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How to Clean Your Bathroom Sink Drain

plumber cleaning a bathroom sink drain

Is your bathroom's sink backing up and producing an unpleasant stench? We don't spend a lot of time thinking about our bathroom sink drain until it gives you a reason to.

An awful smell.

Black-colored gunk.

Water drains slower and slower each passing day.

All of us will encounter one or all of these at some point, but luckily there are a number of methods that can be used to fix your bathroom sink drains and keep them clean.

The more time passes without a cleaning, the more it will cost to repair or have drain cleaning service. As a result, keeping your bathroom sink clean is critical. In this article, we'll walk you through some steps you can take to clean your bathroom sink drain and help you understand when it's time to call for professional plumbing services.

Can't I Just Use Commercial Drain Cleaners?

There are countless products on the market you can find at any local hardware store that you can purchase to clean bathroom sink drains that are chemical cleaners. When choosing what products to use on your sink drain, we recommend avoiding the common mistake of trying chemical cleaners that are primarily intended for clearing clogged drains.

Many commercial drain cleaners can be effective at clearing bathroom sinks, but they also pose serious health risks when used frequently on household plumbing systems. These chemicals are usually extremely caustic and abrasive, so using them often can cause serious damage to the plumbing and even pose a hazard to your health.

Believe it or not, you may already have many household items you can use today to help breakdown stubborn clogs and clean a bathroom sink. These are environmentally friendly alternatives to going the route of purchasing commercial drain cleaners:

Salt, Vinegar, and Baking Soda

Instead, homeowners should stick with products that are safe for daily use on household drains. The best way to clean the bathroom sink drain is by using salt and baking soda mixed together, as well as vinegar and boiling hot water.

To clear out the opening of the sink, first take a cupful or two of rock salt (pickling salt) and pour it down around the drain opening, making sure it's gone down all the way into any areas where waste might have built up over time. Then cover this area up with dampened paper towels so that no more will go in. In about 10 minutes, flush the drain with hot water and you should have no trouble clearing out all blockages.

For a more thorough clean, you'll want to follow this with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Be sure to wear rubber gloves as these two ingredients can cause chemical burns if they're not used correctly! In a small container, combine about half a cup of baking soda with enough vinegar to make it into a thick paste that will stick to the bathroom drain opening.

Let the mixture stay on the drain for another ten minutes or so before pouring boiling hot water down around the edges of it. Finally, use an old toothbrush or other scrubbing brush to clean away any remaining grime that's built up inside your sink drain.

Cream of Tartar and Boiling Water

Another effective method is to pour a cup of cream of tartar into the bathroom sink drain, followed by a pot of boiling water down the drain. Cream of tartar helps break up particles in the pipes leading from your sink, thus providing an easy clean-up process that doesn't require any harsh chemicals or expensive tools.

Simply mix ¼ cup of salt, ¼ cup of baking soda, and 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar together. Pour the mixture into the bathroom sink drain. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then pour more boiling hot water through the drain.

Alka Seltzer

You can also simply drop an Alka Seltzer tablet into your sink drain before you go to bed at night, allowing it to do its work while you sleep. In the morning, all you have to do is flush with boiling water. Alka Seltzer helps break up clogs in the bathroom sink drain without chemicals or an expensive trip to the hardware store.

Tools You Can Use to Clean a Bathroom Sink Drain

If your slow drain in the bathroom sink is constantly caused by soap scum and hair clogs, there are some simple tools you can use to cleanout that pesky bathroom drain pipe.

Drain Snake

A drain snake is a device that is used to unclog drains and pipes. It's a long, flexible shaft with which you may snake and contour around pipes and bends, removing obstructions as it goes. It is quite simple to use, but it may be more pricey than other procedures because you'll need the snake itself.

Put the drain snake in place of your sink or drainage system. Gently push it as far down as you can, until you encounter a resistance. This will be your drain pipe obstruction.

Swivel the snake clockwise until the obstruction moves, then carry on feeding the drain snake into the pipe. When you encounter additional resistance, twist the handle to unblock. The blockages should come out with the snake when you remove it.


A plunger is almost certain to be found in any American household. If you don't have one, various sorts of plungers can be found in any local chain store. Cup-shaped plungers are the finest kind of plunger for a bathroom sink.

Fill up your bathroom sink about half way with water, and submerge the plunger around the sink drain. Press and pull the plunger for about 30 seconds, as this motion will create pressure to free the clog within the pipe.

As water slowly drains away, continue to fill the sink with water until and repeat the process until the drain flows freely.

Wire Hanger

A wire coat hanger can be bent into an effective clogged drain tool. Remove your sink stopper and bend the end of the hanger into a hook. Gently push the hanger down the drain until you are met with resistance (your clog).

Twist your wire hanger to catch the clog on the hook, and pull the hanger out removing the gunk. Continue to do this until you believe you're removed the entire clog, then run water to test if the drain immediately empties.

Bathroom Sink Drain Clog Prevention

Follow these guidelines to prevent a bathroom sink clog in the future:

  • Remove hair from shaving in the sink before it goes down the drain. Small hairs may not appear to be a problem, yet they can build up over time and block your sink.
  • Pop-up stoppers should be cleaned on a regular basis. Hair and debris may accumulate around a drain stopper, but this is simple to remove. It will eventually make its way down the drain if left unchecked.
  • Add a grate or screen to high-use sinks. Before they enter your drain system, these can trap hair and soap scum.
  • Finish with hot water. Hot water from the tap may help to prevent build-up.
  • Purchase a drain guard. An inexpensive drain cover will add plumbing system protection.
  • To dissolve soap scum and other tiny particles that might cause difficulties in the future, add boiling water on a regular basis.

Professional Bathroom Sink Drain Cleaning from ARS/Rescue Rooter

When you know what to do, unclogging a bathroom sink is simple. You can clear most obstructions with common home products in a few minutes. But sometimes no matter what you try you're still stuck with a drain slowly draining.

When the DIY route comes to an end, call on the national plumbing system experts at ARS/Rescue Rooter. Our certified plumbers will be able to determine if there is a more serious issue within your drain lines, and if professional drain cleaning is necessary to rid your clog once and for all.

Call our plumbers at 866-399-2885 or find your nearest ARS/Rescue Rooter location to schedule drain clearing service today!

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