I'm a stay-at-home mom and writer living in the Coal Region of Pennsylvania with my amazing and awesome three children!
How to Unclog a Sink: Dealing With Clogged Kitchen Sink Drains
I absolutely love my double kitchen sink. It is perfect in every way. I can wash dishes on one side and then place them in the drying rack on the other side, preventing the issue of wet countertops. I can have a pot or pan soaking in one sink and still have another sink ready for use—it is the perfect setup for our home. But, being that this is the first double sink I've ever had, I was unaware of one issue that drove me to the edge of insanity one night some nine years ago . . .
It's Just a Simple Clog! Right?
One night, after draining grease out of a pan, I apparently neglected to run hot water down the drain. My neglectfulness caused my drain to become clogged. Unfortunately, I did not realize this until my sink was more than halfway filled with gross, dirty water. I did not panic because I knew all I had to do was fetch my plunger and simply plunge away the clog.
I grabbed my plunger and began plunging. It appeared as though I was doing a great job. The water was quickly leaving the sink via the clogged drain. I did it! But wait...why is the other side filling up with water? Now the original clogged side was empty, but the other sink was halfway filled with the gross, dirty water.
After staring for a few moments, I began to use the plunger on the other side. Once again, the sink began to empty, but the other side began filling. After spending some time plunging the sinks back and forth, I realized this was not working, and it was time to try something else.
I was so frustrated that my plunger was failing to complete the simple task of unclogging my drain. But what else would work in a situation like this? I did not have any Drano products on hand, so I decided to use another tool.
I started thinking about what I could use to get inside of the drain. It hit me in an instant: a metal clothes hanger! I ran upstairs to my closet and grabbed a hanger. I brought it down to the kitchen and unraveled the ends to make a long metal "stick." I began pushing it into the drain to push the clog loose. After a short while, I realized it wasn't working. I realized days later why my idea did not work.
It was virtually impossible to unclog my drain with the hanger because it could not navigate through the curves of the pipes that make up the draining system. Duh! How did I possibly expect that to work? I truly do know better. But I guess I would have tried almost anything at the time. Well, back to the plunger!
I literally spent about one entire day trying to unclog my double sink drain until it finally dawned on me. I was glaring at the pipes underneath the sinks when I realized how easy the solution was to unclog the drain.
Although I technically have two sinks in my kitchen, I actually only technically have one drain. Each sink has its own drain, but the two sides share one draining pipe system. So if the drain is clogged, it prevents water from leaving either or both sinks.
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When I was plunging one side, all I was doing was pushing the water back and forth through the pipes of each sink drain because the clog was preventing the water from going into the single pipe they join into. So now that this was realized, unclogging the drain became quite simple.
All I had to do was plug one sink and then begin to use the plunger. In a few short minutes, both of my sinks were empty, and the water was once again able to flow freely down the drain. It was a rather aggravating fact of how simple this minor task was to accomplish, but what can you do? I know this will never happen again to me, and I hope I can prevent someone else from facing this stressful issue!
Things to Remember and How to Avoid Clogs in the Future
I would like to end by saying that you should not attempt to use a clothes hanger to unclog a double sink. It does not work and will not work. Also, it does not even begin to enter the pipes of the draining system due to how they turn and curve. With that being said, here is a recap of what will work.
- If you find yourself facing a clog in the drain of your double kitchen sink, remember to plug one sink before you begin plunging away at the clog. This will prevent the water from pouring up into the other sink and will allow the water to push the clog loose while you are plunging. You may have to hold the plug in the opposite sink in place because as you use the plunger, the plug will not stay tightly in place.
You can avoid clogs like mine by running hot water into the drain when disposing of grease that is left over after cooking. Other clogs can be avoided by placing a debris catcher inside of your sink's drain. These easily catch pieces of food and whatever else that may try to enter your sink's draining system to cause a clog!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Liz on August 04, 2020:
Oh my gosh, it worked im so happy! My doubke sinks have been stopped up for three days. Thank you so much!!
Jeanne on June 21, 2020:
Yipee, it worked! It was a stinky mess, but thanks to this post i didnt have to live with it long. Pasta noodles was my culprit. Thanks soooo much.
Cheree Hort on May 11, 2020:
WORKS!!! THANK YOU!
Nguajardo on December 03, 2018:
Used plug the sink and run the dishwasher...drained in a few minutes. Thank you!
Kate on October 04, 2018:
Thank you so much!! Ive been frustrated for 2 weeks trying to unclog my kitchen drain. I used Draino.. no results, Went out and purchased Zep Drain cleaner, followed directions.. back and forth after the hot water one sink to the other, still clogged..I too was about to call a plumber until I found your site.. What a life saver.
Went and got my plunger, closed off the left side of my sink and away I go. I ran the hot water while plungering and within 4 minutes Max .. it was running clear!
I'll always pass this on to others that may run into this problem.. and thank you for saving me at least 150.00 for a service call..
Lynette Betts on September 30, 2018:
Did the double sink clear, plugged one side and plunged the other. Spent half my day trying other methods before finding this post. Brilliant!!! Thank you from me and my drain.
Low Blow on September 17, 2018:
What happen! The shit got stuck! We have all been there. Sitting Waiting and nothing is happening. The pain of the unknown. When will the shit happen. Wait no more! Give it some motivation. Pickup the phone. Call that number. email@example.com Help is on the way!
