Clogged sink? 3 easy fix-it methods with things you already have around the house


If you have a sink that drains slowly, you can use vinegar and baking soda to clean it.

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If you try to empty your sink but nothing seems to disappear, chances are it is clogged. And while you could reach for the bottle of Drano, you might prefer a method where you don’t pour chemicals down the drain (or you just don’t have time to run to the store).

The solution you need to get your pipes flowing again may already be in your closets. Some methods require a simple mixture, while others require some extra elbow grease and suction to clear your drain. But these methods are quite cheap compared to calling a plumber.

Depending on how bad the clog is, you may need to follow all of these techniques and repeat a few times to unclog your sink. And if your sink has a garbage disposal, try turning it on before you start grinding any food that might be in it (it’s a common reason for clogging.) Here are the best ways to unclog your sink and eliminate the stagnant, smelly water away.


If your sink doesn’t drain, use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clean it, or submerge it.

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Use a plunger

If you have water in your sink, it’s best to let it flow down the drain. You’ll need a plunger – but preferably not the one from your bathroom (yuck), so use a clean one. It’s a good idea to store a small plunger under your sink for this.

If you have a double sink, be sure to connect the other end before starting, to keep the seal intact and to prevent water from bubbling out the other end.

Place the plunger over the drain in your sink to create a suction effect and pump up and down vigorously until the water begins to flow. After all the standing water is out of the sink, run clean water down the drain to make sure it’s clear. If not, you’ll have to dive again.

Use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar

If you don’t have a clean plunger handy, you can use a proven cleaning technique using baking soda and vinegar. This creates a bubbling reaction that breaks up larger pieces of debris so they can easily go down the drain.

First start with boiling water in a kettle and then pour it down the drain (kettles can heat water anywhere, but it doesn’t matter how you get the boiling water – be careful not to spill it).

It should be boiling and not just hot tap water so it can dissolve and loosen food particles and smaller blockages. This will help flush out the drain, but it won’t clear the blockage completely. However, if you have PVC pipe, it is best to skip this step as it may cause the pipe seals to loosen. You can still flush with hot tap water after you’ve done the vinegar and baking soda treatment.

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Then pour about a cup of baking soda down the drain and let it sit for a few minutes. You may need to use a wooden spoon, rubber spatula, or plastic utensils to push the baking soda down the drain. I would avoid using metal or anything sharp that you don’t want to scrape into your sink.

After the baking soda sits, pour in a cup of white distilled vinegar. The combination creates a carbonated reaction to loosen the blockage. Use a stopper and plug in the sink for about 15 minutes. During this time, bring another pan of water to a boil. When the time is up, pour the boiling water down the sink to flush it one more time.

Repeat regularly to avoid build-up in the future.


Keep your sink drain clear.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Clean the P-trap from old food and grease

If you’ve tried all options, but your sink still won’t drain, you may need to clean the P trap. This is the part of your sink that prevents dirt and sewage gases from rising up the drain.

First, carefully insert a straightened coat hanger through the opening in your sink to dislodge any food that could get stuck in the drain. Unfortunately, if that doesn’t work, you’ll have to take the P-trap apart.

The P-trap is located under the sink and is shaped like a U. To remove it, put on a pair of gloves (such as plastic dishwashing gloves or leather gloves you don’t mind getting dirty) and place a bucket , trash can or a garbage bag under the pipes to catch trapped food or water. If it is too tight, use pliers to loosen the fittings.

Now that it’s removed, use something sturdy like a knife or coat hanger to push the food through and scrape the sides for grease. Now you can reattach the P-trap and watch your water drain as it should.


The P-trap is shaped like a U and is located under your sink.

Do-it-yourself shop

Take good care of your waste disposal

The garbage disposal is one of the most common reasons your sink may be clogged. There may be a spoon, or food that supports it. To keep your sink from getting clogged again, you’ll want to follow these tips.

  • Never pour grease down your drain. Instead, pour it into an old glass jar (such as one from pasta sauce) and throw it in the trash when it cools.
  • If you have a garbage disposal service, always run cold water instead of hot when using it. Cold water helps keep fat in its solid form so it doesn’t stick to the pipe walls. Hot water can melt it, leaving smooth residues to stick to the pipes.
  • Do not put certain foodstuffs through the waste disposal — such as potato skins, bones, coffee grounds, pasta and more. They can damage or dull the blades (bones, coffee grounds) or cause them to become sticky and clogged (potato peels, pasta).

What’s a creative way to unclog your sink? Let us know in the comments.

Ready to unclog the plumbing in the rest of your home? Checking out how to clean your shower head the stupid easy way and unclog a toilet without a plunger.

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