Kitchen sink clogs are majorly disruptive! They’ll stop you cooking, throw a monkey wrench in doing dishes, and that’s not even mentioning hand-washing. Even a partially clogged drain can be a big annoyance.
Thankfully, clogged kitchen drains are relatively simple problems to solve. Below, we’ve put together some top tips for dealing with them thoroughly. We’ve also included some pointers to help you avoid clogs in the first place! After all, it’s a lot easier to have no clog in the first place.
Clearing a clog
Remove any standing water, before you do anything else! It’s pretty much impossible to clear a drain if you’ve got a gallon of water floating above the drain. Use a cup and scoop the water into a big pot. It’s annoying, but necessary.
You should also clear any visible food scraps or debris from the drain. Use a fork to loosen it if need be, being careful around garbage disposals. Check your garbage disposal, if you have one.When they act up, they can clog drains. Switch it on and off, and make sure it’s not the culprit before you proceed. If you have a problem with the disposal, try the baking soda and vinegar procedure below!
Once you’ve gotten any standing water and visible blockages out of the way, pick one of the following methods to clear your clog.
You’ll find that when it comes to clearing drains and doing kitchen cleaning tasks, elemental methods work really well. Harnessing heat and water can help you out a lot!
Get your biggest pot on the stovetop, with the heat all the way up. When it comes to a rolling boil, put on some oven gloves or potholders and bring it to the sink. Pour it in, aiming directly at the drain. You want to go fairly fast, but start cautiously so that you don’t get splashed and scalded!
Some people suggest adding salt before pouring the water in. We haven’t found that it makes a big difference, but add a tablespoon of plain kitchen salt to the drain if you want to go the full nine yards.
In many cases, a potful of boiling water will do the trick. However, if you have a really persistent clog, you might need to do this twice. Sometimes, you’ll find that the first potful makes a dint, and simply drains very slowly. If that’s the case, let the water go down and then just pour another potful in. If things still don’t look like they’re moving at all, it’s time to move onto one of our next methods.
We suggest following up any of the below methods with a large dose of boiling water, to flush away any remnants of debris. It doesn’t always do the trick by itself, but it’s a great way to finish the job.
Baking soda and vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar: the classic chemical reaction. You might not have thought much about these two since you made little volcanoes as a kid, but trust us–they come in handy as a grown-up! The chemical reaction disrupts clogs remarkably well, and it’s completely safe for your pipes.
To do this, you’ll need about half a cup of each. It’s better to have more than that handy, since you may need to do two doses.
Take the strainer out of your drain, clearing any physical debris you can. Then, spoon the baking soda into the drain. Push it down as far as you can. Pour the vinegar over it, and watch it work! You should stand back a ways, though, since the reaction can fizz up suddenly, sometimes as much as 6”. So, feel free to watch, but don’t look directly over it!
Follow the baking soda and vinegar with a flush of boiling water. You should wait until the reaction has stopped, and give a few moments for it all to settle down.
This also works for clogged garbage disposals. Follow the same procedure, then follow it up with boiling water.
Use a bent wire hanger
If the above methods haven’t done the trick after two tries, go and find an old wire coat hanger. Untwist it as well as you can, so you have a fairly long, flexible wire to work with. Then, fish it down the drainpipe and feel around for an obstruction. You can also do this with a store-bought drain snake, but using a hanger is a handy workaround for some people. You can use the hanger to loosen and remove debris from quite a ways under your drain.
Use a plunger
If you don’t have a wire hanger handy, or if fishing around hasn’t worked, try your plunger! This should be your last resort before visiting the hardware store, since it’s a bit icky. But plungers can be fairly effective in the kitchen sink as well as the toilet. One particular upside of using a plunger: you don’t have to remove the standing water. That’s why it’s a good last resort, after you’ve done something else and followed with boiling water, only to see it stand there. You’ll want to sanitize your sink thoroughly after doing this, though!
If you’ve tried everything above to no avail, it’s time to get a drain snake. They’re available in every hardware store. You can also find them much more cheaply online. We suggest having one or two on hand for these situations, so you don’t have to make a trip when you encounter clogs. You can use them in bathrooms as well as kitchen drains. Fish the drain snake down the drain, and maneuver it until you strike a clog. Then, twist, push and pull until you can get it free! Drain snakes are much more flexible than wire hangers, so they’re easier to feed it and maneuver in drain lines. They also have hooked edges to bring up any debris you push them through.
Disconnect the P-trap
Finally, if worst comes to worst, you’ll need to put your plumber’s hat on and take the drain assembly apart. If the clog isn’t reachable from the drain opening, disconnect the P-trap. It’s the curved (usually plastic) drain component directly under the drain opening. Take it off completely, and run some water through it in another sink. If it’s open and clear, your problem is further along. That’s likely why you couldn’t reach it from the drain opening. Go back to your plumber’s snake and fish it down the drainpipe where it’s open under the removed P trap. You should be able to get much further down, now!
It’s much easier to prevent clogs from happening in the first place than it is to remove them. So, here are some simple things you can do to keep them away.
Clogs aren’t magical. They only appear when food has gone down the drain. That’s easy to prevent! Food won’t end up in your drains if you use a proper strainer. We suggest ditching your factory strainer and getting this OXO silicone one. There are also plan metal baskets that do the same thing, but we like the OXO because the silicone “flips” the basket to empty food waste into your compost easily.
Use boiling water regularly
Boiling water is always good to run through your lines, to prevent drain flies and clogs from tiny food waste that escapes your strainer. You shouldn’t need to build this into your routine as an extra step. Just take advantage of the boiling water you already have when you make pasta. Pour it straight down the drain! Don’t strain out pasta and let the water cool without dealing with it. Same thing when you make hardboiled eggs. Make good use of that water!
Do a baking soda and vinegar treatment regularly
You can also do baking soda and vinegar if you find that clogs are a frequent occurrence. You shouldn’t do this as a substitute for using a strainer, but it certainly doesn’t hurt anything to add it to your kitchen cleaning routine. Follow it with a liberal flush of boiling water.
Enzyme maintainers like the ECOS product above are one of those fantastic natural products more people ought to know about. Enzymes naturally “eat” through food waste in your drains, and keep them from forming gradual clogs. They’re too slow to be practical for cleaning a solid clog, but they’re an excellent preventive measure to take.
We hope you’ve found this guide helpful and informative! For more of our in-depth advice and comprehensive buying guides, check out our homepage! See the best kitchen essentials here!