Clogged and dirty sink drains are a common problem in most homes. Food particles, hair, and soap scum can slowly build up in your sink’s drain over time, causing the water to drain slower. If your kitchen or bathroom sink is starting to drain sluggishly, the problem is likely a clogged plug hole.
The good news is that unclogging a plug hole is an easy DIY task without special tools. With some simple ingredients you probably already have at home, you can get your sink draining like new again.
Let’s get started!
Causes of Clogged Sink Drains
Having to deal with a slowed or clogged sink drain can be annoying and inconvenient. But before you can unclog a plugged-up sink, it helps to understand what causes sink drains to clog in the first place.
There are several common culprits that can lead to a gradual build-up of gunk, sludge, and debris in your drain over time:
Excessive Food Waste and Grease
Food scraps and grease are some of the biggest reasons kitchen sink drains get clogged. Allowing bits of food waste to wash down the drain introduces solids that can get caught in the pipes. Grease and cooking oils will coat and stick to the sides of pipes.
Avoid pouring fats, oils, and grease down the drain. Scrape plates and dispose of food waste in the trash instead. Using strainers in sinks can catch debris before it goes down the drain.
Build Up of Hair and Soap Scum
Lots of hair and soap residue from baths, showers, and washing your hands can accumulate inside drain pipes. When wet, hair and soap can stick to pipe walls.
To prevent build-up, use drain catchers and regularly remove debris. Don’t wash large amounts of hair down the drain.
Growth of Mold and Mildew
Standing water in pipes can promote the spread of mold, mildew, and bacteria. These growths can line drain walls and contribute to clogs.
Allowing drains to dry completely between uses and periodically disinfecting with baking soda and vinegar can help control mould and mildew.
Accumulation of Minerals from Hard Water
Over time, mineral deposits from hard water can also adhere to the insides of drains. This limescale and calcium carbonate buildup narrows drain openings.
Regularly flush drains with homemade vinegar and baking soda cleaner to dissolve mineral deposits. Using water-softening systems can also help reduce limescale.
Introduction of Foreign Objects
Toys, jewellery, and other items that accidentally get washed down the drain can get lodged and cause a clog. Hairpins, cotton swabs, and dental floss are common culprits.
Use drain catchers and avoid putting any foreign objects down sinks to prevent blockages.
Damaged/Cracked Pipes or Pipe Joints
Cracks or damage anywhere along sink drain pipes can allow debris to catch and accumulate. Misaligned joints where pipe sections meet can also trap gunk and cause clogs.
Inspect pipes under sinks for leaks, damage, or disconnected joints. Repair or replace damaged sections as needed.
Knowing the most common causes of clogged drains can help you prevent future blockages and keep your sink flowing freely.
Preventing Clogged Drains
Once you’ve experienced the hassle of a clogged drain, you’ll want to take steps to avoid dealing with another slow-flowing sink. Luckily, there are several easy ways to help prevent gunk and debris from building up in your drains over time.
Implementing good housekeeping and regular maintenance habits can go a long way towards keeping drains free-flowing. Try these tips:
Install Sink Strainers and Regularly Empty Out Debris
Sink strainers are effective at catching food scraps and particles before they enter the drain. Strainers come in many styles that fit over or inside sink drains.
Remember to regularly empty strainers so they don’t become clogged themselves. Scrap debris into the trash as needed.
Limit Food Waste Going Down Disposal
Avoid sending large amounts of food waste down the garbage disposal if you have one. While modern disposals are designed to grind up debris, too much can still accumulate in pipes.
Compost food scraps when possible or throw them in the trash instead.
Wipe Plates and Dishes Before Washing
Give plates, pots, pans, and utensils a quick wipe or rinse to remove leftover food debris before washing them in the sink. This keeps large particles from going down the drain.
Collect Excess Hair Before it Goes Down the Drain
Comb, brush, and shave over a trash can so hair doesn’t reach the sink. Use hair catchers and covers over drains to grab stray hairs.
Remove wads of hair from the shower and sink drains regularly.
Use Drain Catchers/Covers to Prevent Foreign Objects from Falling In
Drain catchers not only grab hair but prevent small items like jewellery or toys from accidentally falling into the drain.
Covering bathroom drains between uses keeps debris out.
