Occasionally, sinks clog, and when that happens, you don’t need to call a handyman or plumber to fix the problem. Here’s how to unclog a sink. 

Using a plunger to unclog a bathroom sink drain.
Using a plunger to unclog a bathroom sink drain.

To unclog a bathroom sink drain using a plunger:

  1. Remove the pop-up drain from the sink.
  2. Wet a rag and use it to seal up the sink overflow drain.
  3. Apply petroleum jelly to the bottom lip of the plunger.
  4. Run water in the sink.
  5. Place the plunger over the drain, and plunge up and down several times in quick succession.
  6. Run more water in the sink, and repeat as needed.

If using a plunger doesn’t clear the drain, remove the P-trap from under the sink and clean it out by hand.

Watch the video above to learn more about unclogging a sink.


Danny Lipford: Now something that can really be frustrating is a slow-draining sink or a clogged sink.

Joe Truini: Most homeowners who want to unclog a sink first reach for a plunger. But here are a few plumbing tricks that can help improve the efficiency of the plunger.

First, start by removing the pop-up drain from the sink bottom. Then take a tissue or a rag, dampen it, and use it to plug up the overflow openings on the side of the sink. That helps direct the plunging pressure directly to the clog.

Next, take a little petroleum jelly, and smear it along the bottom lip of the plunger. That’ll help form an airtight seal against the sink bottom. Next, run a little water down the drain, then plunge vigorously three or four times. Run a little more water to clear out the clog.

Danny Lipford: Now, if this method doesn’t unclog your sink, you may have to go under the sink and disconnect the P-trap, and use a plumber’s snake.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Joe Truini

Joe Truini

Radio Show Co-Host

Joe Truini is a contractor, author, and the host of “Simple Solutions” on Today’s Homeowner TV and the weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. He has worked on both large commercial projects and residential remodeling, and has written for national publications such as This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He has also written eight books, including three best-selling shed-building books. Joe lives in Connecticut with his family and enjoys hiking, traveling, and baseball in his spare time.

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