How to Unblock a Kitchen Sink: 6 Effective Methods

how to unblock a kitchen sink

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Considering how much you use your kitchen sink, it is not surprising that they can occasionally become clogged. Fortunately, unclogging a kitchen sink is actually one of the simpler home maintenance projects to complete. Most people can unclog a blocked sink and drain standing water on their own without needing help from a professional plumber. This article will teach you how to unblock a kitchen sink using 6 simple and effective methods. By the time you are done reading, you should be all set to unclog sink blockages and maybe even prevent clogs in the future as well.

Getting Started

What Causes a Clogged Kitchen Sink?

Clogged drains can actually happen quite frequently, especially if you use your sink for more than just washing dishes. If you experience a sink clog you are most likely asking yourself, why is my sink blocked? There are several common reasons.

  • Chemical residue and soap scum can build up over time leading to your sink draining slowly.
  • Food debris and other food waste in the drain, like coffee grounds, can create blockages leading to slow drainage or standing water.
  • If you pour grease and fats down the drain, they can harden and clog a kitchen sink drain as well.
  • Lastly, other items like trash or paper towels in the drain can block your garbage disposal and lead to standing water.

Can I Use Chemicals to Unclog a Kitchen Sink?

Many people’s first reaction to a clogged sink may be to grab a bottle of Drano or other types of declogging solution, but we don’t recommend starting with this method. While these types of declogging solutions can be quite effective, the harsh chemicals contained within can damage your pipes leading to even more issues down the line. Unclogging a drain can also cause a backsplash, and harsh chemicals can harm your eyes or skin when this occurs.

Don’t worry though, there are a variety of other methods that work just as well and can be done quickly and easily without the need for harsh chemicals.

How to Unblock a Sink: 6 Effective Methods

The following methods can be used individually, or you can progress through them until your kitchen sink is unblocked. With any luck, you won’t have to try more than a couple before your sink back to normal.

If your sink has standing water we recommend you start by removing as much of it as possible before you undergoing any of the following methods. This will help prevent unnecessary splashing or messes.

Method 1: Flush with Boiling Water

The following methods can be used individually, or you can progress through them until your kitchen sink is unblocked. With any luck, you won’t have to try more than a couple before your sink back to normal.

If your sink has standing water, we recommend you start by removing as much of it as possible before you undergoing any of the following methods. This will help prevent unnecessary splashing or messes.

Do not try this method if your sink is attached to PVC pipes. The heat could damage the pipe.

  • Start by bringing a litre of water to a rolling boil. You can do this on the hob or in a kettle.
  • Slowly pour the boiling water into your sink’s drain.
  • Turn on the hot water to check if the sink is draining properly. If the water drains like normal, you are all set.
  • Repeat if needed. If a second round doesn’t unclog your sink, it is time to add some table salt.
  • Pour half a cup of salt down the drain and then pour more boiling water over the top. If this doesn’t clear the drain, it is time to advance to another method.

Method 2: Check Your Garbage Disposal Unit

Most kitchen sinks feature a garbage disposal in the drain. Often, turning on the garbage disposal can unclog a drain, but if the disposal is clogged or overheating it may need to be reset or unblocked.

  • First, try to reset the garbage disposal by pressing the switch on the bottom or side of the unit underneath the sink.
  • If it still will not turn on, disconnect the power before moving forward.
  • Use a long wooden spoon or a screwdriver to try and move the blades inside the drain. Never put your hand inside the disposal, even when it is disconnected from power.

This may not fix your clogged sink, even if you get the garbage disposal to work again, so it is likely you will have to combine it with another method. Additionally, the garbage disposal will only be on one side if you have a double sink, so you will need to try something else to unclog the side without the blades.

Method 3: Use Your Plunger

Similar to clogs in your bathroom, a plunger can also be quite effective when it comes to unclogging a kitchen sink. If your sink has standing water, you may even want to start with this method.

  • Start by filling your sink about halfway full with hot water. You want the water to create a tight seal around the top of the drain at the very least.
  • Place the plunger over your sink’s drain and begin plunging. Pump the handle up and down several times using quick, sharp motions.
  • Lift the plunger and wait a few seconds to see if the water starts draining.
  • Repeat the plunging process as needed. After several attempts, you may want to advance to the next method.

