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The Easiest Way to Unclog a Bathroom Sink Drain

I'm a part-time home handyman who has used this method to successfully to unplug many clogged bathroom sinks.

This article will break down how to use a plastic drain snake to unclog your sink.

This article will break down how to use a plastic drain snake to unclog your sink.

Your Bathroom Sink Won't Drain. What Do You Do?

Is your bathroom sink clogged and full of water? This is a very common problem, one that as a home handyman I've seen dozens of times.

If you call a plumber to unstop your vanity sink, you'll most likely pay at least the minimum service charge, which can be more than $100 in some cities. Rather than call a plumber to unclog your bathroom sink, you can easily do it yourself.

In this article, we'll explain how to do this easily and safely, at a cost of less than $10.

What Causes Bathroom Sinks to Clog?

Hair is the most common foreign object that gets stuck in bathroom sink drains, causing them to back up. Hair can take years to break down naturally and it often becomes attached to some of the small mechanical parts inside your bathroom sink, such as the mechanism that controls the stopper.

The Best Method for Unclogging Sink Drains

There are basically three ways to unclog a backed up bathroom sink.

The Plunger

One option for unclogging a bathroom sink is to use a plunger, however these are often too large to fit inside your sink.

In addition to being too big, plungers won't work effectively in vanity sinks because of the overflow outlet. Any pressure applied from the plunger will only be diverted out the overflow outlet, instead of downward toward the clog.

Aside from this problem is the sanitary issue. To avoid spreading dangerous pathogens, you shouldn't use the same plunger that you use for your toilet in the sink where you wash your face!

Chemical Drain Openers

The second method for opening backed up vanity sinks is to use a chemical drain opener, such as Draino or Drain Out. These are highly toxic and can burn skin and eyes and, if they fail, you'll have a sink full of toxic chemicals to deal with.

Even so-called "natural" drain opener products use some form of chemical reaction to open drains and they can cause severe skin and eye irritation. Don't be fooled by "green" labeling that may portray these products as benign.

If you use any type of chemical drain openers in your bathroom sink, green or otherwise, you can get yourself in a potentially dangerous situation if they fail to open the drain.

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Plastic Drain Snakes

You'll find a variety of these inexpensive plastic drain snakes online and at your local hardware store. Choose one that's at least 19" long, such as the Vastar drain snake that we used to unclog the drain that's shown in the photos accompanying this article.

Often you can buy several of these in a value pack, and simply throw away those which are too disgusting to clean and reuse. Some models feature a handle, which you can twist to help wrap the end of the tool around hair and other objects.

We prefer to use the simple flat plastic drain snakes, which have no moving parts to break and which tend to be more durable than those more complicated models.

Start by removing the sink stopper, if possible. If you can't, a plastic drain snake can still be used alongside it.

Start by removing the sink stopper, if possible. If you can't, a plastic drain snake can still be used alongside it.

How to Use a Plastic Drain Snake to Unclog a Sink

Items Needed

  • plastic drain snake
  • disposable gloves (optional—but very handy)
  • paper towels
  • plastic bag to dispose of hair and debris

Directions

  1. The first step is to remove the sink stopper, if possible. If you can't remove it, don't worry, you can still pass the drain snake down into the drain alongside it.
  2. Gently work the drain snake down into the pipe. If you feel it hit something, give it a gentle twist and retract it.
  3. Remove any hair or debris from the drain snake and repeat this process until it comes up clean. Old scissors may come in handy to cut off hair that's wound around the tool.
  4. When possible, twirl the drain snake around so that it grabs and holds any hair inside the drain.

Important Note: If this method fails, it may be time to call a plumber. Not all sink clogs occur in the upper portion of the drain. For those tougher ones, you may need expert help to avoid damaging your pipes.

Slowly twirl the drain snake around in a circle as you lower it into the pipe.

Slowly twirl the drain snake around in a circle as you lower it into the pipe.

Success! A tiny bit of tissue and some hair were causing this bathroom sink to clog.

Success! A tiny bit of tissue and some hair were causing this bathroom sink to clog.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Nolen Hart

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