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Blocked Drains: How to Unclog Your Kitchen Sink

water flowing into kitchen sink drain

Fix that clogged kitchen sink fast before it becomes a real annoyance. We’ve gathered here several ways to unclog those blocked drains, which you could try in the order presented.

WORK SAFE: Before You Begin

These DIY tips may not work if your main sewer line is the problem (that is, all drains in your house are affected). In that case, you’ll need a plumber.

⚠ Warning: Do not proceed if you've just poured drain cleaners into the sink, as the chemicals they contain could cause serious burns to your skin.

protective gloves and goggles on wooden board construction

Otherwise, slip on those rubber gloves and wear your goggles for protection, then let’s get on with it. Ready?

detail of the plumbing system under a modern kitchen sink, with a plumbers tool tray and equipment

Drain Unblocker #1: GARBAGE DISPOSAL FIX

If the garbage disposal is clogged, follow the steps in the instruction manual that came with it. If the blockage remains, try these steps:

  1. Shut off the power switch of the garbage disposal.
  2. Shine a flashlight into the unit and use pliers to try pulling out any stuck object.
  3. If no object is removed, use a long dowel or wooden spoon to move the garbage disposal blades side to side.
  4. After removing an object or being able to move the blades, wait around 15 minutes for the disposal motor to cool.
  5. Turn the power back on then push the reset button.

blue hanger isolated on white background

Drain Unblocker #2: BENT HANGER TRICK

This could be your magic spell if you have a double-bowl kitchen sink.

    1. Get a coat hanger wire and bend a small hook on its end that will fit through the basket strainer.
    2. Push the bent hanger hook first into the drain.
    3. When you feel the clog, twist and pull the hanger wire until you have it out.
    4. If you are not able to remove the obstruction, try steps 2 and 3 one more time. If it still does not work, read on for other solutions below.

plunger in the hands of a plumber

Drain Unblocker #3: PLUNGE, PUMP, AND POP

Here's how to use a sink pump or plunger on your clogged sink drain:

  1. Clear the area over and around the drain, ensuring that nothing is blocking it.
  2. For those with a dishwasher, clamp the drain hose first. Fill the sink with up to 8cm to 10cm of water. Seal the other drain opening tightly with a wet rag.
  3. Plunge the sink pump vigorously over the drain for several times, forcing water (rather than air) into the drain. Make sure you’ve got the whole drain covered.
  4. On the last pump, pop the plunger off the drain for a sudden added pressure.
  5. If the water does not flow down or moves slowly, repeat the steps above. If the water still does not drain after a couple of tries, move on to the other solutions below.


Drain Unblocker #4: STUFF A SNAKE IN THE SINK

You can use a drain auger or plumber snake in this manner:

  1. Uncoil the auger and extend it down the drain.
  2. When you feel resistance, move the coil up and down to remove any blockage.
  3. Remove the drain auger.
  4. Turn on the tap to check if the drain has been unclogged.
  5. If the clog remains, repeat steps 1 to 4.
  6. When the blockage has been cleared, pull out the snake and rinse off with running water as you do so, then wipe with a rag.

p-trap and plumbing under a kitchen sink

Drain Unblocker #5: CLEAN UP THE P-TRAP

  1. Clear the area under the sink and place a bucket directly below the P-trap.
  2. Wear a pair of plastic or rubber gloves.
  3. Loosen the slip nuts and wiggle the trap free. If the nuts are hard to loosen try to gently use pliers.
  4. Remove the P-trap (the curved part). Your bucket should catch any flowing water.
  5. Thoroughly clean the interior of the trap using a straightened coat hanger wire or a large bottle brush.
  6. As you clean, check if the washers are still soft and supple. If not, you may need to replace them.
  7. If the trap was clear and did not have any clog to start with, insert a small drain snake into the pipe in the wall. Move the snake in and out with a clockwise twisting motion.
  8. Remove the snake.
  9. Reassemble the P-trap, making sure you don’t tighten the connections too much.

After all the DIY solutions are done and your sink drain is still clogged, it’s time to call in a plumber. But if you’ve succeeded with one of the fixes, we’ll be happy to hear about it. Got other ideas for blocked drains? Just send us a quick message below.