Method 4: Attack with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Using a baking soda and vinegar solution in your drain works in the same way as a chemical solution like Drano but is much gentler on your pipes. Vinegar and baking soda are also better for the environment.

  • Measure one cup of baking soda and pour it down the sink’s drain.
  • Then, measure and pour one cup of white vinegar down the sink’s drain as well. You can also use apple cider vinegar if that is what you have available.
  • Cover the drain or insert a rubber stopper to create an airtight seal over the drain.
  • Next, let the mixture sit for a few minutes; approximately 15 should do the trick.
  • Remove the stopper and run hot tap water or warm water down the drain. You can also run hot water down the drain that is boiling to flush tough or stubborn clogs down the pipe.
  • If this doesn’t achieve the desired results, you can repeat the process using the same ingredients or a cup of baking soda and half a cup of salt. Otherwise, move on to an alternative method.

Method 5: Try Using a Wire Coat Hanger or a Plumber’s Snake

A plumber’s snake is a handy tool used to break up and dislodge clogs in any kind of drain. You can often find fairly inexpensive plumber’s snake models in hardware stores, but you can also try using a wire coat hanger as a DIY solution.

  • Unwind a metal clothes hanger using a pair of pliers. Stretch it out into one long piece leaving a hooked end on one side.
  • Drop the hooked end of the hanger, or plumber’s snake, into the drain until it reaches some resistance from the actual blockage.
  • Then, hook the clog with the snake or hangar and pull it back up and out of the drain.
  • Repeat several times until you feel the entire blockage has been removed.
  • To finish up, run warm water down the drain to make sure it is back to normal.

Method 6: Clean Out the P-Trap

The P-trap or U-bend in a sink’s drainage pipe may also be clogged. Cleaning it out can often remove any stubborn debris in the pipe and increase its drainage speed.

  • Place a bucket underneath the p-trap and horizontal drain pipe to catch any falling debris and water. We also recommend you put on rubber gloves as this method can become quite messy.
  • Start unscrewing the pieces connecting the p-trap to the vertical wall pipe and the horizontal pipe.
  • Remove the p-trap and clean it and the pipes out, removing any clogs or residue. You can try inserting your coat hanger further up into the pipes to get clogs that are out of reach.
  • Reattach the p-trap and turn on the faucet to see if you successfully unclogged your sink. If not, it may be time to take more drastic measures.

Additional Things to Consider

When Should You Call a Plumber?

If none of the methods described above was successful, it may be time to call a plumber.

However, you could try out a chemical cleaning solution as the very last option before calling for professional help. We know we said it isn’t always great for your pipes or the environment, but as a last resort, it can often help quite a bit.

If chemicals do not work either, all that is left is to call a plumber to evaluate the cause of the problem and find a possible solution.

How Can I Prevent Future Clogs?

While cleaning out a clogged drain isn’t always very difficult, there are a few things you can do to help prevent clogs from occurring in the first place.

First, run hot water for a few seconds after using the sink to help prevent build-up from occurring in the first place.

Initiate a regular cleaning routine for the sink and the drain to help it run smoothly and to eliminate a build-up of soap scum.

Use a drain cover over the drain opening to prevent excessive food scraps from entering the drain.

Only put small food scraps in the garbage disposal, so you don’t dull the blades or cause them to overheat.

Lastly, try to avoid putting any of these items in your garbage disposal or down your kitchen sink’s drain:

  • Paper towels or other paper products
  • Food wrappers
  • Paint
  • Gum
  • Seeds, pits, and stickers from fruit
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Oil or grease
  • Meat
  • Starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice, or potato peels

Dispose of the above items in the kitchen bin or possibly in a compost heap to help prevent future clogs and build-up from happening. You may save yourself a lot of time in the process.

Unblocking Your Sink Drain Made Easy

If your kitchen sink is clogged, we hope you now have a good understanding of how you can attempt to remedy the issue without having to call for professional help right away. Just remember that if one method doesn’t work, move on to another, and possibly another, until your sink is draining like normal again.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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