How To Unclog Your Kitchen Sink! {Or Any Other Sink}

clogged drainI have the most temperamental kitchen sink EVER! To be more precise….the DRAIN in my kitchen sink is temperamental. A DIVA of the first rank!

After having had several unpleasant experiences with backed up pipes, I am usually SOOOO careful what I put down it. No rice, no eggshells, no vegetable peels, basically NOTHING that isn’t liquid(ish).

Well, today I LOST MY HEAD and put the cut off ends of two bunches of cilantro down the sink and turned on the garbage disposal. After all….isn’t that what garbage disposals are designed to do???  I know, I know, I’d been burned before….I SHOULD have known better….but “knowing better” is not one of my strong points. :-)

Sure enough….the garbage disposal was running but no water was going down. It just sat there, a mocking, spinning, vortex of water! 

At this point I was grateful that the hubster happened to be out of the house at the time. I could already hear the lecture that was in my future in my head! So in a desperate attempt to avoid said lecture, I decided to try a “trick” I had read about involving vinegar, baking soda and a “mini volcano”!

I didn’t take pictures of the unfortunate incident, so you’ll have to take my word on it….but I did make this nifty graphic describing exactly what I did. And guess what?????  IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM!  Crisis (and lecture) averted! As a matter of fact, when the hubster reads this, it will be the first time he’s heard of it.    Hi hon! :-)))

 

how to unclog a sink

If you need more detailed instructions…there is a good description I found here at The Good Human.

 

While my kitchen sink clogging wasn’t exactly what I would have preferred happen today….at least it gave me a chance to try out the super, duper drain unclogging trick and share it with you! Aren’t you glad I “lose my head” sometimes? ;-)

 

How do you unclog your drains?

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Comments

  1. Nancy says

    I don’t have too much trouble with my drains anymore since a plumber told me to put a gallon of boiling water down them once a month. We now eat spaghetti once a month and I use my huge stockpot to boil the noodles.☺

  2. Glenna says

    I’ve had this problem with my sink also and after trying this and still having to call a plumber…he said NEVER, ever put baking soda and vinegar down the drain. The baking soda can cause the clog to be worse because it can harden if it doesn’t make it all the way out of your pipes.

    • Nova says

      That’s a common thing for them to say, not because it’s bad to do, but because they lose business. I just leave the hot tap running for a few minutes, and I’ve never had any problems. Haven’t called a plumber in almost a decade.

  3. Kathy says

    My plumber told me to put 1-2 cups of bleach down the drain once a month. It is much less expensive than liquid draino. I try to stay away from bleach as much as possible but this seems to work.

  4. says

    My plumber said the same thing as Nancy’s, never, ever put baking soda down the sink. I got this lecture after he had to come twice in a week to unclog my bathroom sink. He said a gallon of boiling water as well and also recommended a product called Thrift (I think that is the name). I just do the water and keep my finger’s crossed!

  5. Donna says

    I swear, right now my double kitchen sink is backed up. I don’t think this will fix it though. Something is going on between the 2 sinks and the garbage disposal. Sigh.

    I do love your posts!!

  6. says

    So in your infographic you pour the baking soda and vinegar down the sink and THEN put the drain stopper in (after the stuff is down the drain already?) or do you want the baking soda and vinegar in the basin? It wasn’t super clear to me. If the drain is clogged, why would you need to put the stopper in? Just curious.

    I have heard plumbers who said this was ok to do, and better for your pipes than Drano or Liquid Plumr. I just think it is a line they give. Bleach can kill the bacteria that is growing, so unless your clog is caused by growing bacteria (yuck) I don’t think bleach will unclog a drain… and it goes out to wherever the water drainage goes, probably ends up being not so environmentally friendly.

    It sounds as if there is a defective disposal… whenever any appliance is defective like that, it is best to get it repaired.

    • Ayshela says

      you put the vinegar and baking soda down the drain, if you can get the water level down far enough, and then put the stopper in so that the violently bubbly/fizzy reaction stays in the drain pipe and not splashing back up in your face.

  7. Rebecca Davis Merritt says

    In the summers we live on our houseboat with very tiny double sinks. The drain hole is about the size of a dime. The pipes are that small and are flexible hoses. If any sold particle goes down the drain, it will get plugged. Earlier this summer my spouse spent all morning taking apart the plumbing to dislodge a clog. About a month ago another clog but this time I used the vinegar, baking soda, and hot water solution which worked like a charm! I am a believer.

