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If water drains from your bathroom sink slower than usual, a clog in the drain could be developing. Hair and soap scum build up over time in your sink drain. Even a slowly draining sink can cause standing water to develop.
Unclogging a bathroom sink is an uncomplicated DIY fix. You can solve a clogging problem even if you've never taken on a plumbing repair. Read this guide to learn more about how to unclog a bathroom sink drain.
Why Your Bathroom Sink is Not Draining
If the water in your sink isn’t draining well after a minute or two, you have what is commonly referred to as a slow running drain. A variety of issues can cause a slow running drain in a bathroom sink. Strands of hair, a buildup of soap scum and larger bits of debris can catch onto drain parts create a mass over time that blocks the drain flow.
Many people put off dealing with a slow drain. Figuring out the best way to unclog a sink doesn’t have to be complicated. Use the steps below if your bathroom sink drains slowly and you’re ready to finally find a fix.
Unclog a Sink With Boiling Water
There’s no single solution for clearing a clogged bathroom sink. However, there are a variety of options you can try, starting with the easiest ones that require only a few household items. If those don’t work, move on to more involved options below to fix your clogged bathroom sink.
Boiling water can crack porcelain, so this fix is only for sinks not made of porcelain.
- Allow your sink to drain completely. This may take some time if you have a slow running drain. You need to start with a clear drain, so avoid using that sink beforehand.
- Fill a tea kettle or pot with water. Bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Carefully pour the water into the drain. Do this slowly. Ideally, the water will start to clear the clog almost immediately and you’ll be able to add the rest of the water without filling the basin.
- Allow the water to drain. If the bathroom sink is not draining, you can repeat this process as needed. If there’s no change after repeating the procedure, you’ll need to try another method.
Unclog a Sink With Vinegar and Baking Soda
Vinegar and baking soda have long been effective in clearing stubborn drains. This solution is also safe and household friendly compared to chemical-based drain openers.
- Allow your sink to drain completely. This may take time, but it will eventually clear.
- Pour 1/4-cup of baking soda into your drain. You can use a funnel to make sure all of the baking soda goes down the drain.
- Add 1 1/4-cup of white vinegar to the drain using the same funnel.
- Use a sink stopper to plug the drain. If you don’t have a sink stopper, a towel can be used as well. Let this mixture work in the drain for about 20 minutes.
- Pour boiling water down the drain slowly. Repeat this process if necessary.
Unclog a Sink With a Plunger
A plunger is a useful household tool that you may already have around the house. Smaller plungers should be used for this method. Here’s how to unclog a bathroom sink with a plunger:
- Remove the top of the sink hole cover or stopper. Most stoppers will come right out when you pull up and turn or unscrew the stopper to the left. Put the stopper somewhere safe.
- Add a little bit of water to the sink to cover the drain by about an inch. Avoid completely filling the basin.
- Center the plunger over the drain and apply force to create a strong seal. Pump the plunger up and down for about 15 seconds.
- Remove the plunger. In many cases, you’ll see that the water clears from your drain very quickly. You can also inspect the drain with a flashlight to see if a clog is visible.
- Test your drain. You may need to use the plunger again to clear stubborn clogs.
Unclog a Sink With a Drain Snake
Sometimes a bathroom sink not draining properly doesn't always respond to boiling water, vinegar and baking soda or the use of plunger. In this case, you’ll need drain cleaning tools that have the power to clear the clog.
A plumber’s snake or drain snake is a flexible auger that is very effective for clearing a difficult drain clog. Here’s how you can use a plumbing snake for a bathroom sink not draining:
- Locate the P trap under your sink. This is a two-piece pipe with a curve toward the bottom of the assembly. Place a bucket beneath your sink’s P trap.
- Remove the P trap. Depending on the type your sink uses, you’ll need a screwdriver to remove the screws or a wrench to remove slip nuts on each end of the pipe. Remove your P trap slowly, as water may be released when you disconnect it.
- Check the P trap to see if the clog is located inside. If so, you can use a bent wire hanger to remove the clog. If not, you’ll need to use your plumbing snake to access the clog.
- Following the manufacturer’s directions for use, insert the plumbing snake into the pipe opening, continuing until you feel you’ve hit something. In most cases, this is the clog that needs to be removed.
- Secure the plumbing snake by tightening the nut assembly near the handle of the snake. Now you can begin to twist the snake in order to grab the clog and clear it from your drain. When the clog is cleared, you won’t feel resistance.
- Secure the P trap back in place and check the sink. If the clog has been cleared, your sink will function as normal.
Unclog a Sink With a Wet-Dry Vac
You may need to use suction to clear a bathroom sink not draining properly. A wet-dry vacuum comes in handy in this case. Here’s how to unclog a stubborn bathroom sink with a wet-dry vacuum to get your sink up and running again.
- Place a bucket beneath your P trap.
- Remove the P trap with a screwdriver or wrench, depending on the fastener type used on your model. Keep the screws or fasteners nearby.
- Attach the wet-dry vac hose to the stopper pipe. This is the vertical pipe that goes up to your sink basin. Connect the other end of the wet dry vac hose to the vacuum.
- Adjust your vacuum to the “wet” or “liquid” setting.
- Plug the drain with the sink stopper. If your sink doesn’t have a stopper, you can use a towel or rag to help create a seal.
- Turn on your wet-dry vac. Pulse the power on and off a few times to help get the clog moving. In some cases, the clog will come out completely into the vacuum. Other times, you’ll need to manually remove the clog from the end of the drain opening.
- Reinstall the P trap and check the sink.
Tips for Keeping Your Bathroom Sink Clear
A clogged bathroom sink can take time to clear. You might even have to try multiple methods. Avoiding clogs in the first place can help you prevent this task. Here are some tips to help you avoid a bathroom sink clog in the future:
- Avoid flushing hair from shaving down the drain. Small hairs may not seem problematic, but over time, they can build up and clog your sink.
- Clean your sink’s stopper regularly. Stoppers can collect hair and debris, but this is relatively easy to remove. Left unchecked, it will eventually make its way down the drain.
- Add a grate or screen in high-use sinks. These can trap hair and soap scum before they enter your drain system.
- Finish up with hot water. Hot water from the tap can keep buildup at bay.
- Use boiling water periodically to break down soap scum and other bits of small debris that can create problematic clogs down the road. You can also use baking soda and vinegar regularly to keep your sink from backing up.
Learning how to unclog a bathroom sink is easily within your grasp. With basic household items, you’ll be able to clear most clogs in a matter of minutes. Consider drain cleaning equipment rental from The Home Depot for more stubborn clogs. If the blockage is especially tough, call plumbing services from The Home Depot to get your sink in tip-top shape again.