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How To Unclog A Kitchen Sink: A Mom’s Complete DIY Guide

Clogged drains? It’s happened to the best of us, and knowing how to unclog a kitchen sink is an essential life skill we should all know about.

A woman unclogging a kitchen sink.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

Fixing pipes isn’t usually a woman’s job, but who says you can’t do it? If no one inside the house can unclog your kitchen sink and your local plumbers aren’t available, then it’s important to keep a few DIY tips. It’s something that anyone can do with the right knowledge.

Plumbing and drain problems worsen over time if you don’t fix them ASAP. Aside from being inconvenient and unsanitary, you’re also looking at costly repair fees in the future. That’s money you could spend on upgrading your kitchen or some other fun project.

9 Quick DIY Solutions For Clogged Kitchen Sinks

The kitchen sink is one of the most used drainage systems in a house, and it’s not unusual to experience problems with it from time to time. Even the most organized kitchens aren’t safe from clogging problems.

Knowing what to do when your sink clogs unexpectedly will spare you the trouble of calling a professional plumber. Here are a few different methods you can employ to get things moving again. With these quick DIY solutions, your kitchen drain will work like a well-oiled machine in no time.

Hot Water

Hot water is a great sink cleaner that doesn’t have any chemicals. Here’s what you’ll need for this method:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • A pot or a kettle

Here’s the easiest way to clean a clogged sink drain with hot water:

  1. Grab a pot or a kettle and boil half a gallon of water.
  2. Once it starts to boil, turn off the heat and wait for the water to stop bubbling. Do not pour boiling water into your drain. The temperature can destroy any PVC pipes in your plumbing.
  3. While it’s still hot, pour the water directly into your drain.
  4. Run your faucet after a few minutes and check if the water drains smoothly.

It’s a pretty simple hack, but it’s usually effective. Hot water will melt any grease or grime that’s causing the clogged drain. Since you only use water, you can use this method as often as you want. You can even do it after every time you’re done using the sink to prevent any build-up of grease.

A person holding a spoon of baking soda over a sink drain.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

Use Baking Soda and Table Salt

Baking soda, salt, and vinegar are probably some ingredients in your kitchen right now. Here’s what you need for this method:

Continue with the following steps for the baking soda and salt combo:

  1. Mix ½ cup of salt and ½ cup baking soda.
  2. Pour the mixture down the drain and leave for 30 minutes. If it’s a tough clog, you can leave it overnight.
  3. Once done, pour hot or room-temperature water down the drain. Check if this unclogs your sink.

The first time I did this method, I was surprised by the fizzy reaction it made when combined. Don’t worry! This is normal and doesn’t make harmful fumes. Baking soda and salt are organic ingredients worth keeping on hand so you can clean in a natural way.

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Combine Baking Soda and Vinegar

I rely heavily on baking soda and vinegar for a lot of home cleaning, especially regarding carpet care. Nothing beats the pair for removing diarrhea out of carpet fibers, remedying pee stains, or getting sticky syrup out. The good news is that baking soda and vinegar work great for unclogging the kitchen sink, too. Here’s what you’ll need for this method:

Here’s how you can do this method:

  1. Pour 1 cup baking soda down the drain.
  2. Follow it up with 1 cup of vinegar.
  3. Wait for 30 minutes and run your faucet to check if it fixes the problem.
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Use Dish Soap

Dish soap is intended to remove oil and grease from your dishes. As such, it can also remove the same stuff from your kitchen sink if there’s clogging. I use this method for light clogs. What’s great about dish soap is that it smells good. It’s not usually as effective as baking soda and vinegar, but the smell is much more pleasant.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your favorite dish soap
  • Hot water

Here’s how you can do this method:

  1. Clear out any standing water on your sink.
  2. Pour hot water in.
  3. Follow it up with several squeezes from your dish soap bottle. As the hot water goes down the drain, the dish soap can help clear out any residual grease as well.

Use a Plunger

Unfortunately, no amount of baking soda, vinegar, hot water, or dish soap is enough to clear out any solid blockage in your drain. In such cases, it’s time to pull out some common household tools: the toilet plunger and the plumber’s snake, also called a drain snake.

Here’s how you can use them:

  1. Fill up your sink with water, but there’s no need to let it overflow. It’s a good idea to keep the water level at just enough water to submerge the plunger. There should be a few inches of water, but no more.
  2. Use the plunger on the drain to loosen any solid blockage or gunk inside.

Of note, I find it useful to have a separate, dedicated plunger just for sinks instead of using the same toilet plunger in the bathroom and kitchen. My kitchen plunger gets stored in the pantry on the floor in the back next to the washing machine.

A plunger on a counter in a kitchen.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

Use a Plumber’s Snake

You can also use a plumber’s snake to clear out your kitchen sink. For this method, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Use a plumbing snake next if the water still doesn’t drain after plunging.
  2. Direct the plumber’s snake down the drain and push out any obstructions you feel.

Use a Wire Coat Hanger

This may sound odd, but did you know you can also use a hanger to unclog your sink? You can use a hanger if you don’t have a plumber’s snake. For this method, all you will need is a wire hanger. Here’s what to do:

  1. Untwist the wire hanger.
  2. Create a small hook at one end.
  3. Push this down your drain and wiggle until you feel resistance.
  4. Twist and jiggle the wire hanger until the obstruction clears out completely.

