Bathroom Sink Not Draining? How to Unclog It Naturally

A clogged bathroom sink is usually caused by soap scum and hair which combine to form a ball that restricts water from flowing and hence standing water in the sink.

If you or the people who lives in your house have thick hair you will notice that your bathroom sink and bathtub/shower drains will clog often. Hard water also contributes to the clogging of sinks due to formation of scum.

unclogging a bathroom sink

The good thing is that unclogging a bathroom sink is fairly easy. You will not need to buy chemical drain cleaners or even hire a plumber to do it for you.

To easily unclog a bathroom sink, start by draining the standing water then pour a cup of baking soda followed by another cup of vinegar. After about 15 minutes, dump a gallon of boiling water in the sink. Alternatively, you can remove and physically clean the P-trap where the clog is often located.

To unclog a bathroom sink naturally, a combination of vinegar and baking soda (or borax) followed by boiling water  will work wonders. If you do not want to use any products, plunge the sink and if that does not work remove the P-trap and remove the clog then install it back.

If your bathroom sink keeps getting clogged, it is a sign that too much hair is being flushed down the drain. You also don’t use enough hot water to melt gunk and flush them down to prevent hair from forming a clog with soap scum and oils.

To prevent your bathroom sink from clogging frequently, avoid flushing hair after shaving. Also, clean the sink drain with baking soda and vinegar frequently to break down any potential clog. Finishing up cleaning with hot water will help melt and flush down potential clogs down the drain.

In instances where the bathroom sink is draining slowly, you most likely have a partial clog in the drain line. You could also be dealing with a clogged plumbing vent but if that is the case you will notice the problem across all drains.

To effectively unclog a bathroom sink with standing water you will first need to drain the water. From there you can use baking soda and vinegar to break down the clog, plunge tor snake the sink. For faster results, disconnect the P-trap and physically remove the clog.

To unclog a bathroom sink with chemicals try Liquid Plumr or Drano. They are effective in breaking down clogs with minimal side effects. Strong chemicals like bleach, sulfuric or muriatic acids will break down the clogs very fast but are bad for the plumbing pipes, environment, septic systems and your health as well.

How to Unclog a Bathroom Sink Naturally


I would advise that you get in the habit of unclogging drains naturally. Chemical drains cleaners are effective and break down clogs fairly fast but they are bad for the plumbing and your health.

You should especially steer clear from chemical drain cleaners if you are on a septic system. The chemicals kill the microbes inside the septic tank resulting in expensive repairs.

The following are the best ways to unclog a bathroom sink naturally:

1. Plunge the Sink


The reason I have started with this method is not because it is the best but it is the easiest especially if you have standing in the sink.

To plunge effectively, you need to have some water in the sink. The water helps the plunger to make a good seal with the sink which is what you need to clear the clog.

You should however not have a sink full of water. The water will splash on you once you start plunging.

Here is how to properly plunge and unclog a bathroom sink:

  • Start by sealing the overflow drain. A sink has an overflow drain which is connected to the main drain to prevent the sink from overflowing. Since you want the pressure generated by the plunger to act on the clog and not escape through the overflow, seal it with a rag.
  • Place the plunger on the sink drain opening. This needs to be a flat-bottomed plunger and not those bell-plungers used to unclog toilets.
  • Start plunging gently. You need to first start by plunging gently to engage the plunger on the sink. This will also prevent the water from splashing on you.
  • When the plunger is properly engaged, plunge aggressively for a few minutes.
  • Lift off the plunger to check if the water in the sink is draining out.
  • If the water won’t drain plunge some more.
  • Your bathroom sink is unclogged if the water drains out fast.

2. Use Baking Soda, Vinegar and Boiling Water

Baking soda and vinegar are very effective in unclogging drains. Vinegar, being a weak acid reacts with the alkaline baking soda in a fizzing reaction and in the process break down the clog.

Both of these products are cheap, readily available at home and safe for the environment and pose no health risks. Baking soda and vinegar are also septic-safe.

Here is how you use baking soda and vinegar to unclog a bathroom sink:

  • Start by draining the standing water in the sink. You want the baking soda and vinegar reaction to take place inside the drain line where the clog is. Scoop the water using a cup and dump it in bucket then soak the remaining water using a sponge.

Side note: If you have a wet and dry vacuum you can use it to suck out the clog easily. Just seal the overflow drain and place the hose firmly on top of the sink drain opening.

  • Pour 1 cup of baking soda in the sink drain.
  • Slowly add another cup of vinegar. I say slowly because vinegar reacts quite fast with the baking soda and you don’t want the solution to splash on your face.
  • Wait for about 15 minutes.
  • As you wait, boil about 1 gallon of water.
  • Pour the gallon of boiling water inside the sink drain after the 15 minutes.

While the baking soda and vinegar will break down the clog, the hot water is very effective in melting it down further and flushes it down the drain.

I should also mention that the baking soda and vinegar combination is also a natural deodorizer. Apart from clearing clogs, it helps to remove smells from bathroom sinks and other drains.

3. Snake the Sink


In this case, snaking the bathroom sink does not involve the use of the usual plumber’s snake. There is a special tool called a drain hair remover or zip-it tool used to remove hair from sink and bathtub drains.

Unlike a plumber’s snake which has the potential to damage your plumbing pipes, this tool is made of plastic and will therefore not damage the pipes.

It is thin, flexible and with hooks on both sides for catching the hair that is clogging your sink drain. Here is how to use it:

  • Insert the tool from one side of the sink stopper. If you want you can remove the stopper cap first by turning it counterclockwise.
  • Push the tool up and down then pull it out all the way to see what you have caught. I can guarantee that it will come up with a gross-looking clog which will be stinky as well.
  • Put it back as many times as you want until you the sink drain is clear.
  •  Finish the job by dumping a gallon of hot water to flush out any remaining gunk.

4. Remove and Clean the P-trap

cleaning a sink P-trap

If you look underneath your bathroom sink, you will notice that part of the drain is bending to form a U-shape. That piece is called the P-trap, drain trap, sink trap or sometimes a water trap.

A P-trap is a very important part of the drain. All drains in your house have one, including the toilet and that is why there is always water at the bottom of the bowl.

A P-trap has 2 functions:

  • It is always full of water which acts as a barrier preventing sewer gases from coming up through the drains, but to do so from the plumbing vent.
  • Its shape allows it to trap potential drain clogs preventing them from clogging the drain line further away where unclogging would be more difficult.

If you are dealing with a clogged bathroom sink, I can guarantee you that most of the time the clog will be inside the P-trap.

Removing the P-trap and cleaning it is usually a sure-fire way of unclogging the sink.

This is how to unclog a bathroom sink by removing and cleaning the P-trap:

  • Clear the area under the bathroom sink. If you use that area to store stuff, keep them aside for a moment.
  • Place a small container under the P-trap. This is for draining the water already in the sink and drain line. You do not want the same spilling on your floor.
  • Disconnect the P-trap. Usually, the connections are hand-tight and you do not need to use a wrench. Only use a wrench if the connections are too tight.
  • Check the inside of the P-trap. Knock the gunk out and clean it using warm soapy water.
  • Check the drain line on the wall if it is clogged as well.  Use a garden hose or wire to pull out some of the gunk.
  • Connect the P-trap back.
  • End by flushing the drain line with hot water.

And basically that is how to unclog a bathroom sink. I hope this guide was helpful.

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