You can rid a kitchen sink of a minor clog using inexpensive tools and elbow grease. We’ll show you three tried-and-true techniques: plunging, cleaning the trap and using an auger or snake. If you’ve poured a chemical drain cleaner in the sink, don’t use any of these methods. The chemicals may splash, causing injuries to your skin and eyes.
Take the Plunge
Start your efforts by plunging. Use a plunger with a large rubber bell and a sturdy handle. Before getting to work on the drain, clamp the drain line to the dishwasher. If you don’t close the line, plunging could force dirty water into the dishwasher.
- Fill the sink with several inches of water. This ensures a good seal over the drain.
- If you have a double sink, plug the other drain with a wet rag or strainer.
- Insert the plunger at an angle, making sure water, not air, fills the bell.
- Plunge forcefully several times. Pop off the plunger.
- Repeat plunging and popping several times until the water drains.
If the clog remains, it’s time to move to the second method: clearing the P-trap.
Clean the Trap
The P-trap is the curved pipe under the sink. The trap arm is the straight pipe that attaches to the P-trap and runs to the drain stub-out on the wall. Grease and debris can block this section of pipe. Here’s how to unclog a kitchen sink by cleaning out the trap:
- Remove as much standing water from the sink as possible.
- Place a bucket under the pipe to catch the water as it drains.
- Unscrew the slip nuts at both ends of the P-trap. Use slip-joint pliers and work carefully to avoid damaging the pipes or fasteners.
- If you find a clog, remove it. Reassemble the trap.
- If the P-trap isn’t clogged, remove the trap arm and look for clogs there. Run the tip of a screwdriver into the drain stub-out to fetch nearby gunk.
If you still haven’t found a clog, don’t put the trap back together yet. It’s time to learn how to unclog a kitchen sink by using an auger.
Spin the Auger
With the trap disassembled, you’re ready to crank the auger down the drain line.
- Pull a 12-inch length of cable from the auger and tighten the setscrew.
- Insert the auger into the drain line, easing it into the pipe.
- Feed the cable into the line until you feel an obstruction. Pull out more cable if you need to.
- If you come to a clog, crank and push the cable until you feel it break through. The cable will lose tension when this happens.
- Crank counterclockwise to pull out the cable, catching the grime and debris with a rag as the cable retracts.
You may need to auger the drain a few times until the clog is gone. When you’re through, put the trap back together. Test your work by running water. If your sink is still clogged, it’s time to call a plumber.
Once you’ve removed a clog, keep your drains cleaner by periodically pouring ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of cleaning vinegar down the drain. Let the mixture stand for several minutes to a half hour, then run a gallon of warm water to flush out any remaining grease.
Some clogs are stubborn and need the attention of a professional plumber. Don’t hesitate to contact us for help with clogs.