Clean the P-Trap

Of all the tips here, cleaning a drain trap has to be the hardest, but it’s also the most effective as it involves going through the drain pipe directly. 

One of the common causes of a kitchen sink clog is food scraps that escape from the garbage disposal and the trap. The sink trap is a small pipe that’s shaped like a S, P, or J underneath your sink. First off, let’s talk about the tools you need:

  • Bucket or bowl
  • Pipe wrench or pliers
  • Towels or rags
  • Rubber gloves
  • Pipe brush or bottle brush

All should be lying around your home hopefully. Now comes the cleaning part. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from dirty water and food debris.
  2. Cut off any water that flows to your sink.
  3. Place a bucket or bowl under the P-trap to catch anything that falls out. Clear out anything under the sink as well.
  4. Use a pipe wrench or pliers to loosen the nuts around the P-trap.
  5. Let the water and any blockage from the P-trap drain out into your bucket.
  6. Use a pipe brush or bottle brush to clean any residue left inside the trap.
  7. Screw the nuts back into the p-trap and check if your sink is unclogged.

This does take a bit more steps compared to the other DIY solutions here, but it’s still relatively easy to do. Jump to this step immediately if you ever suspect a foreign object is the source of your trouble.

Use Chemical Drain Cleaners

Chemical cleaners are a quick and excellent way to unclog your sink. I like to use this method whenever I’m short on time. However, note that repeated use of these can harm your plumbing system, so use them as a last resort.

You can buy them from any hardware store or local home improvement store. Make sure to read and follow the instructions written on the product.

A clogged sink with running water from the faucet.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

How Do You Unclog a Kitchen Sink With Standing Water?

You could end up splashing your countertops and the rest of your kitchen with standing water if you do any of the tricks above. Being forced to clean your countertops while unclogging a kitchen sink is even more work. Aside from that, using DIY solutions like hot water and the baking soda-vinegar mixture isn’t going to work if there’s excess water left in the sink.

If you want to unclog a kitchen sink with standing water, the first thing to do is to scoop out the stagnant water with a bucket. Clear everything out as much as possible before doing any of the above tricks. 

You might have trouble getting all of the water out, though. In that case, using the P-trap method to unclog your sink is better. Just make sure to have a deep basin or bucket to catch the water below so it doesn’t overflow.

Maintenance Tips To Keep Your Kitchen Sink Unclogged

  • Never pour oil or grease down your drain. The best way to dispose of used oil is to pour it into a container that can be sealed and then throw it in the trash.
  • Whenever you’re cleaning the dishes, make sure to throw out any scraps first. Small bits of leftover food might not seem much, but this can build up to a pesky blockage in your drain over time.
  • If you accidentally let food particles go down the drain regularly, use a mesh strainer to prevent this from happening again.
  • Don’t make your garbage disposal unit your end-all-be-all solution to waste. Despite the name, there are some things you should never put down there. Avoid putting the following food waste: bones (even small ones), eggshells, paper products, fruit peels and leftover fibrous fruits, coffee grounds, and meat.
  • Practice rinsing your kitchen sink with hot water at frequent intervals. 

A DIY Trick Today Keeps The Costly Plumbing Bills Away

I felt proud of myself the first time I successfully unclogged one of our sinks at home. This was after I learned how to remove oil stains from our driveway! I love life hacks like these because they help me maintain my home’s cleanliness and sanitation without spending much money. Now that you know how to unclog a kitchen sink, you might never have to call professional help ever again.

These tips will also work on bathroom sinks, garage sink, or any other sink in your home. You’ll also feel more confident knowing you can spring into action if you ever get future clogs. Save this post for later and share it with friends and family who might be struggling with the same challenge!

A woman unclogging a kitchen sink.
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How To Unclog a Kitchen Sink with Salt and Baking Soda

Discover the secrets to unclogging a kitchen sink. It’s happened to the best of us and knowing how to unclog a kitchen sink is an essential life skill.
Prep Time2 minutes
Active Time5 minutes
Additional Time30 minutes
Total Time37 minutes
Course: Cleaning
Keyword: how to unclog a kitchen sink, how to unclog a kitchen sink with standing water
Yield: 1 unclogged sink
Author: Jessica Haggard
Cost: $1

Equipment

  • 1 Pot of water

Materials

Instructions

  • Mix ½ cup table salt and ½ cup baking soda.
  • Pour the mixture down the drain and leave for 30 minutes. If it’s a tough clog, you can leave it overnight.
  • Once done, pour hot or room-temperature water down the drain. Check if this unclogs your sink.

Notes

If you want to unclog a kitchen sink with standing water, I highly suggest scooping out the water first with a bucket. Clear everything out as much as you can before doing any of the tricks in the post.
Tried this recipe?Please consider Leaving a Review!
Recipe Rating




Alice O

Friday 26th of January 2024

It worked!! I had a clogged sink and before I had a chance to decide how to tackle it, my kids turned on the faucet and filled it up with water. I scooped all the water out and left the salt/soda combo in for a couple of hours while we ran errands and then poured hot water from the kettle over it.

Easy Homemade Life

Monday 29th of January 2024

Happy to hear one of the tricks worked for you, Alice. Thanks for leaving a comment.

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