Clean Pipes Regularly with Baking Soda and Vinegar
Every few months, flush drains with a homemade baking soda and vinegar treatment. This can help break up grease, dissolve soap scum, and dislodge built-up gunk.
Being proactive about keeping drains clear through simple habits and maintenance can save you from dealing with inconveniences like clogged sinks.
Unclogging a Sink Drain: Supplies Needed
When tackling a clogged sink drain, having the right supplies on hand will make the job easier. Here are some of the most common items you’ll need to clear blockages and get your sink flowing freely again:
A standard sink plunger is a must-have for DIY drain unclogging. The suction can help dislodge built-up gunk. Get a plunger designed specifically for sinks rather than toilets.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a fizzy chemical reaction that can break up grease and debris. Have some handy to make this classic DIY drain cleaner.
Pouring boiling water down the drain can help melt and wash away soap scum or grease clogs. Heat a kettle of water on the stove before tackling your drain.
Wire Coat Hanger
Straighten out a wire coat hanger to create a handy DIY snake for loosening clogs. Bend one end to hook debris.
For tough clogs, a mechanical drain auger or snake can reach deep into pipes to clear blockages. You can rent or buy different sizes.
A wet/dry shop vacuum can create powerful suction for removing loosened gunk. Place the hose over the drain opening.
Chemical Drain Cleaner
Commercial drain cleaning liquids or gels help break down organic matter. Look for formulas safe for your pipes.
Protective Gloves, Goggles, Masks
Protect yourself against dirty water spray-back and hazardous chemical fumes with gloves, goggles, and masks. Avoid direct skin and eye contact.
Having the right equipment for the clog can make unclogging a drain much simpler. Start with household ingredients before moving to mechanical means.
How to Unclog a Sink Drain with a Plunger – A Step-by-Step Guide
Has your bathroom or kitchen sink been draining slowly lately? Having to deal with standing water after washing hands or dirty dishes is not only gross but an inconvenience. Chances are you have a clogged drain that needs unclogging.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to clear mild to moderate sink clogs is by using a simple plunger. With some water and elbow grease, you can get your sink drain flowing freely again.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to unclog a sink drain using a plunger:
Choose the Right Plunger for Sink Drains
Plungers come in a few different styles, but the most common options for sink drain unclogging are cup plungers or flange plungers. Both have a flexible rubber cup attached to a wooden handle.
- Cup plungers look like enlarged toilet plungers. They have a basic hemispherical cup.
- Flange plungers have a thin rubber flange that extends out from the cup perimeter to create a better seal over sink openings.
Avoid using a flat, accordion-style toilet plunger. It won’t create an airtight seal on a flat sink drain.
Look for plungers designed specifically for sink and shower drains, as they will be sized accordingly. Make sure the rubber cup is in good condition with no dry rot or cracks.
Fill Sink Halfway with Hot Water
Before plunging, add some water to the sink basin. Fill the sink about halfway full with very hot tap water. This gives the plunger enough water volume to effectively push against it.
The hot temperature helps melt any grease or soap buildup in the pipes. Make sure not to overfill the sink, which can splash water out.
If the clog is farther down the pipes, you may need to fill a neighbouring sink on the same drain line as well.
Seal Plunger Firmly Over Drain Opening
Once the sink is partially filled, make a tight seal between the plunger and drain.
Place the plunger cup directly over the drain opening in the centre of the sink. Push it down firmly to form an airtight seal all the way around the rubber edges.
For cup plungers, angle the handle slightly down into the drain. For flange plungers, align the plunger head squarely over the opening.
The better the seal, the more suction force the plunger will generate.
Plunge Forcefully Up and Down
Here comes the muscle work. With the plunger securely in place, use vigorous, rapid motions to plunge it up and down repeatedly.
Lean your body weight into the downward strokes, then pull up quickly. This forces air down through the drain opening to create strong suction.
Repeat the quick plunge motion around 15-20 times to adequately pressurize the drain line. The more forceful you can be, the better.
Check Drain and Repeat if Needed
Once you’ve completed 15-20 forceful plunges, pull the plunger away from the drain opening. Some water should start draining immediately. See if the sink drains more freely now or if standing water remains.
If the sink still seems sluggish, reseal the plunger and do 2-3 more sets of 15 plunges. Repeating the process gives you a better chance to dislodge the clog.
Flush with Hot Water
After unclogging with the plunger, run very hot water down the drain for a minute or two to help flush away any loosened gunk or debris. Let it run for a few minutes.
