Using a Plunger on a Kitchen Sink

A blocked sink can be a frustrating and inconvenient problem to deal with, but it’s one that many of us will encounter at some point. Whether it’s due to a build-up of grease, food particles, or other debris, a blocked sink can cause water to drain slowly or not at all, leaving you with a sink full of dirty water.

Thankfully, there are a few simple methods you can try to unblock a sink without having to remove the trap below. However, in some cases, the blockage may be too severe to be removed with these methods, and you may need to take the additional step of removing the trap.

In this article, we’ll cover a few easy methods for unblocking a sink, as well as provide a step-by-step guide for removing the trap if necessary. So, if you’re dealing with a blocked sink, read on to learn how to fix it and get your drain running smoothly again.

Simple Methods for Unblocking a Sink

Before you start taking your sink apart, it’s worth trying a few simple methods to unblock it. Here are some things you can try:

Boiling Water

Boil a kettle of water and carefully pour it down the drain. The heat can help dissolve any grease or soap that may be causing the blockage. This is especially effective for a partially blocked sink.


Use a plunger (amazon link – opens in a new tab) to create suction and pressure to dislodge the blockage. Cover the drain with the plunger and pump up and down several times. Repeat as necessary until the water begins to drain normally.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Cover the drain and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then pour boiling water down the drain to flush out the blockage.

Plumbing Snake

A plumbing snake, also known as a drain auger, can be used to break up blockages and push them through the pipes. Insert the snake into the drain and turn the handle to feed it through the pipes.

When to Remove the Trap

If the simple methods listed above don’t work to unblock your sink, it’s possible that the blockage is deeper in the pipes, and you may need to remove the trap below the sink. Here are some signs that it’s time to remove the trap:

  1. Slow draining or standing water – If the sink is still not draining or draining very slowly after trying the simple methods, this could be a sign that the blockage is further down the pipes.
  2. Bad smell – A foul odour emanating from the sink can be a sign that there is a blockage somewhere in the pipes.
  3. Gurgling noises – If you hear gurgling noises coming from the sink, it could be a sign that there is a blockage that is preventing air from flowing through the pipes.

Removing the trap may seem daunting, but it’s not as difficult as it may seem. With a few basic tools and care, you can remove the trap and clear out any blockages in the pipes.

Trap Under a Sink
Trap Under a Sink

How to Remove the Trap to Unblock a Sink

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing the Trap

1 – Gather your Tools

You will need a pair of pliers, a bucket, and a pipe wrench. Make sure you have everything you need before you start.

2 – Place the Bucket

Position the bucket under the trap to catch any water that spills out.

3 – Loosen the Slip Nuts

Use the pliers to loosen the slip nuts that hold the trap in place. There may be two slip nuts – one where the trap connects to the drain pipe, and another where it connects to the sink tailpiece.

4 – Remove the Trap

Once the slip nuts are loosened, you should be able to carefully remove the trap from the drainpipe and sink tailpiece. If the trap is difficult to remove, you may need to use the pipe wrench to gently loosen it.

5 – Clean the Trap

Empty the contents of the trap into the bucket and use a pipe cleaner or brush to clean out any debris that has accumulated in the trap.

6 – Reinstall the Trap

Once the trap is clean, carefully reattach it to the drainpipe and sink. Tighten the slip nuts using the pliers, being careful not to overtighten and cause damage.

How to Prevent Sinks Becoming Blocked in the Future?

There are a few simple things that you can do to prevent your sink drain from becoming blocked in the future:

Use a Drain Cover

Placing a drain cover over your sink can help catch food scraps, hair, and other debris before they go down the drain and cause a blockage.

Dispose of Food Waste Properly

Avoid putting food scraps, grease, and oils down the drain. Instead, scrape food scraps into the trash and wipe grease and oils from pans with a paper towel before washing.

Run Hot Water

Running hot water down the drain after each use can help dissolve any grease or soap build-up that may be starting to accumulate. This should be done after every time the sink is used.

Regular Cleaning

Regularly cleaning your sink and drain with a baking soda and vinegar solution can help prevent build-up and keep your sink running smoothly.


A blocked sink can be a frustrating problem, but with the right tools and techniques, it’s possible to clear out any blockages and get your sink running smoothly again. The simple methods listed above can often be enough to fix the problem, but if you’re still having trouble, removing the trap may be necessary.

To prevent blockages in the future, be sure to use a drain cover, dispose of food waste properly, run hot water down the drain, and clean your sink and drain regularly.

Remember, if you’re not comfortable attempting to unblock your sink yourself, or if the blockage seems particularly stubborn, it’s always best to call in a plumber.

Plumbing Wizard Tips

“If using a drain snake, do not force it too hard as you could damage the pipes or the trap!”

“Be careful not to use boiling water if you have PVC pipes, as excessive heat can damage them!”

“Make sure you use a plunger specifically designed for sinks and create a tight seal over the drain before plunging!”

“If the blockage is particularly stubborn, a commercial drain cleaner may be effective. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and wear gloves and eye protection!”

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you unblock a badly blocked sink?

You can remove the trap underneath, use a plumbing snake, or call a professional plumber to unblock a badly blocked sink.

How do you unblock a sink naturally?

You can use baking soda and vinegar, a baking soda and salt mixture, or a natural enzyme cleaner to unblock a sink naturally.

Will a sink unblock itself?

A sink may occasionally unblock itself if the blockage is minor, but it is not a reliable solution. If the blockage is persistent, it will likely require intervention to clear.

How do you unblock a sink without taking it apart?

You can use a plunger, boiling water, baking soda and vinegar, or a plumbing snake to unblock a sink without taking it apart.

How do plumbers unclog sinks?

Plumbers use various methods such as plumbing snakes, hydro-jetting, or specialized chemicals to unclog sinks.

Can Coke unclog a drain?

Coke may be able to break down minor blockages in a drain due to its acidic properties, but it is not a reliable or recommended solution for unclogging drains.

Can bleach unblock a sink?

Bleach can dissolve some blockages, but it can also be harmful to pipes and the environment and is not a recommended solution for unblocking sinks.

How do you clear a slow sink drain?

You can use baking soda and vinegar, a natural enzyme cleaner, or a plunger to clear a slow sink drain. Regular maintenance and prevention methods can also help keep the drain flowing smoothly.

About Me

I’m Lee the Plumbing Wizard. I’ve been a plumber for over 40 years and have seen it all. People used to call me a magician because I could fix things so easily – hence the name Plumbing Wizard. I’m always happy to help, so if you need any advice or just someone to talk about plumbing with, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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