  8. Kim Smith says

    OMG….. How funny when I saw you post this today!!!! I had to do this EXACT same thing yesterday!!!!!! Too funny it DOES Work.. And so much less expensive than Draino ect… I will NEVER use anything but those two products to unclog the drain!!!!! And it helped with the smell of our garbage disposal as well!!!!!
    So happy you shared it though!!!
    Have a great day.. And I look forward to your daily emails!!!! :)

    ~Kim Smith

  9. mimib says

    The problem you describe is the exact problem I get from time-to-time — carrot peels, egg-shells, etc. form an unmovable blockage. It’s always when I’m prepping for a big meal, of course! So I’m excited to try this solution someday. My question, though, is how do you deal with the double bowl sink? Both sides are clogged, one has the disposer attached but the other is closer to the trap. So what side do you put the mixture down? And I imagine you then need to plug up both sides.

    • Chris says

      Mimib I have a double sink and one side does have a garbage disposal on it, so I’m going to try and help you with this. I had the worst clog ever in my drain this past April. With my garbage disposal the pipes under the sink are connected so that it all runs out into one drain which I suspect is the same way yours is. Most clogs are in the U shaped pipe, which by the way is usually very easy to take apart, but mine was not there, it was further out. What I did was put the vinegar and baking soda down the drain with out the garbage disposal and yes you will need to plug up both sinks when you do this, therewise the volcanic action will just escape out the other side. Now if you do truely have a clog between the garbage disposal and the line that goes out to the main drain, then you may be able to just unscrew the pipes under you sink and get that clog out. My garbage disposal T’s into the main line prior to the U shaped pipe and it is very easy to unscrew this and clean it out if that is where the clog is. Hope this helps.

  10. Maureen says

    Just reminding everyone not to dump grease down the sink. That may cause some backups. The other morning, my husband and I cooked a bunch of bacon and had so much grease left over! There is always something in the garbage that I can pour the grease in. Just be sure to pour after it has cooled :) Crossing my fingers I don’t have any sink issues after this!!

    Just found your site this morning through Pinterest and I’m a new fan!

    • KD says

      Instead of wasting bacon (or any other) grease, you can mix it with whole grain corn meal and millet, and hang it outside for the birds. Birds LOVE corn, millet, and grease. (sometimes I use shortening and/or peanut butter if I just feel like feeding the birds) Throw in crushed red pepper or cayenne powder to keep out squirrels.

    • shalom says

      We save bacon grease in a jar to use in other meals; we also save tallow and lard. We pour other fats into an old mayo jar or something like it and store it in the freezer until it is full then dispose of it. I was told by a plumber that eggshell shouldn’t be put down the disposal.. We have a very high powered one and it didn’t handle egg shell well. We got this disposal for $50 (regular price was probably close to $200) maybe 8 years ago when a store went out of business and installed it 3-4 years ago when our old one rusted out.

      BTW, Contrary to what we’ve been told in recent years saturated fat is very good for us (see the Weston A. Price site or renegade.com (other sites also show this)) – also when I reduced carbs, increased saturated fat and drastically cut down on polyunsaturated fat (which is very bad for us) my cholesterol went down – I take no meds. I’ve done a lot of research on this type of info to help with control of diabetes without meds. There are studies to support this, but the pharmaceutical & food companies don’t want people to know the truth. Also, cholesterol isn’t the problem claimed – among other sources I’ve seen, a heart surgon came out several months ago and said that inflammation is the problem. He said if it wasn’t for inflammation the cholesterol wouldn’t stick to the arteries. Sorry I don’t remember his name, but a search will probably turn up with his name.

  11. Anne says

    My dishwasher is not draining and I am sitting her wondering if I could put either bleach or the baking soda/vinegar in it! lol! I don’t think that would work but it is driving me crazy! one time it will work and the next 50 times it won’t! (not really 50 but even I am not so dumb that I just keep doing it but it will sometimes work). Right now there is about 3 inches of water sitting in the bottom! I have had someone over to look at it twice and he just says buy a new one but this one if not that old. I think I will try the vinegar/baking soda down my kitchen sink just to see if it will help because they are connected. but my sinks are draining well. ugh!