You can also mix a bit of liquid soap in with the hot water to help lubricate pipes and break up any remaining grease.
The key is getting as much water down the drain as possible to wash away any dislodged clog.
Use a Secondary Method if Plunger Fails
If your sink remains fully clogged after vigorously plunging and flushing with hot water, the blockage is likely too extensive for a plunger alone.
In that case, reach for a secondary unclogging method like:
- Baking soda and vinegar drain cleaner
- Mechanical snake/auger
- Chemical gel drain cleaner
Don’t keep plunging for too long or you can risk pushing the clog farther down pipes and making removal more difficult.
Prevention Tips to Avoid Future Clogs
Once your sink is flowing freely again, take steps to prevent future clogs:
- Use sink strainers to catch debris
- Limit grease/food down drains
- Periodically flush drains with baking soda and vinegar
- Clean pop-up stoppers and overflows
Stay diligent about keeping drains maintained. Take action at the first sign of a slow drain to prevent full clogs.
A simple plunger can successfully remove many basic sink clogs with some patience and elbow grease. Follow these steps to easily unclog your sink drain without harsh chemicals or expensive professional help.
Unclogging Drains with Baking Soda and Vinegar: A Homemade Solution
Do you have a bathroom or kitchen sink that is starting to drain slowly? Those sluggish drains are early signs of clogged pipes. Small bits of accumulated food, grease, hair, and soap can gradually build up over time, obstructing water flow.
Before the problem turns into a fully clogged drain, try unclogging it yourself using a natural homemade solution of baking soda and vinegar. Thanks to a fun chemical reaction, this dynamic duo can dissolve gunk and get your sink draining freely again.
How Baking Soda and Vinegar Can Unclog Drains
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a water-soluble base, while vinegar (acetic acid) is an acidic solution. When you mix the two together, they undergo a fizzy chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide gas.
This release of gas pressure and bubbles is key to breaking up and propelling clogs out of drain pipes. The baking soda also helps neutralize odours.
Best of all, this DIY drain unclogger is made from common household products so it’s inexpensive and non-toxic for pipes. No need for harsh chemical cleaners.
Follow these simple steps to safely unclog your slow sink drain using the power of baking soda and vinegar:
Pour Baking Soda Down Drain
pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda down the clogged drain. Really coat the inside of the drain and pipes by pouring slowly. Let it sit for a few minutes.
Pour Vinegar Down Drain
pour 1/2 cup of household vinegar down the drain after the baking soda. It will immediately start an eruption of fizzing and bubbles. The chemical reaction is activated!
Plug Drain and Allow to React
Quickly plug the drain opening with a stopper or rag once the vinegar is poured. This contains the fizzy reaction inside the pipes so it can work on breaking up gunk. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
Flush With Boiling Water
After letting the homemade drain cleaner work for a bit, pour about 2 quarts of boiling hot water down the drain to help flush away any loosened debris or buildup.
Be sure to unplug the drain right before flushing it with water. The hot temperature also further helps dissolve soaps and grease.
Use a Plunger If Needed
If your drain remains sluggish after the baking soda/vinegar treatment, follow up by vigorously plunging the drain 10-15 times. This can help physically eject any remaining clogs.
For preventive maintenance, repeat this entire drain-cleaning process weekly to keep your pipes clear and flowing fast.
- Add more baking soda if you have a very slow drain or notice odours.
- Use a plunger first if the sinks are completely clogged before trying the homemade cleaner.
- Avoid using a metal drain stopper to plug the drain when mixing chemicals.
Revive your slow sinks and keep drains flowing fast with this safe, eco-friendly solution using ingredients from your pantry. The satisfying fizz of baking soda and vinegar will make drain cleaning almost fun!
Unclogging Drains with a Wire Coat Hanger
Dealing with a clogged sink or tub drain in your home can be a nuisance that’s quick to solve. Before calling a plumber or reaching for harsh chemical drain cleaners, try this simple DIY unclogging method using a common household item – a wire coat hanger!
Straightened into a hook, a metal coat hanger can manually snag and dislodge debris that’s slowing your drains. It’s an affordable, non-toxic solution you can implement with items already at home.
Why a Coat Hanger Works
The long, narrow metal wire of a coat hanger is thin enough to easily insert down most standard drain pipes. The hooked end allows you to manually scratch, poke, and fish out the gunk, hair, and other debris caught in the drain.
