5 Effective Solutions for a Clogged Kitchen Sink

by Jessica Sawyer | Plumbing and Drainage

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While there are worse plumbing issues out there, there’s no doubt that dealing with a clogged kitchen sink can be a real pain. It’s the kind of household problem that usually pops up at the most inconvenient times – overflowing with greasy water as you’re prepping for a family dinner, or sputtering and refusing to drain when you’ve got a pile of dishes waiting to be done. It’s an excuse not to do those dishes at the moment, sure, but trying to unclog a kitchen sink isn’t much better!

Fortunately, you often don’t need a plumber on speed dial to solve this common household problem. With a little know-how and a can-do attitude, you can unclog your kitchen sink and get back to your routine in no time. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through five effective solutions to clear that clog and get your sink back in good working order.

Understand the Causes

Before you roll up your sleeves, it’s crucial to understand what’s causing the blockage. There are several common culprits:

  • Food Waste: From pasta to eggshells, scraping leftovers down the drain can lead to the kind of accumulation that can cause a clog.
  • Grease Buildup: Pouring hot grease down the drain might seem like a quick and easy disposal method, but as it cools, it hardens and clings to the pipe interiors, catching other debris and leading to blockage
  • Foreign Objects: Every day, small items slip down the drain, from wedding rings to that sneaky bottle cap. Over time, they can lead to clogs that are sometimes nearly impossible to dislodge without some serious effort.

Understanding these causes not only helps with prevention, but also guides your approach to unclogging your sink.

DIY Solutions for a Clogged Kitchen Sink

Ready to put in a bit of elbow grease? These homegrown solutions address the common clog with ingredients and tools you likely have on hand, making them not only practical but also wallet-friendly. 

Here are five of the most effective DIY remedies for your clogged kitchen sink:

1. Use a Plunger

That plunger doesn’t just work for your toilet – it can help you banish a kitchen sink clog too (but note that you can also buy a special sink plunger for even better results).

Step 1:

Choose the right-sized plunger; it should be as large as your sink basin. If it has a detachable head, make sure the rubber flange is flipped out to fit the drain opening best.

Step 2:

Fill the sink with enough water to cover the drain and the bottom of the plunger cup. This creates a seal necessary for effective plunging.

Step 3:

Press down and start plunging. For maximum effect, press firmly but not too hard. You’re looking to maintain suction, not create a new flood in your kitchen.

Step 4:

Repeat the up-and-down motion around 10-15 times before removing the plunger. The water should start to drain, or you’ll feel the pressure equalizing in the pipes.

2. Baking Soda and Vinegar

You may need to repeat this one a couple of times for best results, but the fizzing effect of baking soda and vinegar can be an environmentally-friendly way to dislodge any blockages.

Step 1:

Remove standing water from the sink and pour about a cup of baking soda down the drain.

Step 2:

Follow the baking soda with an equal amount of white vinegar, and plug the drain immediately. You’ll hear that fizzing sound, which means it’s working.

Step 3:

After 15 – 30 minutes, unplug the drain and flush the mixture with hot water from the tap. If the sink doesn’t drain quickly, repeat the process.

3. Check the Garbage Disposal

If you have a garbage disposal, it’s important to ensure that it’s not causing the problem. Start by turning it on to see if it breaks up the clog. If it’s not running, then:

Step 1:

Turn off the garbage disposal to ensure safety. Check for obvious blockages with a flashlight, and use pliers or tongs to remove any debris that might be lodged inside.

Step 2:

If you suspect that there’s a clog deeper in the disposal or pipe, you might need to use a key or hex wrench on the bottom of the unit to manually rotate the disposal impeller.

Step 3:

After tackling the blockage, turn on the cold water and run the disposal for a few minutes to ensure the pipes are clear.

4. Plumbing Snake

Also known as an auger, a plumbing snake can help you reach deep into your pipes to attack any blockage.

Step 1:

Insert the snake into the drain.

Step 2:

Turn the handle of the auger clockwise to extend the cable deeper into the pipes.

Step 3:

Keep feeding the plumbing snake into the drain until you feel resistance, then crank the handle to break through the clog.

Step 4:

Once it feels clear, slowly retract the snake, cleaning the line out as you go. Then, run hot water to flush the pipe.

5. Use Boiling Water

Sometimes, this good old kitchen remedy is all you need. Be careful if you have PVC pipes, though, as boiling water can damage them. 

Step 1:

Boil water in a kettle or on the stove. While it’s boiling, remove as much standing water as you can from the sink.

Step 2:

Pour the boiling water down the drain slowly and steadily.

Step 3:

If the water doesn’t start to drain, then give it a few minutes and try again.

When to Call a Professional for a Clogged Kitchen Sink

There are times when a clog goes beyond the DIY solution. So, if you’re experiencing any of the following with your kitchen sink, it’s time to call in the pros:

  • Recurring Clogs: If your sink is clogging frequently, it might be a sign of an issue deeper in your plumbing system. A professional can assess if it’s a local or more systemic issue.
  • Foul Odors: Sometimes, a clog is a sign of a larger problem, such as a broken or damaged pipe.
  • Multiple Clogs: If more than one drain in your home is clogged, it could indicate a problem like a main sewer line blockage.

While we all want to be DIY heroes, it’s important to recognize when it’s time to tap out and seek expert assistance.

How to Prevent Kitchen Sink Clogs

The best way to deal with a clogged sink is to stop it from happening in the first place. Try working these preventative measures into your routine:

  • Sink Strainer: Use a sink strainer to catch food scraps and other debris before it can make its way down the drain.
  • Grease Disposal: Avoid pouring cooking oils and fats down the drain. Instead, allow them to cool and dispose of them in the trash.
  • Regular Maintenance: Conduct a quarterly check of all your drains to ensure they’re running well. You’ll want to address any slow drainage promptly to prevent major clogs from forming.

Taking these preventative steps can save you from future clogs and the headache that comes with them.

The Bottom Line

It may be a common issue, but a clogged kitchen sink can really disrupt your daily routine. But armed with these DIY solutions, a keen eye for when it’s time to call a professional, and a few simple preventive measures, you can untangle the issue with confidence and keep your household running smoothly. Good luck!

Need a hand tackling a stubborn clog? If so, we’d be happy to help! Click here to schedule a Water Pros Plumber online, or call (480) 459-4424 today.

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