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How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink

How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink

A clogged kitchen sink is a huge inconvenience as it hinders your ability to do the dishes and clean your produce or vegetable. Fortunately, you do not need to call a plumber to fix the sink. This article outlines several methods you can use to unclog a blocked kitchen drain in minutes.

How do you unclog a sink with standing water?

Here are some easy clogged kitchen sink home remedies you can use to unclog your kitchen sink;

1. Use boiling water

Boiling water will help break down grease, soap residue, and other debris stuck in your drain. To unclog your kitchen sink;

  • Bring half a gallon of water to a boil on your stove or use a kettle to heat the water.
  • Pour the boiling water directly into the drain opening.
  • Turn on the faucet to see if the water drains steadily.
  • Repeat the process if it’s still draining slowly or standing still in the sink.

Note: Don’t try this method if your drain is attached to PVC pipes, as the boiling water could melt or damage the plastic.

2. Turn on the garbage disposal

If your sink has a garbage disposal, it could cause drainage issues. Turning the clog on will usually break up the blockage if the clog is in the disposal. However, if your garbage disposal is overheated or dysfunctional, it may not turn on. To fix this, activate the reset switch at the side or bottom of the unit for an easy reboot. After resetting the disposal, try turning it on again to clear the clog.

Check this too: How Can I Make My Stainless Steel Sink Look New Again?

If you turn on the disposal and hear a low humming sound, the unit could be jammed or broken. Turn off power before troubleshooting or fixing your garbage disposal. And DO NOT stick your hand in the garbage disposal.

3. Plunge away the clog

Unclogging a kitchen sink with a plunger is easy. For best results, use a flat-bottomed plunger to unclog your sink. Follow these steps;

  • Fill the sink with hot water until it’s about halfway full, creating a seal around the drain.
  • Position the plunger over the drain and begin pumping up and down quickly several times.
  • Remove the plunger and wait to see if the water drains.
  • Repeat the process until the water drains freely.

4. Use baking soda and vinegar

This is the best method for unclogging a sink naturally. However, it may not work for intense clogs. Follow these steps;

  • Remove standing water from the sink with a cup or bowl.
  • Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, using a spatula or spoon to push the powder down the drain if necessary.
  • Pour one cup of white vinegar down the drain opening.
  • Place a stopper or cover on the drain to seal the opening.
  • Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the cover and run hot tap water down the drain.
  • Use boiling water to break up more intense clogs.

5. Use a plumber’s snake

Use a coiled drain snake that reaches down into the drain. Once the snake hits an obstruction, you can crank the handle to dislodge the debris and pull it out of the drain. Opt for an electric plumber snake as it will be more effective at tackling clogged drains.

You can create a makeshift plumber snake with a wire coat hanger. First, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to unwind the hanger and keep the hooked end so you can use it to grab onto the debris. Next, use the pliers to adjust the angle of the hook so that it can fit through the drain opening.

6. Clean the P-trap

If the water is still not draining correctly, there might be a blockage in the P-trap, the elbow-shaped pipe under your sink.

The fix is disassembling the pipe to clean out the gunk causing the blockage. Note: wear gloves, goggles, and towels to avoid spraying when you open the P-trap.

To clean your P-trap;

  • Place a bucket underneath the pipe to catch any backed-up water or debris.
  • Unscrew the connectors on the trap that hold the curved piece to the vertical and horizontal drain pipe. There should be a slip nut on either end of the P-trap.
  • Remove the P-trap and clean all debris, grime, and residue pipe.
  • Reconnect the trap.
  • Turn on the faucet to run water down the drain.

If the drainage is still clogged;

  • Remove the P-trap.
  • Remove the horizontal pipe that connects the system to the wall.
  • Feed a plumber’s snake, auger, or coat hanger into the wall pipe.
  • Use your plumber’s snake to pull the blockage out from the pipe when you feel an obstruction.
  • Repeat the process until you remove all debris.
  • Reassemble the pipes and P-trap, tightening the connectors by hand. (Pro tip from Home Depot: Do not over-tighten, as this may cause the connectors to crack.)
  • Run hot water to flush the drain.

Note: check under the sink while the water’s running to ensure there isn’t any leaking from the pipes. If you do notice leaks, make sure all the connectors are tightened.

What can you pour down a kitchen sink to unclog it?