JoAnne Weber on June 02, 2018:
When I did this, it caused the pipe in my laundry room to overflow, and backed up into the neighbor's house, as we are a duplex. I am stumped, and can't plunge, going to HD to get draino.
Bud on March 30, 2018:
Use a plastic dishpan and fill it with water on the side without the trap. Now use a plunger on the trap side without having to hold on to the drain stopper. Better force for a quick and easy solution.
SUSAN TORBUSH on February 21, 2018:
yes this works plenty of hot water and a cup of white vinegar with a box of baking soda monthly 2 run hose pipe full blast down stack vent with some inside to watch for over flows it works EVERYTIME anytime we have uncooperative clog.
Kathy Fennell on January 26, 2018:
Really, you should NEVER dispose of grease or cooking oil down the sink drain. Remember where this water goes after being cleaned by your local water department. I keep an empty coffee can with lid under my kitchen sink. When I have grease or oil from cooking I scrape it into the coffee can. Wha- la! Problem solved. When the can gets full, which typically takes months, I throw it in the garbage and off to the landfill it goes. Much better solution, especially for the water system in your area.
Natalie on January 13, 2018:
You saved me !! it worked
Connie on December 14, 2017:
It worked like a charm! Thank you so much...this relief is like an early Christmas gift...
Jill Kostowskie (author) from Pennsylvania on September 08, 2017:
Awesome I am glad this article is still helping people!!
James on September 08, 2017:
First search result in Google, drained first try! Thank you
Adam on May 03, 2017:
Well this method did seem to work for me but let the disposal do the work. I simply placed a plunger over the non-disposal drain and held it in place then started the disposal and ran more water into it. This seemed to create more pressure than I could get with plunger alone and the sink was draining normally in just a few moments. I'm sure this won't work in all situations but sure did in my case
Handy Dandy on April 30, 2017:
I recommend, instead of chasing grease down the drain with hot water, to put it in a coffee tin or something like that and then in the garbage after it hardens as a preventative measure.
Brenden on March 04, 2017:
Jill, you just saved my wife and I lots of cash for a plumber. She held the stopper down and I plunged! Thanks so much!
Chris on December 28, 2015:
I have double sink in kitchen that has been clogged for days. He checked the p trap first and it was clear. First used 1 1/2 -2" plumber bladder straight into the drain pipe under sink. It went in about 4' and burst the rubber! Bought strongest liquid type of draino HD sells ...let it stand over night. Still clogged. Tried several times with the liquid...after using a half gallon still clogged. Bought 25' snake. Used it directly into drain outgoing pipe in wall ...nothing. Used it on roof vent . Nothing. Used on bathroom sink and on washer drain just in case somehow /somewhere connected. Nothing works ! At wits end. Going to go rent 75' snake from HD today.....before I put dynamite in drain pipe!!! Any other suggestions? Just in case it matters this is a 1972 double wide mobile home ....maybe plumbing was different back then when built??? I don't know what else to try....a plumber would just use snake too........thank you. Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Beth on November 08, 2015:
Omg!! It worked! I just chest bumped my husband! I won! Thank you!!
DeborahG. on July 27, 2015:
Good article, however we have had the same problem off and on for almost a year now. We have tried everything! Snakes, Drano, plungers, etc. Found out the hard way that plunging isn't the way to go as we have an airflow? or overflow? pipe under the sink. I even went to our local hardware store and was told that there was nothing wrong with the piece that screws onto the pipe. There doesn't appear to be a clog in the outside trap as I have filled each toilet with toilet paper and flushed while someone was watching the flow of water and the flow is normal! We recently had our septic drained and that didn't help either. (It was due to be drained anyway!) So being a stubborn Italian, I'm still perplexed as to why this keeps happening. We are very diligent about making sure no grease, food etc. goes down the drain! So if anyone has any other ideas I would be grateful for feed back before I cave in and call a plumber! My husband is a contractor and he is equally stumped one this one as well! Thanks for at least letting me vent! Good day to all!
Dawn on May 23, 2015:
Lifesaver!!! Thank you!
Zarch on February 13, 2015:
Awesome awesome, thank you! Saved me frustration and the expense of multiple bottles of drano. The internet is awesome! Thanks
Dev on March 26, 2013:
Unfortunately, if you have an overflow pipe, this doesn't work. We've had a clogged sink for nearly 2 weeks now and nothing seems to work :(
stainless steel undermount Kitchen sinks on March 08, 2013:
There are lots of ways to unclog kitchen sink drains.
Jill Kostowskie (author) from Pennsylvania on November 30, 2012:
I am glad that I was able to help everyone unclog their sinks!! I know mine drove me crazy for three days before I figured out how to do it!!
maceo on November 30, 2012:
WOW! And I wasabout to spend 100 bucs on a plumber. This worked. I had my girlfriend hold the stopper in over my garbage disposal sink while I plunged the other side. Teamwork! It worked like a charm. Saved $$$
Jes on November 26, 2012:
This saved me!! Thank you!!!
karina polk on November 13, 2012:
Hey ..thank u so much for your info it safe my sink lol
jenubouka on September 29, 2011:
I did...I think I am going to have to some open heart surgery here.. thanks for the info. Great hub and pics!
Jill Kostowskie (author) from Pennsylvania on September 29, 2011:
jenubouka - If your drain plug is shooting out you should try holding it in place while plunging the other side. That should do the trick!
jenubouka on September 29, 2011:
As your hub was eye opening, I tried never thought of that, though I think mine is deeper, i tried plugging one side and the drain stopper shot out, funny and frustrating at the same time