How to Unclog a Bathroom Sink

If the sink in your bathroom is draining very slowly or not at all, you could have a real mess on your hands. When this happens to most people, they go for the chemical drain cleaner first. Sometimes this won’t work because the blockage is so bad that the cleaner can’t reach it. If you have a septic tank, using chemical solvents in your drain like this can cause big problems down the line, too, and they’re not the greenest solution, either.

So what can you do when you have a clogged sink? Well, most clogs are caused by hair, skin, and other debris built up in the pipes over time. So, because there’s usually a single clump of material stuck in the drainpipe that’s made it past the sink’s trap, you can easily fix the problem with just a couple of household items and no chemicals at all.

You won’t even have to take the pipes apart or get your hands dirty for this easy method, which is especially good if you have a pedestal sink, which needs to be at least partially disassembled to reach the hidden pipes. What will you need to unclog your bathroom sink? Go to your toolbox and get a pair of wire cutters and a pair of pliers. If you don’t have wire cutters, that’s okay; we can do this with just pliers, too. Now, go to your closet and get a wire hanger. That’s it! Now, let’s get started.

Unplugging The Sink

Can You Use a Hanger to Unclog a Sink?

If you have wire cutters, cut the hanger at one end of the straight bottom side. You can cut it at the other end or straighten it out and cut it nearer the hook for a longer reach. If you don’t have wire cutters, just use your pliers to bend the metal back and forth until it weakens and breaks.

Now, use your pliers to bend the end into a small, narrow hook at one end of the long, straight piece of metal you’ve just created. You can test if it’s narrow enough by sticking it into the holes in the sink’s trap. If it fits, it’s narrow enough. If not, bend it a little bit more. Bend the other end of the hanger with your hand into a comfortable “T” handle, and you’ll be ready to start unclogging.

Clothes Hanger

Go Fishing for Clogs

Fish the narrow hooked end of your new unclogging tool into the drainpipe through the sink’s trap. Push it down into the pipe slowly, turning and twisting it as you go. You’ll probably reach the clog near the bend in the pipe, but if it’s a little bit farther, the hanger should bend with the pipe with no problem.

If you think you’ve reached the clog, twist your hanger tool around and pull up gently. You’ll feel resistance if you’ve caught hair and other debris clogging the sink. Pull gently, and pull it back up out of the sink. You’ll notice that it’s most likely almost entirely made of hair.

You can now take a piece of toilet paper or a paper towel, pull the hair and other material off the hanger’s hook, and put it in the trash. If the sink is still draining slowly, there’s probably still some hair and other dirt and oils still stuck in the pipe. Repeat this process until you’ve broken up the clog and your sink is draining properly.

If Your Hook Doesn’t Work

If you can’t reach the clog or if you can’t get enough of it out, you may need to do some minor disassembly of your sink and a tiny bit of surgery on your drainpipe. Fortunately, even if you have a pedestal bathroom sink, removing the pedestal is usually pretty straightforward. You may need a wrench, but that should be the only tool to slide the pedestal out of the way.

If you decide to continue trying to unclog the sink at this point, you’ll need to make sure that you turn the water to the sink off and place a bucket under the drainpipe. Then, with a pipe wrench, disconnect the drainpipe and dump it into the bucket. You can now try to force your hanger through it to clear out the clog, or you can soak it in a chemical solvent solution until it clears on its own.

Don’t feel bad if you’re uncomfortable with taking your sink and your pipes apart. Plumbers spend a lot of time and effort training to handle this problem. If nothing you do seems to be working, don’t hesitate to call the professionals to help you.

My name is Julia Ritzenthaler, Founder and President of Unique Vanities, started in 2005. I started this business as an extension of our residential remodeling business, which focused on the design and build of custom cabinetry and architectural trim. I also worked as a financial advisor for 10 years at Ameriprise Financial, helping clients make sound money decisions, including budgeting for home improvement expenses. This expertise led me to start Unique Vanities, which offers a handpicked selection of high quality bathroom vanities, sinks, mirrors and more. You can find me most days sitting in Starbucks, my second office, or in my car driving my daughter across Dallas to gymnastics training.

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