HomeHome ImprovementHow to Unclog a Sink Drain 

How to Unclog a Sink Drain 

Sometimes a clogged drain just needs a little extra help to break up hair, soap residue, or other small blockages. If your clogged sink has metal pipes, try boiling water. 

Mix caustic soda and water to create a bubbling solution and pour it down the drain. This will break up clogs and eliminate foul odors. 


You’ve likely used a plunger to unclog your toilet, but it’s also a great way to clear a sink. First, remove the plug and clean the drain opening and the overflow opening. Seal the hole with a piece of cloth. Then, fill the sink with water and place the plunger over the drain. Pump vigorously several times. 

If this isn’t enough to break up the clog, try pouring boiling water down the drain. You can also try soda crystals (available at most grocery stores) mixed with vinegar. These are effective on metal pipes, but you should avoid them on PVC because they may dissolve the pipe liners

If these methods don’t work, it may be time for a drain snake. These long metal spiral tools have a hand-crank that lets you drill down into the clog and unscrew it. If you can’t find yours, rent one from most hardware and big box stores. They don’t cost much and are fairly inexpensive. 

Plumber’s Snake 

If a standard plunger doesn’t loosen your sink drain clog, try using a plumber’s snake (also known as a drain auger). This tool is available at most hardware stores. Loosen the thumb screw holding the cable to the snake’s housing and insert the head of the snake into the drain or into an access point on the sink wall (if you removed the p trap). 

Plug in the power auger and position it near the pipe. Most models have a foot pedal you can step on to turn the cable and feed it deeper into the drain. Be careful not to use too much force, as this can damage the pipe entrance or the snake’s head. 

Uncoil the snake’s handle and start feeding it into the pipe. Slowly crank the handle and rotate it consistently. When you feel resistance, it’s likely that you’ve reached the clog. Continue feeding the snake and rotating the handle until you no longer feel resistance or when the clog is completely gone. 

Wire Coat Hanger 

If a plunger doesn’t do the trick, or you don’t have a plumber’s snake, try using a wire coat hanger to dislodge a sink clog. Use a straightened hanger with a tiny hook at the end, and bend it into a loop that will fit down the drain. Fish out hair, soap scum, and other debris that’s stuck inside the drain. Once you’ve removed all the visible blockage, flush with a pot of boiling water to see whether that clears up your clog.

Before you use this method, remove the p-trap, which is the u-shaped piece that connects the sink to the plumbing line that runs down the wall or floor. This might reveal a blockage that’s not in the drain itself, but in the p-trap. Next, pour about a cup of baking soda followed by an equal amount of white vinegar down the drain. The foamy chemical reaction will break up a minor clog. 

Salt and Boiling Water 

Many clogs result from grease or hair buildup, which can be dislodged using the same household items that store-bought chemical drain cleaners use. Instead of grabbing harsh chemicals, try mixing baking soda and salt in the ratio 2:1. Pour the mixture into the drain and let it fizz for at least an hour before running hot water down the sink. 

If you suspect a severe clog, remove the P-trap by loosening the slip nuts on the wall pipe and empty the contents into a bucket. Next, feed a plumber’s snake, auger or makeshift wire coat hanger down the pipe and hook any lingering debris. 

If you can’t clear the clog, bring a kettle’s worth of boiling water to the drain and slowly pour it down, making sure not to splash yourself. Flush the drain with more hot water to see if it cleared the clog. If not, it’s probably time to call in a professional. For help with blocked drains in Adelaide, call a professional plumber and your sink will be unclogged in no time.