How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink Drain the Right Way Step-by-Step
A clogged sink can be a huge nuisance when it happens—that’s why this article is here to help you learn step-by-step how to unclog a kitchen sink yourself!
There are multiple ways to unclog a sink. In this article, we will walk you through the best methods. It will begin with the most straightforward techniques and work through to the more difficult ones.
Fixing a common household problem like this on your own can be a significant inconvenience, especially when it’s a minor clog, and all you need is a plunger or boiling water to solve the issue. Continue reading to find out the best ways to unclog your kitchen sink—whether it’s single or a double—with as little hassle as possible!
Open and Clear the Kitchen Drain
The first step when confronting a clogged sink is to make sure that a blockage—such as food or coffee grounds—isn’t the source of the problem.
To check for blockages, open the kitchen drain by removing any stoppers or mesh screens or the rubber seal from the garbage disposal if you have one. Shine a flashlight in to look for apparent blockages.
For some older sinks, you might need a screwdriver to remove the drain trap. Opening the drain will let you know if the clog is immediate or further down the pipes and more difficult to dislodge.
Use a Plunger
Your next step is to grab a plunger. (For sanitary purposes, make sure you have separate plungers available for the bathroom and the kitchen.) If there is standing water in the sink, you should remove it and then add enough additional water to cover the bell of the plunger. The plunger will create a seal, producing enough pressure to dislodge the clog.
If you have a double sink, you will want to first seal the second drain opening with a stopper or a wet cloth. Once you place the plunger over the drain, you should maintain the seal and plunge up and down quickly. Keep the plunger head underwater, only lifting it about an inch when you raise it.
If this method is successful, you will hear the suction dislodge the clog, and you can rinse the drain well with hot water to wash away all the debris. This simple method is the first thing you should try if you encounter a clogged kitchen sink.
Try Boiling Water
The next thing you can attempt, or what you should start with if you don’t have a plunger on hand, is using boiling water to unclog your sink.
Again, remove standing water from the clogged sink, bailing it out with a cup if necessary. Boil a pot of hot water on the stove and pour the entire thing down the drain. If the clog blocks the water and prevents it from flowing, give the water time to cool before bailing it out and starting over with the process.
You can also try pouring 1/2 cup of table salt down the drain before adding the boiling water. Flush again with hot water afterward.
It may take multiple rounds of boiling water to get rid of the clog, but this technique saves you from having to purchase any extra supplies or tools. If plunging doesn’t work or you need to unclog the sink without using a plunger, this may do the trick for you.
Baking Soda and Vinegar Mixture
If the above methods don’t work, we recommend this method for how to unclog a kitchen sink. The baking soda and vinegar mixture is gentler on your pipes than chemical drain cleaners, making it a preferable alternative. All you need is baking soda and white vinegar to try it.
As always, bail out any standing water. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain and add one cup of white vinegar. The combination will start a chemical reaction, causing the solution to bubble. Place a stopper in the drain and give the mixture 15 minutes to work, then run hot tap water to finish the process.
The reaction between the baking soda and vinegar is an effective one for clearing clogs. If the first two methods don’t work, this alternative is one of our top choices because it only requires everyday household items. A cleansing solution of baking soda and vinegar in equal parts, usually about 1/2 cup of each, is also an excellent mixture for regular maintenance and keeping your drain clear in the future.
If you have a wet-dry vacuum available, it’s a useful tool for kitchen sink clogs. Start by setting it up for wet use according to the instructions. If you have a double sink, you should make sure to seal the second drain opening just as with the plunger technique.
Place the hose over the drain and create a tight seal. Turn the vacuum to the highest setting to clear the clog. The pressure from the vacuum should be enough to remove the clog.
This method can be successful, but it’s probably only worth trying if you already have a wet-dry vacuum easily accessible to you. Otherwise, continue to the other techniques listed below.
Use a Plumber’s Drain Snake (Three Steps)
Also called an auger, a plumber’s drain snake is the way to go when other methods don’t seem to be working, and the clog seems to be further down the pipe system. This tool will “snake” down the drain to remove the clog.
If you don’t own an auger, you can often rent them for short periods at home improvement stores instead of purchasing one outright. Ask the staff about how to unclog a kitchen sink, and they can point you in the right direction. Alternatively you can call the plumbers at All Dry USA.
The first thing you should try with your drain snake is feeding it down the drain until you meet resistance. Once the cable is in contact with the clog, pull out an extra foot of the cable to hold as slack. Lock the cable and begin to turn the crank. This technique will lodge the end of the cable into the clog and start to push forward.
You should feel a change in pressure once the clog clears. You can retract the drain snake and run hot tap water down the drain to remove any additional debris. If this process doesn’t work, the next step is to get under the sink!
The second step involves getting into the P-trip, which is the curved piece of pipe that connects to the horizontal and vertical drain pipe. Remove the connectors and take out the trap to see if there is any debris. Once you have managed to clear the clog, replace the trap and run water to see if the sink still clogs.
If this method did not dislodge the clog, the next step is to remove the horizontal pipe connected to the wall pipe. Feed the auger into the wall pipe using the same method as described above. Once you have eliminated the clog, re-fit the pipe. Make sure to hand-tighten the connectors; if they are too tight, they may break.
Finally, run hot water to ensure that you have been able to remove the clog! You should also check under the sink to make sure you have replaced the pipes correctly, and there are no leaks.
In a pinch, you can use a straightened coat hanger in place of a plumber’s snake. It won’t be able to reach as far down the drain pipe, but it may be able to dislodge clogs further up in the pipes.
Prevent Clogs Before They Happen
The best way to deal with how to unclog a kitchen sink is never to clog it in the first place! Here are a few accessible preventative practices to take care of your pipe system.
The simplest thing you can do is run hot tap water down the drain after each time you use the sink. This step takes no time at all and is a great way to practice some minor maintenance.
It’s crucial to use mesh screens over all of your drains to catch debris and prevent it from building up in the pipes. Additionally, some things should never go down a kitchen sink. Grease is a primary culprit for causing clogs, as it solidifies when cold and can build up with other food. Oil and coffee grounds are also a no-go for disposing of down the drain.
If you have a garbage disposal, clean it regularly. Once a month, you can use a brush or grind up a mixture of ice and salt to remove any build-up of extra food waste. As mentioned, the baking soda and vinegar mixture also works well as a cleaning solution. The additional cleaning will prevent the garbage disposal from clogging and keep it working effectively. These methods are low-cost, low-effort ways to avoid the hassle of clogs ever happening.
Let The Pros Help
You can clear most clogs quickly with the methods listed above. Sometimes, however, the issue is more severe and needs further attention. If you have tried everything from plunging to baking soda and vinegar to a plumber’s snake, and nothing seems to work for how to unclog a kitchen sink, it may be time to call in a professional.
The experts at All Dry USA can quickly and successfully remove any clog, no matter how severe. If you’re experiencing a clog that needs removal as promptly as possible, call us at 1-866-286-5387 for 24/7 emergency services.