By twisting and turning the hanger inside the pipe, you can break up minor obstructions. Retrieving any grime caught on the wire also clears it from your pipes.
It may take some manoeuvring, but a wire hanger can provide quick relief for simple bathroom and kitchen clogs before they get worse.
Follow these steps to put an old wire coat hanger to work on your clogged drains:
Straighten Hanger as Much as Possible
Use pliers to untwist and straighten out the coat hanger wire as best you can. Remove any plastic coatings. The more linear the wire, the deeper you can reach into pipes.
Insert It into the Drain Opening
Carefully insert the straightened wire into the drain opening, pushing gently to reach as far down as possible. If you meet resistance, rotate the wire to maneuver it down the pipe.
Scratch at the Clog with the End
Once inserted, twist and rotate the hook end to scratch, agitate, and loosen the clog. Move up and down to dislodge debris from pipe walls. Be persistent if it’s really stuck.
Twist to Catch Debris
Try to snag or capture any bits of hair or gunk on the hooked wire end. Slowly extract the wire to pull out anything wrapped around or stuck to it.
Flush with Hot Water
Finally, flush the drain with very hot water for a minute or two to wash away any remaining particles. Add a bit of liquid soap too as a lubricant.
Check if the water drains faster now. You may need to repeat the process several times to clear a bad clog.
- Work at different angles to access clogs from all sides.
- Have someone pour boiling water as you work the wire for added impact.
- Use a small mirror to see exactly where the clog is located.
With some persistent manoeuvring, a humble coat hanger can remove minor backups and get your sink or tub flowing again!
Using a Drain Snake/Auger to Unclog Sinks
When simple plunging fails to unclog a persistently slow drain, it’s time to bring out a mechanical drain snake. Also called an auger, this handy tool can drill through tough clogs that are deeper in pipes.
Follow these steps to put a drain snake to work on your clogged sink:
Select Appropriate Sized Drain Snake Based on Drain Pipe
Drain snakes come in different diameters. Choose one that matches the width of your sink drain pipes. Smaller sinks and showers may only require a 1/4″ or 3/8″ snake, while kitchen sink main lines are often 1/2″.
Using a snake too large can damage pipes, while one too small won’t break up clogs well. Refer to your sink specs if unsure.
Slowly Insert Snake into Drain Opening, Pushing Through Clog
Feed the end of the drain snake down into the drain opening, going slowly to avoid scratching the enamel. Apply firm pressure as you encounter resistance to force the snake through the clogged mass.
Crank Handle When Resistance is Felt to Work Through Clog
Once the snake meets the clog, start turning the crank handle on the auger to slowly drill and work through the debris. Keep pushing forward as you crank to advance farther into the clog.
When Clog is Broken Up, Remove Snake and Flush with Hot Water
Continue drilling the drain snake until the clog is broken up and you can feed the snake farther down the pipes. Finish by slowly extracting the tool and flushing the drain with hot water to wash debris away.
Drain snakes are great for busting through tough clog blockages that are out of reach. Be patient working the snake to clear drains fully.
Unclogging Drains with a Wet/Dry Vacuum
When simple drain snakes or chemical cleaners fail, break out the wet/dry shop vacuum to clear stubborn sink clogs using raw suction power.
Follow these steps to put your vacuum to work on sluggish drains:
Place Vacuum Nozzle Over Drain Opening
Fit the nozzle end of the hose directly over the clogged drain opening. Push it down to form a tight seal all the way around.
Turn On Vacuum to Create Suction
With the nozzle sealed in place, turn on the wet/dry vacuum to begin generating strong suction over the drain.
Suction Should Pull Clog Out
The powerful suction created can literally suck and pull out whatever is clogging your drain. As it dislodges the blockage, the debris will make its way up the hose.
May Need to Repeat Process
Keep the vacuum running for a minute or two over the drain. If water remains backed up, turn off the vacuum and reseal the nozzle to repeat the process.
Finish by Flushing with Hot Water
Once the vacuum has removed the clog, flush the drain with very hot water to wash away any leftover particles.
The intense suction of a wet/dry vacuum is ideal for removing clogs lodged deep in pipes. Give your vacuum a try before calling a plumber!
