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How to Unblock a Sink [Plumbers’ 10 Effective Methods]

Blocked Sink and Plunger

A blocked bathroom or kitchen sink is an eventuality we all dread and never a pleasant experience. Weird smells, strange gurgling sounds, or slow draining water is your sinks’ way of telling you to get the clog taken care of soon. In most of the cases, you can find out how to unblock a sink yourself using one of a few different methods before turning to outside help.

How to Unblock a Sink With a Plunger

Step #1. Drain any remaining water

The first thing you need to do is to remove any debris such as food fragments, hair, and standing water. You want a relatively water-free sink. So, grab a pair of rubber gloves, a cup, and a bucket and scoop the water out.

Step #2. Clear debris from the plughole

Unscrew the plug and give it a good clean. You want to remove as much soap scum or debris as you can as this might be what is blocking up your sink. If you removed a blockage, try running the taps to see if the water drains away.

Step #3. Secure the overflow

Use an old towel or dishcloth to block the overflow. You want to make sure that seal is tight, so cover it with strong tape. 

Step #4. Grab the plunger

Place the bottom of the plunger around the plughole and fill up the sink with around 5cm of lukewarm water to create a tight seal. Now firmly, but not vigorously, pump the plunger up and down to create suction and dislodge the water and any solids trapped in the pipe. Hopefully, this will take care of the problem and you just found out how to unblock your kitchen sink..

How to Unblock a Sink Without a Plunger

Method #1. How to Unclog a Sink With Bicarbonate of Soda

Using bicarbonate of soda is a simple and cheap trick that you can use to unblock your sink. It’s also a great regular maintenance method to help prevent a serious blockage. 

Step #1. Run some boiling water down the drain

Put the kettle on and boil up some water. Pour it directly down the drain so that it can get to work on dissolving any organic matter. 

Step #2. Pour a cup of baking soda

Put 1 cup of baking soda directly into the plughole. You can always use a small funnel to ensure it gets right down there. Leave it for a few minutes.

Step #3. Add in a cup of vinegar

Now, you pour 1 cup of white vinegar and wait for the fizzles and sizzles. This is the chemical reaction needed to unclog the grime which is creating the blockage. 

Step #4. Wait and flush with boiling water

Pop the plug back in and let the baking soda and vinegar work their magic for about 5-10 minutes. Boil the kettle once more and then pour it down the drain. 

Method #2. Use Soda Crystals or Washing Powder

Soda crystals are a multi-purpose cleaner that can work wonders on a blocked sink. Start by pouring some boiling water down the drain. Then put 1 mug of soda crystals in the plughole followed by 1 mug of hot water and wait 5 minutes. Pour in another kettleful of boiling water to thoroughly flush and clean the drain. Washing powder can also be an effective sink unblocker. Simply put 2 tablespoons of biological washing powder down the plughole and then flush through with boiling water. You may need to repeat either treatment several times depending on how bad the clog is.

Method #3. Unclog Your Drain With Alka-Seltzer

If you wonder how to unblock your bathroom sink and you think it’s a mild blockage causing the problem? Try popping a couple of Alka-seltzer tablets in the plughole, washed down by a cup of vinegar. Give it a few minutes before pouring in some boiling water.

Method #4. How to Unclog a Drain With a Snake

If you haven’t had any luck with the above methods, you could try a drain snake. It’s the secret weapon for homeowners and plumbers to clear stubborn pipe blockages. 

Step #1. Get the snake into your sink drain

Feed the snake into the drain. Never force it down. The head of the snake is designed to do the hard work for you. 

Step #2. Push until there’s a blockage

Gently push the snake until you can’t feed it any further down the pipe.

Step #3. Rotate the snake clockwise

Use the handle to unravel the coil so the snake finds its way into the obstruction. As you rotate the handle back and forth you should feel the blockage starting to break up. Carefully continue until you don’t feel any more resistance. 

Step #4. Test and repeat if necessary

Rewind the snake back up the pipe and remove it. Turn on the tap and see if the water runs down the plug freely. If this hasn’t done the trick, go through the entire process again.

Method #5. Clear Your Blocked Sink With a Wire

If you don’t have a drain snake at hand you could try a quick DIY alternative and use a straightened wire coat hanger or net curtain wire to unblock and clean it. Gently push the wire down the plughole until you find the blockage. Give it a little jiggle and gradually apply more pressure until the blockage is dislodged. 

Method #6. Try Out a Sink Unblocker

Sink unblockers power through standing water straight to the blockage. Pour the entire bottle down the drain and wait for it to work for the recommended time on the product instructions. Simply flush with hot water to destroy the toughest clogs in your drain. Using these products regularly is great to keep your drains clear. 

Method #7. Push Your Blockage With a Burst of Water

Sometimes, the simplest methods are the best. Fill up a large 2-liter plastic bottle with hot water. Then put the open end down the plughole and quickly squeeze as hard as you can to force whatever is blocking the pipes down and out. 

Method #8. How to Unblock a U-Bend

If all that fails, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and prepare for a bit of dirty work. Sometimes, the only way to unblock your kitchen or bathroom sink is to remove the u-bend and clear it out by hand. 

Step #1. Get ready for the job

Hopefully, you have a strong stomach and some old work clothes. This is going to be a smelly and messy job. Rubber gloves are also a must. Place some old towels under the sink to catch any drips of water and have a bucket within reach. 

Step #2. Find and remove the u-bend

The u-bend is the first bend in the pipe right under the plughole. Put the bucket under the u-bend and very slowly unscrew each section of the pipe with a wrench just enough so that the excess water can drip out. When the water stops dripping you can continue to completely unscrew and remove it.

Step #3. Clean and get rid of debris

Take the u-bend to another sink, or outside if possible, and give it a good clean. You can use a wire coat hanger, warm water, disinfectant spray to really make sure it’s smelling and looking a lot better.

Step #4. Fit the u-bend and test

Reconnect the u-bend using a wrench and test it by running the tap a little. If you do have a leak, remove and reattach the section again. 

Method #9. Use Bleach As a Last Resort

Bleach should only be used when you’ve run out of options. It can sanitize and deodorize sinks but probably won’t cut through hair, grease, or whatever else is clogging it. Always remember to protect your eyes and skin and keep the room well-ventilated. Pour a cup of bleach down the drain, followed by a kettleful of hot water.

And if Your Sink is Still Blocked?

If the above methods haven’t cleared the blockage, it’s probably time to call in the professionals. We’ve got everything you need to get things flowing again and sorted out in no time.

How to Prevent Clogged Sinks?

The easiest and best way to avoid a blocked sink is to not put anything down it that doesn’t belong, which is basically anything other than water or liquid:

  • Food
  • Fat, oil, and grease
  • Cotton wool buds
  • Plastic 
  • Tissues
  • Drinking straws
  • Paper

Key Takeaways

  • Prevention is always better than a cure, so you might want to consider adding a sink unblocker to your regular cleaning routine. 
  • Never put anything other than liquids down your drain to avoid future blockages.
  • Try some of the homemade solutions with products you probably already have around the house before resorting to professional help.

How to Unblock a Sink [Plumbers’ 10 Effective Methods]

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