    • Amanda says

      Hi Elaine,

      I’m assuming that since you only use a half cup of vinegar that it would be the smaller boxes (the ones that cost less than a dollar here) like the ones you would put in your fridge or freezer to help with odors. Any more than that and it may not dissolve all the baking soda.

  12. Vicki W. says

    We have had major clogs in the kitchen sink due to a turn in the pipe just under the sink in the basement. Apparently, the dishwashing machine powder gets caked and hardens until water can’t flow. We have to snake it out when it get really clogged. This stuff is concrete hard. I have tried the baking soda and vinegar with pretty good success. It also seems to help if I pour several huge pots of boiling water down the sink once a month. My shower drain also gets clogged frequently. I first have to open it up and fish out all the hair (I have long thick hair) and then do the baking soda/vinegar/boiling hot water trick. It seems to work. As far as the comments that the baking soda itself hardens in the drain: Just pour more vinegar in the drain. It will then have the same reaction and bubble up. One more tip: Might not be a bad idea to heat up the vinegar until boiling hot before pouring down the sink to make it more effective.

    • Nikki says

      Hmm wonder if you could put a drop or two of the new miracle cleaner Dawn in that heated vinegar and help remove a little grease too. Soap is usually made from fat of some sort and it does gunk up the shower walls…hmmm I feel an experiment in my future!

  13. Rachelle says

    I tried this just last week. It was a big fail. So, I found an old bottle of Drano, poured that in and it took care of the clog. I like going the cheaper/more natural route if possible, but in this case, I’m sticking with Drano.

  14. Susan says

    I got fed up with my dishwasher always showering my dishes with grit and crud so I took out the baskets and poured in the baking soda followed by the vinegar. It took a few repeats, but I finally heard that lovely gurgle when the pipe finally unclogged. Everything’s been just fine ever since. I plan to repeat once a month.

  15. Kel says

    Word of warning– I tried this once (without even stoppering the drain) in my old apartment with cheap plastic plumbing for the sink, and the pressure blew the pipe connectors open. Huge mess. This isn’t safe for every situation.

  16. Jennifer says

    I use baking soda and vinegar as a regular upkeep of my drains. When I change the baking soda out of my fridge and freezer I keep them and use them for the drain maintenance. I also use the vinegar from cleaning my coffee maker in the drains. Then follow with hot water. Making my products do double duty. I have never had a problem with my drains in the 17 years I’ve lived here and some work better than when we first moved in.

    • Vicki W. says

      Jennifer, you think like I do! I always try to use vinegar a second or third time before pouring it down the drain. I have never had a problem with odor in the fridge, so I’ve never used the box of baking soda there. I love your idea to get further use out of it instead of just tossing it!

  17. summer says

    I just have to tell you that I love your blog! I just discovered it a week ago. Than you for sharing these great ideas. Your blog is entertaining, so fun to read. Love your sense of humor. It was fun to see you’ve been to my friends blog,Rachel Berry. I’ll have to tell her she’s famous because you mentioned her on your blog. :-)

  18. KD says

    If you are having a lot of problems with clogs or draining slow, no matter how much gunk you put in it, check to make sure you’re vent isn’t blocked. It usually come out of the top of the house, and it the cover becomes dislodged, critters like to make nests in them. Especially sparrows.

  19. says

    I just use a (clean) plunger and plunge it open. Works like a charm – I usually have a kid hold an inverted bowl over the companion drain (double kitchen sink)… cost = zero :) Then I follow with boiling water from my tea kettle.

  20. Tammy says

    like Kim, I use a plunger. I keep one under the sink just for those sinks. Just hold the sink closer over one side and plunge the other. Switch sides if necessary. I then fill the sink with water and let it drain while running the garbage disposal. Works every time and the cost is about zero.

  21. Gina says

    I just tried this and it was awesome! I have long hair which often gets clogged in my bathroom sink no matter how hard I try to keep it from going down the drain. The volcanic reaction brought the hair to the top of the drain so I was able to easily pull it out and now have a clear drain again :).

  22. says

    I use this method regularly to keep my drains clean. Any time I have baking soda or leftover vinegar (from soaking my shower head that gets stopped up due to hard water) that I want to dispose of, I use this method. At work we have the same problem and I don’t have any of the three items handy, so I do use two other things that I do have at my disposal. First, I take the plunger from the bathroom (that is never used, but I clean it before hand with dishwashing liquid anyway) and just use it on the sink drain to create some suction and then run hot water down the sink. It makes a big difference. Second, I will plug the sink and then fill it with the hottest water possible. I then use tongs to remove the stopper and the very hot water goes down the sink. By the time it’s almost all drained, you can tell that the drain is either much clearer or completely clear again.