Using Chemical Drain Cleaners Safely and Effectively
When dealing with extensive drain clogs that persist after trying mechanical unclogging methods, a chemical drain cleaner may be needed to dissolve the backup.
Chemical cleaners contain powerful caustic agents that can penetrate and eliminate blockages. However, they also come with safety concerns if not used properly.
Here are some tips on how to choose and use chemical drain cleaners effectively while avoiding pipe damage:
Research the Appropriate Cleaner for Your Type of Clog
Drain cleaners come in many formulations for different clog causes:
- Grease dissolvers use lye or other caustics to eat away grease and fatty oils.
- Hair removers contain special enzymes or solvents designed to dissolve hair and soap scum.
- Commercial dissolvers use sulfuric acid or other caustics to clear organic material.
Choose a cleaner suited for the specific clog source. Using the wrong formula can be less effective or cause chemical reactions.
Closely Follow Instructions for Usage Amounts
Carefully follow the product instructions for how much cleaner to use based on the severity of clog. Never exceed the recommended dosage.
Overusing drain cleaner can lead to pipe corrosion without making it more effective. Don’t assume more is better. Start with smaller amounts first.
Slowly Pour Chemical Cleaner into Drain Opening
Remove any drain stoppers and slowly pour the chemical cleaner directly into the drain opening. Try to coat the inside of pipes as much as possible while pouring.
Wear gloves and goggles for safety when handling cleaners. Never mix chemicals together, as toxic gases can result.
Let the Cleaner Sit to Work Through Clog
After adding the cleaner to pipes, allow it to sit for the specified duration (usually 15 minutes to an hour) without flushing water or using any drains. This gives time for the chemicals to fully penetrate and dissolve the clog.
Flush with Hot Water
Once timing is complete, flush the drain with very hot water for 2-3 minutes to rinse away dissolved gunk and any remaining cleaner in pipes. Washing it away prevents further corrosion.
Repeat if Drain Remains Clogged
If water still drains slowly, you can apply a second cleaner application following the same steps. But avoid overusing chemicals in a short time frame.
Use Caution to Avoid Pipe Damage
While effective at eliminating clogs, the caustic ingredients in chemical drain cleaners can gradually degrade pipes when used excessively. Use only for severe clogs and minimize usage.
Try to rely on mechanical means first before turning to chemical cleaners which carry safety and corrosion concerns when misused.
FAQs: how to clean sink plug hole
What is the fastest way to unclog a kitchen sink?
The fastest way to unclog a kitchen sink drain is to use a plunger. Place the plunger over the drain opening and plunge up and down rapidly 15-20 times. This creates suction that can dislodge light debris clogs. Finish by running hot water to flush the drain.
What is the best chemical drain cleaner for kitchen sinks?
For kitchen sinks, a grease-dissolving chemical drain cleaner is best. Grease and fat buildup are common kitchen clog causes. Look for cleaners containing lye or potassium hydroxide that work by saponifying and liquefying thick grease.
What should you not put down the kitchen sink?
Avoid putting food scraps, grease, fat drippings, coffee grounds, eggshells, pasta, rice, tea bags, and vegetable peelings down the kitchen drain. These can all contribute to clogged pipes over time. Compost or trash these items instead.
Why does my kitchen sink drain slow?
Common reasons for a slow kitchen sink drain include grease buildup, food particles, soap scum, hair, and mineral deposits from hard water. These materials gradually accumulate on pipe walls and restrict water flow. Using a drain strainer can help catch debris.
How do you maintain your kitchen sink drain?
Routinely maintain drains by pouring 1⁄2 cup baking soda followed by 1⁄2 cup vinegar down the drain weekly. Use a zip-it tool to remove hair from drains. Avoid pouring fats/oils down the drain. Use a drain strainer. Taking preventive measures helps avoid clogs.
I hope this comprehensive guide gave you useful tips and strategies to tackle a clogged sink drain yourself. Starting with common household items like a plunger or baking soda and vinegar can often do the trick.
For more extensive clogs deeper in pipes, don’t hesitate to use a mechanical drain snake or wet/dry vacuum to really break up and suck out debris.
Take steps to prevent future clogs by installing strainers, limiting grease in drains, and performing routine maintenance.
Dealing with a sluggish sink drain doesn’t require an expensive plumber. With some diligent elbow grease and the right DIY methods, you can likely clear the clog yourself and get your sink flowing freely again!