If you’re leaning over a sink full of water sprinkled with toothpaste froth by the time you finish brushing your teeth, you’re dealing with a very frequent problem: Bathroom Sink Won’t Drain. While inconvenient, most homeowners can easily fix a slow sink drain on their own. A slimy mixture of soap scum, hair, sticky styling products, and/or thick shaving foam has developed on the drain walls and is the culprit. While you may be tempted to use commercial drain openers straight away, keep in mind that these harsh and corrosive chemicals might irritate your skin and eyes, as well as cause damage to ancient pipes. Because clearing the obstruction often does not necessitate the use of chemicals, we recommend taking precautions and following the instructions given here.
Remove the stopper and clean it
The sink stopper—the small elevated metal device used to plug the sink’s drain on command—tends to catch hair, soap, and other debris due to its position at the mouth of the drain and the metal “tail” that extends a couple of inches into the pipe. When this imprisoned ball of filth becomes too large, wham, you’ve got a slow sink drain.
In many modern sinks, the stopper can be easily removed by unscrewing it. However, in some older sinks, the stopper is held in place by a short tether. If you have the latter type of sink, remove the stopper for cleaning as follows:
- You’ll usually find a short rod with a nut and clip connecting to the pipe underneath the sink, precisely where the basin connects to the pipe.
- Turn the nut to detach it—if it’s tight, you may need pliers—squeeze the clip to release the rod, and push the stopper out of the drain.
- If the stopper is covered in sticky slime and hair, wipe it down with a paper towel or rag to remove all of the residues.
Sludge should be melted
The inside of the sink’s drainpipe will become sticky, narrowing the hole and slowing drainage. Using only basic household pantry goods here’s an easy way to loosen built-up gunk in the pipe.
- One-half cup baking soda, followed by one-half cup white vinegar, should be poured into the drain; the fizzing and bubbling action can aid to break up tiny obstructions.
- Block the drain with a little towel to prevent the chemical reaction from exploding.
- Allow 15 minutes to pass.
- Pour a kettle full of boiling water down the drain and run hot water for a few minutes to flush the melted slime out even more.
Remove any debris
If cleaning the drain walls didn’t solve the problem, use a small hair clog tool (also known as a “drain-cleaning tool”) to remove any collected debris.
This tool, which is usually constructed of flexible plastic, has a long stem with a handle on one end and small barbs on the other end for pulling hair and other debris from inside a clogged sink drain (view example on Amazon).
Insert the plastic line down the drain with the stopper removed, wriggle it around, and lift it out often to wipe off everything you hook. Continue doing so until you can’t get any more blockages out.
Make use of a plunger
A piece of drain-cleaning equipment may not be able to reach a clog that is further down the drain. A sink plunger may be useful. For the best results, follow these steps:
- A little rag can be used to plug the overflow hole in the sink.
- Place your cup-shaped sink plunger over the sink drain, not a toilet plunger, which has a flange for sealing a toilet’s exit.
- Pour enough water into the basin to cover the plunger’s cup.
- Now, in short, fast strokes, plunge up and down to force as much air as possible down the drain.
- If the blockage is dislodged, the water in the sink should drain swiftly.
It’s a snake
If you’ve tried everything else and still have a slow sink drain, it’s time to get a little more aggressive. A drain snake, also known as a drain auger, can be purchased from a home improvement store (or check out our roundup of the best drain snakes available for purposes like this). This metal cable ranges in length from three to twenty-five feet, with a spiral catch at the other end, allowing you to loosen clogs that are out of reach of a sink-cleaning tool or plunger.
Remove the stopper and insert the snake’s tip into the sink drain. Feed the snake down the pipe, retracting it every now and then to wipe away any accumulated grime. (Keep a trashcan nearby since whatever comes out of the drain will need to be thrown away.)
If you feel a blockage in the pipe, turn the handle of the drain snake to break through and gently wiggle the tool from side to side to trap the obstruction. Remove the snake and its contents and flush the drain with hot water once the snake has a little give again.
Look for the trap
A U-shaped curve in the pipe can be found beneath your sink. While the P-purpose trap is to keep a small pool of water in the drain to prevent sewer gas from backing up into your home, it’s also a great place to collect loose cash, lost jewelry, debris, and even misplaced toys.
- Turn off the water supply to the sink first to clear the P-trap. Remove any stuff stored under the sink while you’re at it. Only a bucket should be positioned precisely beneath the P-trap to collect unclean water.
- Slip nuts at each end of the curved pipe hold the P-trap in place in most homes. These are normally made of plastic, however, in older homes, they may be made of chrome. Twist the slip nuts counterclockwise using your fingers or a wrench, then lift the P-trap section of the pipe away once the slip nuts are loosened.
- To clear any apparent blockages, use gloved fingers, a firm brush, or an unbent coat hanger.
When you’re finished, reconnect the pipes, tighten the slip nuts, and remember to turn the water back on!
Maintain the flow of things with some preventative maintenance
Because a slow-draining sink is an issue that worsens over time, you may reduce your chances of making a day of it by taking a few simple steps.
- When you discover stray hair strands in the sink, instead of rinsing them down the drain, dump them in the garbage. Similarly, if you have a lot of toothpaste or soap, wipe it up rather than rinsing it away.
- Cover the stopper with a plastic or wire mesh hair catcher to capture hair before it goes down the drain during your grooming routine if long hair frequently finds up in the sink.
- Before washing up, toss any dirt or other thick, heavy, or sticky things into the garbage.
- Cleaning the sink stopper should be a frequent component of your bathroom cleaning routine. Lift it out once a week to clean away hair, filth, and residue.
- To assist melt soap scum and sludge, flush the drain with very hot water on a regular basis.
- Remove the stopper and pour a tablespoon of table salt and a quarter-cup of white vinegar into the drain once or twice a month, then flush the mixture away with hot water. This mixture should dislodge tenacious muck before it becomes clogged.
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