Fixing a clogged sink is one of the most tedious household tasks. No one wants to put their hand into water that has the soggy remains of everyone’s dinner floating around in it, but that doesn’t mean we should turn to convenient chemicals to blast things down the pipes. Here are seven all-natural, chemical-free methods of unclogging your sink.
Boiling water. This method is simple and practically free of cost, so there’s no harm in giving it a try. Just be sure that you’re dealing with metal plumbing because boiling water could melt plastic pipes.
To do this properly, first, get rid of as much standing water as you can. Then, dump a full kettle of boiling water down the drain and wait for the water to cool. If your sink is still clogged, scoop out as much water as you can and repeat the process. It may take several attempts to fully unclog it.
Saltwater mixture. This is another cheap and easy fix that goes one step more than just boiling water. Pour half a cup of salt into one gallon of water and bring it to a near-boil. Then, pour the hot mixture down the drain. After 15 minutes, flush with non-salty hot water.
Vinegar and baking soda. For this method, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by an equal amount of vinegar. The mixture creates a reaction that breaks down fats and allows greasy clogs to wash down the drain. Wait 15 minutes, then flush the drain with hot water.
If you’ve already used a chemical drain cleaner, then don’t attempt this technique. Vinegar mixed with certain chemicals can release harmful fumes.
Check the garbage disposal. The clog that you’re dealing with may actually be a jammed or malfunctioning garbage disposal. Try running the disposal for a couple of minutes with hot water running at the same time. Once that’s done, ensure that the disposal is turned off, then inspect the inside of the disposal with your hand, checking to see if there are any rogue pieces of plastic or other non-food debris that are preventing things from going down.
Clear the P-trap. If you don’t know what a P-trap is, it’s that P-shaped pipe that collects water to block sewer gas from leaking into the drain and eventually into your home. The P-trap can collect quite a lot of debris over time, so cleaning it regularly should be a priority.
To clean the P-trap, clear the area under the clogged sink so that you can place a container under the trap to catch runoff water. Then, loosen the attachments connecting the trap to the drainpipe and overflow pipe. Use a rag or a brush to scrub away any blockage from inside the trap. Once the trap has been unblocked, reassemble the piping, making sure to secure it tightly to avoid leaks. Run the faucet for 30 seconds to check your work.
Use a plunger. At times, a clogged sink may need an extra push. That’s where a plunger comes in. To use it correctly, first, stuff a wet rag in the sink overflow slot to prevent air from escaping the tube. Then place the plunger directly over the drain, ensuring there is enough water to cover the plunger cup. Lastly, move the plunger up and down (with a considerable amount of force) to clear up any blockage.
Use a plumber’s snake. This method employs the use of a plumber’s snake—a long metal cable with an uncoiled spring on one end and a handle on the other.
To use it, place a container beneath the pipes of your clogged sink to collect the runoff water. You may want to consider removing the P-trap to make snaking easier. If you choose not to do this, then insert the spring end of the snake into the train. Otherwise, put the snake into the access point on the wall.
The snake is uncoiled by rotating the handle. Once you reach the clog, move the handle in every direction to break down whatever is blocking your sink. Just be careful of scraping sounds as heavy snaking can damage the pipes. Once the snake can go through unobstructed, pull the snake out and reassemble the pipes.
A clogged drain is no fun, but neither is pouring harmful chemicals down your drain. Try these eco-friendly fixes rather than relying on commercial drain cleaners.