Here are some products you can use to unclog a kitchen drain;

Caustic soda

Caustic soda, or sodium hydroxide, is an extremely strong chemical that will dissolve most blockages clogging up your sink. It is readily available and can be purchased at most hardware stores.

  • Dilute 3 cups (750 ml) of caustic soda with 3/4 gallon (3 L) of cold water in a large mop bucket.
  • Mix the chemical and the water together with a wooden spoon.
  • Do not use any container or utensil you plan to use for food later.
  • Do not stir the water and caustic soda together with your hands.
  • The water and caustic soda should begin to “fizz” and heat up as you mix the two.
  • Carefully pour the solution directly into the clogged sink drain. Let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes without touching it.
  • Boil 1 gallon (4 L) of water on the stove and use it to flush the drain.
  • Repeat the procedure if necessary.


If you are connected to a public sewer system and not to a well or septic tank, you can use bleach to clean and deodorize a clogged sink.

  • Pour 1 cup (250 ml) of undiluted bleach directly down the sink drain.
  • Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Turn your sink on and let the water rush into the drain.
  • Ensure that the water is as hot as possible and as strong or rapid as possible.
  • Let it run up to 5 minutes.
  • If your sink begins to back up and fill with water, turn the water off and let it drain before attempting to unclog the sink again.

Note: Do not use bleach if you use a septic tank. Bleach kills bacteria living in the tank, but the bacteria it kills eat solid waste, preventing the lines from clogging.

Drain cleaner

Commercial drain cleaners can be purchased at most grocery stores, and there are caustic, acid, and enzymatic cleaners available. Follow the instructions on the label carefully when you use a drain cleaner.

There are three main types of drain cleaners;

  1. Caustic drain cleaners rely on chemical reactions caused by hydroxide ions.
  2. Acid drain cleaners use a chemical reaction between hydrogen ions and the material clogging the sink. As a result, acid cleaners tend to be harsher than caustic drain cleaners.
  3. Enzymatic cleaners are the least potent and rely on bacterial enzymes to eat away organic blockages.


  • Do NOT use a chemical cleaner if you have a garbage disposal, as they can ruin the blades and spray back into your sink.
  • Do NOT use a liquid chemical cleaner if you have a complete clog rather than just a problem with slow draining. Toxic chemicals can back up in the sink, stagnant water and cause a potential health hazard.

Note: Read the label carefully to determine which cleaner is right for your particular type of blockage. Always read the label carefully and use the cleaner exactly as instructed. Chemical cleaners can be harmful if misused.

What is the best product to unclog a kitchen sink?

Pequa Drain Opener is the Best product to unclog a kitchen sink based on consumer reviews. It is highly rated for both commercial and residential use. The product comes in a 64-ounce bottle, and it can dissolve all organic matter, including hair and grease. In addition, this fast-acting drain opener is environmentally safe and won’t harm your pipes.

How to unclog a kitchen sink with a garbage disposal

You should not use chemical drain cleaners to unclog a sink with the garbage disposal. This is because they can corrode and damage your pipes. The chemicals can damage the plastic components and metal blades within the unit.

Note: Ensure your garbage disposal is unplugged before you start working on it. Do not attempt to work on a drain where the garbage disposal has power.

To unclog the sink;

  • Pour ¼ cup of baking soda followed by ½ cup vinegar.
  • Let the solution fizz in the drain for a few minutes before flushing hot water down the sink.
  • Allow water to run for a few minutes to clear the clog.
  • Repeat as necessary.
  • If this doesn’t work, use a flashlight to peer into the drain.
  • There may be a foreign object in the drain, such as a bone or utensil.
  • Use a pair of tongs or needle-nose pliers to remove any items clogging the sink.
  • Plug the garbage disposal back in, run water and turn it on.

If you still have a block, use a plunger to attempt to loosen the clog.

  • Place the plunger directly over the sink drain and completely covers the drain.
  • Add water to the sink so the lip of the plunger is covered in water.
  • Then vigorously plunge the drain for a minute.
  • Lift the plunger and check for water flow.
  • If it is still clogged, repeat the process a few times to see if you can release the clog.
  • After unclogging, run hot water for a few minutes to carry away built-up residue.

Note; If you have a dishwasher, it’s important to clamp the end of the dishwasher line where it enters the disposal to prevent the hose from popping off the disposal nozzle as you plunge the sink drain.