How to Unclog a Sink in Your Bathroom or Kitchen

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 this video 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.


  1. I have a clogged sink. The water takes time to go down. I am thinking it’s from hair dye. I once disposed of the remaining hair dye I was using down the bathroom sink. Could it be the hair dye I disposed of? It was 10-12-2012.

    The water just started not going down in the last week. We took the drain out and used a liquid cleaning chemical a couple times. Then we took the trap off and made sure it was clean. It was. We are thinking there must be a clog from the wall pipe out. Any suggestions, please?

  2. If you have a grease clog, you should be able to clear that up with dish soap and hot water. Try to remove as much water as possible first and then pour a half cup of dish soap in the drain. Then you want to follow that with about a half a gallon or two liters of the hot water. It may take up to 30 minutes, but this should clear things up.

  3. Thank you – this saved me from calling a plumber out, and I also think it’s really important to learn skills like this to be able to do as much as possible myself around the home.

  4. Thank you for this! I was plunging last night, and could hear air coming from the overflow hole. I also thought it would work better if I could figure out how to get the sink stopper out. This video and the advice is so helpful. We have to call maintenance to come unclog our sink every few months. I would rather do it myself. They seem to go in there, do something that takes two seconds, and leave, Then it’s clogged again pretty quickly. I want to be able to do it myself, so I don’t have to put a work order in and be home for them to come.


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