Household maintenance is anything but glitzy and glamorous. However, when things go wrong, the best of us have to roll up our sleeves and deal with icky problems. One of the worst has to be clogged pipes. If the water in your sink is failing to drain, the chances are that you’ve got a nasty blockage somewhere down the line.
Wondering how to unblock a sink? We’ve got you covered. There are three savvy methods you can give a whirl. Here’s what you need to know and how to get started...
How to unblock a sink (3 quick methods!)
1. How to unblock a sink with a plunger
Got a plunger? Hurrah! That will make unblocking your sink straightforward. If you don’t know how to use a plunger correctly and need some help, this one’s for you. Here’s a short guide that will help you deal with the problem quickly and easily. Let’s get started.
- Soda crystals
- Old cloth
- Rubber gloves
Before you get started, you need to put on the rubber gloves! You’re about to start digging around in your pipes and want to protect yourself from the nastiness.
- Start by unscrewing the plug. You can then see any bits and pieces stuck in there. If you’re in luck, you may just have a surface-level pipe blockage. Clean out the debris and see if it makes any difference.
- Next, it’s time to use the plunger! Pour some water into the sink so that there is an airtight seal. If the water doesn’t do the trick, you can use an old cloth to make things airtight.
- Wondering how to use a plunger? Place the head of the plunger over the plug-hole. Push the plunger down while holding the cloth around its edges. Doing so will ensure that you have a good seal.
- Bring the plunger up. You may hear a gurgling at this point, which could mean that the method is working. You can repeat this process a few times.
- The plunger should have moved some of the debris stuck in your pipes. Now, it’s time to unclog them. Take the plunger away from the sink and boil the kettle. Slowly pour the hot water down the pipes and see if it drains.
Tip: The hot water should help to shift and/or dissolve the debris you have unlodged with your plunger action.
- If the above method hasn’t worked and your sink is still clogged, it’s time to try something new. Wait for the water to cool down and then remove any that has not drained from the sink (you may need to use a bowl).
- Boil some hot water and, in a jug, mix in some soda crystals. Pour the contents down the plug and wait. The theory is that the mixture will help to remove any grime and debris in the pipes.
- Rinse with hot water. At this point, if the method has worked, you should find that the sink is unblocked.Of course, if the pipes are still clogged, try a different approach.
2. How to unblock a sink with baking soda and vinegar
Don’t have a plunger to hand? Nightmare. Fortunately, if you’re wondering how to unblock a sink without a plunger, we can help. Here’s one of the most popular ways to unblock a sink using household products. Don’t worry. You don’t need any special equipment to get started. Here’s how it's done...
- Baking soda
- Start by cleaning the top of the plug. Cover your hand with the cloth and pull out any debris you can see. In a kitchen sink, you may see pieces of food. On the other hand, when you’re unblocking a bathroom sink, you’re much more likely to find hair in there.
- When you’ve given the surface level of the plug a clean, it’s time to get started. Pour a small amount of baking soda down the sink.
- Next, follow the baking soda with some vinegar. When mixed together, these two ingredients create a chemical reaction and expand. With that in mind, the theory here is that the expansion of the two ingredients will dislodge anything trapped in your pipes.
- Rinse with water. If this method doesn’t work the first time around, you can try it again.
3. How to unblock a sink by removing and cleaning the u-bend
When you’ve tried the two above methods, it’s time to look at another area of your sink. Often enough, the u-bend collects debris and small pieces. When this happens, your sink can’t drain properly and you will end up with a real blockage. Here’s how you can take out the u-bend and clean it for yourself. (It’s easier than you think!)
- Plastic gloves
Once again, before you start, you need to put on the plastic gloves to protect your hands.
- First things first, you need to find the u-bend. If there is a cupboard below your kitchen sink, you may be able to see it there. However, when it comes to bathroom sinks, it can be trickier to find. You may need to remove some tiles or fixtures to get to it.
Hint: the u-bend is what it says on the tin! It’s the part of the pipe directly below the sink that is shaped like a letter ‘u’.
- Next, put the bucket directly under the u-bend. The chances are that the pipe will be clogged up with water. You need something there to catch anything that falls out.
- Use the screwdriver to unscrew the u-bend section of the pipes. Careful as you remove this area as debris and dirty water may come out either end.
- When you have the u-bend, it’s time to unclog it yourself. You can use your hands or any other equipment to get rid of the debris and dirt inside this part of the pipe. Simple.
- Screw the u-bend back on tight. Then test your sink to see whether the pipes are still blocked. If the problem was in the u-bend, you should find that this method unclogs it.
Note: If none of the above methods work, it’s time to get a professional on the job. Sometimes, clogged pipes can’t be easily unclogged and call for an expert. Call out a local plumber and have them deal with the problem.
How do you unblock a sink naturally?
Worried about harsh chemicals? Using natural alternatives, such as baking soda, soda crystals and vinegar, could be the answer. Of course, the most natural way to unblock a sink is to use no chemicals at all. Instead, you can rely on a plunger to do the hard work here.
Does boiling water unclog drains?
Sometimes! Before you do anything else, one of the easiest approaches you can try is using boiling water. While the chances of this method unblocking your sink are low, it should always be your first port of call. For instance, should you have a small blockage, you may find that the hot water does the trick and moves things along fast.
Start by boiling a kettle of water and then pouring it down your drain. Wait a moment and then flush with cold water. Needless to say, you should take care when you’re using boiling water. Check whether the drains are unclogged before you move on to other options.
Will baking soda and vinegar ruin your pipes?
One of the approaches we have recommended here is to use baking soda and vinegar. Worried that this combination will damage your pipes? The good news is that this home-based chemical remedy is safe. When mixed together, the baking soda and vinegar react, which creates pressure. However, this is not strong enough to cause damage.
How do you unblock a sink without vinegar?
Out of vinegar? Don’t panic! There are plenty of ways to unblock a sink without vinegar. For example, you might choose to use a commercial product to unblock a sink. Equally, many people find that using a plunger works well as does draining the u-bend. Choosing which method works for you depends on the type of blockage and what you have to hand.
What is the best drain unblocker?
Looking for a chemical product? There are plenty of drain unblockers on the market. According to the Consumer Lab 2020 report, the best drain unblockers include Mr. Muscle Max Gel Unblocker, HG Liquid Drain Unblocker and Scotch Corporation Liquid Instant Hair Grease Remover for Drains. We'd suggest reading customer reviews before deciding which product is right for your clogged drains.
What is your number 1 tip for unblocking a sink? Let us know in the comments below!