / bicarbonate of soda into the drain. Next, pour the white vinegar into the drain and quickly plug the sink so no gasses or liquid can escape.
The chemical reaction between these two substances will create a lot of foaming and fizzing as the gas is produced, and it is the gas pressure which is doing the work, so you must have the sink plugged.
Leave the mixture to work for around 10 minutes, and then remove the plug and let hot water run through the drain. You can repeat this process if your sink is still blocked or draining too slowly.
How to use bleach to unblock a sink
When cleaning a bathroom, especially with cleaning chemicals and bleach, you should wear rubber gloves and be sure to open a window and/or turn on the extractor fan to ventilate the space.
You should not use bleach if there could be residue from any other cleaning chemical or vinegar in the sink or pipes as it can react and release toxic fumes.
If your waste is connected to a septic tank, you must adhere to any restrictions or limitations on what you can put down the sink, as bleach will kill the good bacteria in your septic tank.
This method only works if the sink has drained, and you can pour the bleach into the drain opening.
You will need:
- 1 cup of bleach
- A pair of rubber gloves
Start by pouring the bleach into the drain and leaving it to sit for around 10 minutes. This will give it time to work on the blockage.
After 10 minutes have passed, put on your rubber gloves and eye protection and slowly pour boiling water down the drain. The boiling water will help to loosen the blockage and flush it away.
You can let hot water run for a few minutes to ensure that all of the bleach is flushed away too.
How to use soda crystals (caustic soda/lye) to unblock a sink
Soda Crystals are also called Caustic Soda; as the name implies, is a nasty chemical.
You should always wear rubber gloves and eye protection when dealing with this chemical.
If you get any splashes on any part of your body, you should immediately stop what you are doing, rinse the affected area with lots of running water and consult the packaging for further advice.
This extreme method should only be used as a last resort. Soda crystals are very corrosive and can cause serious damage to your skin and eyes. Frankly, it is nasty stuff, so you must take extreme caution when using it.
If your waste is connected to a septic tank, you must adhere to any restrictions or limitations on what you can put down the sink, as soda crystals will kill the good bacteria in your septic tank.
This method only works if the sink has drained, and you can pour the crystals into the drain opening.
You will need:
- ½ cup of soda crystals
- A pair of rubber gloves
- Eye protection (goggles or a face mask)
Firstly, make sure that your sink is empty and clean. Next, put on your rubber gloves and eye protection. Slowly pour the soda crystals into the drain, making sure not to splash any on yourself.
You should be very careful as soda crystals will react with water and get hot, which might cause it to fizz and spit.
Leave the soda crystals to work for around 10 minutes before slowly and cautiously pouring hot or near-boiling water down the drain.
The hot water will help to loosen the blockage and flush it away.
Let the hot water run for a few minutes to ensure that all of the soda crystals are flushed away too.
How to use a drain auger to unblock a sink
A drain auger, also known as a plumbers’ snake, is a long, flexible rod with a spiral of wire at the end. It is designed to push through blockages and break them up.
You will need:
- A drain auger
- Gloves (ideally substantial ones, not thin, single-use gloves)
There are different drain auger designs, some are very basic and really only comprise the snake wire. Slightly more expensive ones have a storage compartment for the wire; the next stage is to have a cordless drill attachment for spinning the wire.
We will describe how to use a manual auger with a storage compartment such as the Topec 6 in 1 Snake Drain Auger
Through the plughole
Put on your gloves.
Remove the plug from the sink.
Insert the spiral wire end of the auger into the drain. It will probably be necessary to insert the single strand at the tip of the auger wire to get it past the waste grate (the brass or chrome plate or bars that stop hair and larger items from entering the waste pipe). Once the single strand is inserted, slowly turn the handle clockwise to feed the rest of the auger wire through the grate.
With the fatter parts of the auger wire through the grate, extend about 15 cm of auger wire from the front of the auger. To do this, you will need to undo the locking thumb screw slightly, pull the auger wire out, and re-tighten the locking thumb screw.
Now, turn the main handle at the back again to rotate the auger wire whilst gently but firmly pushing the wire into the drain. The auger wire should dislodge any lumps as well as collect accumulated hair. As you push and rotate the handle, it will find its way into the u bend and beyond. When the front of the auger reaches the drain entrance, you need to extend another 15cm of auger wire, so you should stop, loosen the thumb screw, pull out the wire, retighten the thumb screw and continue turning and gently pushing the wire into the drain.
If you meet any resistance, then simply rotate the auger handle clockwise and anti-clockwise as well as push and pull to work the wire through the blockage.
Keep going until you have fed all of the auger wire into the drain or until you feel the blockage has been cleared to your satisfaction.
You now need to retract the auger wire. The process is very similar to how you inserted the wire – but this time, you gently pull the wire out instead of pushing it in. You should spin the handle as you pull it out as the more you spin it, the more it will rub against the inside of the pipework and dislodge gunk and gunge. Each time you have 20+ cm or so of auger wire free, push that wire back into the auger storage, re-tighten the thumb screw, and continue spinning and pulling back out.
When the end of the auger wire arrives back at the grate, you might need to turn the handle anti-clockwise so that the thread of the auger wire allows it to come out easily.
You should run plenty of hot water through the drain to flush away any debris that has been dislodged.
If the drain is still blocked, repeat the process until it is clear.
You should clean the auger wire after each use to prevent the build-up of bacteria and germs.
To do this, soak the auger wire in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water for at least 30 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly with hot water and allow to air dry. Remove hair and anything else that has been caught in the wire.
How to remove and clean the u bend
If all of these methods have failed, you might need to get your hands dirty and remove and clean the u bend. Check out our guide.
What dissolves a blocked sink?
A few household items can be used to unblock a sink, such as boiling water, baking soda, white vinegar, and salt. When people have a slow-running or clogged sink, boiling water is usually the first thing they try. The hot water helps to break down any grease or soap that might be causing the blockage.
Baking soda and white vinegar is another effective way to unblock a sink. The baking soda will react with the vinegar and create a foaming action that can help to break up the blockage.
Bleach can also be used to unblock a sink, but it should be used with caution as it can be corrosive.
How do you unblock a sink naturally?
There are a few natural ways to unblock a sink, such as using boiling water, baking soda and vinegar, or salt. When people have a slow-running or clogged sink, boiling water is usually the first thing they try. The hot water helps to break down any grease or soap that might be causing the blockage.
Baking soda and vinegar is another effective way to unblock a sink. The baking soda will react with the vinegar and create a foaming action that can help to break up the blockage.
Why is my bathroom sink not draining?
There are a few reasons your sink might not drain properly. The most common reason is that there is a build-up of hair and soap scum in the drain. This can cause the drain to become clogged and prevent water from flowing through.
What is the best way to unclog a bathroom sink?
The first thing you should try is to remove any hair and soap scum that might be causing the blockage. Use a hair grabber drain snake to reach down into the drain and remove any debris that might be causing the clog. If that does not work, you should try plunging the sink to see if that will clear the blockage.
If neither of those methods work, you can try using a chemical drain cleaner to break up the clog. However, you should use caution when using chemical cleaners as they can be corrosive and damage your pipes.