How to Unclog a Sink Drain


Drain clogs are part of life and they happen, but when your sink drain backs up, you want it cleared fast. Before you reach for an easy remedy, however, it’s important to determine if it’s a local problem or a system-wide issue. Let’s take a look at what the difference is between a small problem and a more serious issue, home remedies you can try for localized problems, and when to call a plumber.

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Localized Problem or More Serious Issue?

When your sink backs up, it can either be a local issue or a system-wide issue.

Localized Problem

Localized plumbing issues mean that any issue you’re having is found in only one area, such as one sink out of all the sinks in your home or commercial property. Depending on the issue, you may be able to resolve it on your own.

System-Wide Issue

If the issue is found in multiple or all fixtures throughout your home or commercial property (sinks, toilets, etc.), you may be facing a larger problem that’s affecting your entire plumbing system, such as a clogged main drain or sewer line. Rather than attempting to fix it yourself, it’s best to call a plumber.

Home Remedies for Localized Clogged Drains

If just one sink in your home is clogged, you may be able to fix this on your own using one of the following techniques:

Baking Soda and Vinegar

For mild blockages, a simple solution of baking soda and vinegar might do the trick. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain and follow by pouring a healthy dose of white vinegar on top. The solution will bubble and may cause the blockage to dissolve.


This is one of the best methods to clear a clogged sink drain. It’s also one of the safest on your pipes and sink.

Begin by plugging the overflow outlet (for bathroom sinks) or removing the basket strainer (for kitchen sinks). If plugging the overflow outlet, use a washcloth, tape or something similar.

Next, fill the sink with a few inches of water so that the plunger can fit around the drain and be covered with water. Once the sink is filled with water, place the plunger around the sink drain and create a tight seal against the sink. Plunge the blockage. Keeping the plunger in place over the sink drain and with the tight seal, push and pull the plunger up and down to release the blockage.

Once the clog is clear, run hot water down the drain for several minutes to ensure it is fully clear, and then remove any seals you placed onto the overflow outlets.

Drain Snake

Another effective way to clear a sink clog is by using a drain snake. Also known as an auger, a drain snake is a handheld tool that makes its way down the drain and clears a blockage.

To use a drain snake, first remove the drain stopper (bathroom sink) or basket strainer (kitchen sink).

Then, place the drain snake cable into the drain’s opening. Crank the handle and allow the snake to continue down the pipe until it reaches the clog. Once it reaches the clog, apply pressure to the cable to break up the blockage.

Once the clog is clear, retract the drain snake and run hot water down the drain for several minutes to ensure it is fully clear.

Boiling Water: Only for Properties with Metal Pipes

Since most clogged drains are due to hair, grease and soap buildup, a simple remedy may be boiling water. It can work to clear the clog. Boil water in a kettle and then carefully walk the boiling water to the affected drain. Pour it down the drain slowly to avoid splashing.

Warning: Only pour boiling water directly down the drain; do not pour it directly onto the sink surface, especially if you have a porcelain sink, as it can damage the sink and its finish. Also, do not pour boiling water down the drain if you have PVC pipes as temperatures over 140 degrees Fahrenheit can cause damage.

Note: Though tempting, we advise not to use chemical drain cleaners as they can damage pipes, causing corrosion that can worsen future blockages. They are also harmful to the water supply and the environment.

If you tried these home remedies and still find yourself with a clogged drain, call the experts at Miller & Sons Plumbing. Our team of expert plumbers can help unblock any clogged drain and get your plumbing running like new again. Call us today!

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