    Shirley

  23. Suzanne says

    I grew up with a monster garbage disposal in the family sink. The plumber who installed it told us it could eat a glass pop bottle then proceeded to show us how it could. It would occasionally balk at the odd rib bone if it was just the right length to catch between the blade and the side of it. But a quick torque with a tire iron (it had that kind of nut in the middle) and all was ok. That thing ate just about anything except bubble gum, plastics and metal. So, if yours cannot eat rice nor potato peels and the water sits in the sink, you have bad plumbing. Re-routing the pipes so the angle is the right slope might just fix it once and for all.

  24. Meg says

    This method also works great in tub drains to get hair clogs moving. I also had great luck using it my bathroom on a slow drain that seemed hopeless.

    Also, just a thought to those whose plumbers who are saying not to use it. Can you really trust someone who makes their living un-clogging drains and is depending on you to pay them to do so? I’m pretty sure they’re a little biased. Just sayin’. ;-)

  25. Cynthia says

    Thank goodness I found your website. My mom stuffed the garbage disposal with rice and a coconut fruit salad and guess what happened the following day? Backup galore. We were so desperate plunging away to no avail. A good friend of our suggested using Drano but I’ve heard such bad things about it burning skin and the like. I searched online until I came across your page. I was reluctant at first, but desperate to try anything. After repeating the process three times, my drain was finally running again. No more dishwashing in the bathroom. Thanks so much!

  26. Sarah says

    I had a clogged bathtub and have tried drano which didn’t work, then I had a plumber who came out and told me he couldn’t fix it but to buy this stuff fom the hardware store that is so strong it contains major warnings and has to be hidden from the kids to be sure they don’t get into it, but still the drain ran VERY slow. I saw your suggestion and decided to give it a try on the bathtub that hasn’t worked in ages. The baking soda and vinegar did the trick! Thanks!

  27. Melissa Thompson says

    We use this all the time for our master bath tub drain (my MIL gave us the “recipe” years ago). We also use a small, screen cover to keep most of the hair from going down the drain (apparently we are hairy people). I would not use this every week, but it does get rid of nasty drain odors and does the trick on clogs. I even just pour white vinegar down the drains for odors.
    My plumber told me that it was not a problem as long a you follow up with very hot water to breakdown the baking soda.
    A small amount (1 cup or less) of bleach won’t harm your septic system either, just use it sparingly and have your septic pumped regularly (every 3-4 years).
    Hope all of this helps and if it doesn’t work the first time, let it sit longer and follow up with the hot water.

  28. says

    I see this was from last year but I have to comment anyway.
    I’ve been doing this all my life and I am so pleased to see you’ve posted this for others. As a matter of fact, I did just this very thing this morning in my bathroom sink. Now the sink is running nice and clear again, no slow draining. But I agree it works equally well in the kitchen sink. Thanks for spreading the word.
    Much safer than all those horrid chemicals.

  29. says

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  30. Michael McDaniel says

    This is not really a comment, but rather a question… the idea of getting rid of clogs is a good to know… but I want to know how to get rid of gnats that have invaded my kitchen…
    At first I thought it had something to do with them possibly coming in fruits and veggies from the store… but I am beginning to question that thought.
    We have used all kinds of things from fly swatters, bug sprays and fly strips… the latter seems to do a better job than the first two, but it does not get rid of the little pests…

    Any suggestions?
    Michael

    • Jamie says

      They are more than likely coming from either your sink or your coffee maker. They love to multiply in the kitchen drain and pouring vinegar down both sides, letting sit for about 20 minutes, & then flushing with hot water will usually do the trick. If you’re still seeing thrm, clean out your coffee maker with vinegar. ..I just went thru this, & drove myself nuts for about 2 weeks trying to find the source of the gnats-they were somewhere within my coffee maker & the cleaning with vinegar got them.

      If this still fails, check all other drains…bathroom sinks especially & do vinegar/hot water down them. They are coming from somewhere that stays moist/wet and relatively warm.

  31. says

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    If you discover a frozen water pipe, turn oon a nearby faucet so that thawed ice has
    a place to go. They use advanced sewer cameras to identify and diagnose the line for possible cracks and breaks.

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