How to Unclog Your Bathroom Sink

clogged kitchen sink
Occasional sink clogs are almost unavoidable, as the pipes will inevitably encounter something that doesn’t drain particularly well. The best way to fix a clogged bathroom sink usually depends on what’s causing the clog. Soap residue can be resolved quite easily with some water, while hair clogs require more manual work. If neither is the case, you might need to resort to professional services. But before calling a plumber, here are some tips on how to unclog bathroom sink clogs with simple solutions.

Finding Out What’s Causing the Clog

Occasional sink clogs are almost unavoidable, as the pipes will inevitably encounter something that doesn’t drain particularly well. The best way to fix a clogged bathroom sink usually depends on what’s causing the clog. Soap residue can be resolved quite easily with some water, while hair clogs require more manual work. If neither is the case, you might need to resort to professional services. But before calling a plumber, here are some tips on how to unclog bathroom sink clogs with simple solutions.

Hair Clumps

People tend to shave or wash and dry their hair above the sink. All that hair has to go somewhere and, more often than not, some will end up down the drain no matter how vigilant you are about cleaning the sink. Hair clogs can be a real hassle to resolve, as human hair is naturally sturdy and clings to itself, other chemicals, and soap exceptionally easily. A big clog might require you to disassemble the entire drain or call a plumber.

Soap or Toothpaste Scum

Soap and toothpaste residue doesn’t always dissolve entirely in the water, and can leave scum behind. This can build up below the drain over time and clog the entire drain. Thankfully, soap scum is usually resolved by heating it up and washing it down.

Clogged P-Trap

The P-trap serves to protect the house from the drain pipes’ foul odour and catch smaller items before they’re gone forever. It’s the curved pipe that connects the drain to the wall. A clogged P-trap will need to be disassembled and cleaned out to resolve the clog. Removing the P-trap is also the best way to get access to clogs that are further down the drain line.

Damaged Pipes

Old and rusted pipes can lead to slower drains and eventually an entirely clogged sink if left unchecked. Plunging or snaking the line down will lead to only short-term relief. Unfortunately, there’s very little you can do to unclog bathroom sink clogs due to rusted pipes without calling in a plumber for a more extensive repair or pipe replacement.

Unclogging the Sink

If you have figured out what is causing the clogged bathroom sink, go directly to the recommended method. If not, you’ll probably need to use these methods one by one until the problem is fixed.

Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners often rely on producing a lot of heat to dissolve clogs. Unfortunately, they might only remove a small portion of the clog and displace it farther down the pipe, where it can become a worse problem in the future.

Removing Soap Scum

Soap scum is best removed using a simple mixture of boiling water or vinegar and baking soda. Boiling water will help if the sink is not already backed up with tepid water and the drain is only slowed down. Additionally, don’t use boiling water on PVC pipes, as it can soften certain plastics and deteriorate them quicker.
If boiling water doesn’t work, use baking soda and vinegar instead:
  1. Unscrew the drain cover and sink stopper if possible.
  2. Pour about ½ a cup of baking soda down the drain.
  3. Pour a cup of vinegar into the drain.
  4. Let the mix sit for at least 15 minutes. The vinegar and soda will cause a chemical reaction that releases heat, usually enough to melt the soap scum and residue down without causing problems to the drain itself.
  5. Rinse the mixture with hot, but not necessarily boiling, water.
  6. You can repeat the process a few times if the drain starts flowing faster.

How to Get Hair Out of the Drain

There are a few ways to unclog bathroom sink hairballs, but most revolve around manually displacing the clog. You’ll need either a long tweezer, a metal coat hanger, a zip-tool, or even a plumber’s snake in severe cases. If the sink is backed up, you might need to drain the water out beforehand. Follow these steps:
  1. Remove the drain cover and sink stopper.
  2. Use a flashlight (or your mobile phone’s flash) to look into the drain. Some hair clogs will be visible directly.
  3. Use long tweezers or curve a coat hanger into a makeshift snake to pull out the hair clog if possible.
  4. If the clog is farther down the drain, use a zip-tool or a snake to reach it.
  5. Don’t force the tool into the drain and avoid scratching the pipe.
  6. Move the tool around to reach behind the clog and pull it out.
  7. Repeat the process a few times until the sink starts working normally again.

Plunging to Unclog Bathroom Sinks

If the sink is backed up, the best way to force as much water out and the clog with it is to use the cup plunger:
  1. Seal the sink overflow. If the sink has two or more drains, cover the other sinks to make a seal.
  2. You can use some old towels to cover nearby surfaces or the floor in case of splashing.
  3. If there’s no water in the sink, fill it with some hot water.
  4. Cover the entire drain opening with a plunger to create an airtight seal.
  5. Plunge vigorously several times.
  6. Test the sink out, and repeat plunging if needed.

Removing the P-Trap

Removing the P-trap is the best way to solve a persistent clog without calling in a plumber. For this, you’ll need a wrench, some gloves, a bucket, and a bunch of old rags and towels. Follow these steps:
  1. Put the bucket under the P-trap to catch water and gunk that spills out.
  2. Lay down some towels or rags around to prevent spills.
  3. Unscrew the P-trap by hand or with a wrench or pliers if necessary.
  4. Remove the P-trap from the pipe.
  5. Wash the P-trap out with hot water, or use soda and vinegar to clear it out.
  6. Use a plumber’s snake or a twisted coat hanger to remove clogs in the pipes.
  7. Reassemble the P-trap.

Disassembling the Drain

If nothing else works, call your local plumber for professional assistance. They have longer plumber snakes that will work for harder clogs better and can disassemble the bathroom sink quickly and with less mess.

Unclog Bathroom Sink Easily

If you were able to fix your clogged bathroom sink, great! If not, call in a professional to get it checked out and fix the problem without further hassle.
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