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How to Unclog a Blocked Sink

A blocked sink can lead to unpleasant odors and a whole lot of inconvenience. Find out how to fix a clogged sink with this step-by-step guide!


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

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It happens to everyone: one day you’re happily washing your hands at your bathroom or kitchen sink, and suddenly you notice the water’s not going down the plug hole as it should. You wait for the water to drain and try to wash your hands again, but the situation is the same, and what’s more it’s giving off an unpleasant smell!

That’s when knowing how to unclog a sink comes in handy. But how do you unclog a sink if it’s the first time you’ve encountered the problem? Simple: this article contains all the info you need to unclog sinks as quickly as possible.

A thick bleach like Domex can be effective at clearing blockages in drains – it is specially formulated to eradicate germs as well as remove nasty odors!

How to unclog a sink in 4 steps

It really is quite straight-forward – just follow the steps below.

Step one: Get ready

Before you start, make sure you put on rubber gloves and protect your clothing. Read the safety instructions on any equipment or products you plan to use.

Step two: Flush the clogged drain with hot water

  1. Fill a bucket with hot water and pour it from a height into the sink.

  2. Gravity will push the hot water down the drain, hopefully dissolving any grease or dirt blockage in its way.

  3. You may need to repeat this process more than once.

  4. If there’s already a lot of standing water in the sink you may find this method won’t progress the situation any further, so proceed to the next stage and learn how to unclog sinks with a plunger.

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Step three: Use a sink plunger to unclog your sink

  1. Be sure you use the right type of plunger for the sink (toilet plungers are larger and a different shape).

  2. Make sure you don’t have too much standing water in the sink, and plug up any overflow pipes to prevent water coming back in through another opening.

  3. Make sure the seal is water-tight and you use a slow pumping action to shift any blockage in the drain below.

  4. Never use a drain cleaning product beforehand, as it could splash on you during plunging.

how to unclog a blocked sink

You might also be able to unclog drains with natural products in your kitchen:

If these methods haven't worked, you need to know how to clean a clogged sink with a commercial product like Domex (always read the safety instructions first). Read on to find out how.

Step four: Use a commercial drain-cleaning product

  1. Choose a thick drain-cleaning product or bleach like Domex – known for its germ killing properties.

  2. Read the safety guidelines – wear to protective clothing & ensure the area is well ventilated.

  3. According to the instructions on the label, pour the product into the drain and wait for it to dissolve the blockage.

  4. Rinse the drain with cold water to flush away any debris and repeat if necessary.

If the blockage still remains, consider calling out a specialist.

Causes of a Clogged Sink

To prevent further issues, be aware of the potential reasons your sink may have become blocked:

  • Toys or small items like hairclips fall into the plug hole.

  • A build up of hair combined with a build up of soap scum to form a blockage.

  • Food waste and grease builds up over time to block a pipe.

  • Your exterior drain is blocked and water cannot flow through from the bathroom or kitchen.

  • Put on protective clothing and read safety instructions.

  • Flush the sink with hot water.

  • Use a plunger to clear blockages.

  • Use a commercial drain-cleaning product.

  • Flush with clean water.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on blocked sinks and drains

How do you clear a blocked sink without a plunger?

There are a number of ideas we can recommend for how to clear a blocked sink without a plunger. You could try 2 alka seltzer tablets or 2 teaspoons with a cup of vinegar: leave for 5 minutes before flushing with a full kettle of boiling water. Alternatively, put 2 tablespoons of washing powder down the sink followed immediately by a full kettle of boiling water.

What do I do if I have a jammed sink plug?

A jammed sink plug doesn’t have to be a reason to call a plumber. It’s likely that the plug is jammed by a build-up of residue and all you need is a little traction to unscrew it. Try placing a rubber glove on your hand and pushing down with your thumb and two fingers, twisting anti-clockwise. Even though your plug may be jammed, this will unscrew the plug, and in doing so raise it enough for you to pop it out. Make sure you clean the plug as well as the plug hole before putting it back in place.

What can I do if I have a shower with a clogged drain and there is standing water?

A shower clogged drain and standing water is simple enough to fix, you just need a little time. First, add a ½ cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup of white vinegar directly to the drain and allow it to work for 15 minutes. Even with standing water this should help dissolve grease and blockages and allow the standing water to drain away.

Can I follow this advice if I have a toilet with a clogged drain?

A toilet clogged drain can be dealt with in pretty much exactly the same fashion as a shower or sink drain – and you don’t need to have a plunger to hand. From hot water to natural remedies, there are plenty of options to unblock your toilet in no time.

Originally published