How to unblock a sink

No matter how careful we are, sinks can become blocked relatively easily. This is particularly true of kitchen sinks, as tiny pieces of food can get lodged in the pipes, and any fat accidentally flowing down the drain can solidify into what appears to be a permanent blockage.

Techniques for Unblocking Sinks

There are two core methods for unblocking sinks – using a plunger and by using cleaning products... The best technicque will depend on the distance of the blockage and the type of blockage... If you believe the blockage is due to 'natural matter' such as food / oil / fats - then using cleaning products is a good solution. If the blockage is due to a non-organic material (ie. plastic) then using a plnger is the next best solution.

Unblocking Sinks Using a Plunger

Firstly make sure to use a 'sink plunger' when you are unblocking a sink – a toilet plunger will not work. There is actually more to using a plunger than you might think, but it’s certainly not difficult. One trick is to make sure that the overflow is blocked. You can do this by placing a damp cloth over the overflow and holding it tightly. If the overflow isn’t blocked, the air you’re pushing through will simply redirect to the overflow and you won’t have enough pressure in the pipes to dislodge the object.

Next, place the plunger over the plughole and ensure there’s a tight seal (wetting the plunger will make this much easier).
Pump up and down quickly to build up air pressure in the pipes – this is the key to forcing the object out of the drains.
Repeat a few times and then check the trap for the object. If you haven’t cleaned the trap for a while, you may notice quite a bit of food matter, debris, and hair in there, so take this opportunity to give it a good clean.

How to unblock a sink using a Drain Cleaner

If you have noticed your sink emptying increasingly slowly over time, then it’s likely that the blockage has been building up each time some food is washed down there, until it finally became so big that water can no longer flow past it.

To unblock sink drains using cleaning products, initially you want to make sure you have the right products to hand. The most effective option is a store-bought sink unblocker like Domestos Sink and Pipe Unblocker (or any of the ones listed above - or similar). But in all cases you will simply need to read the label and follow any instructions and safety precautions.

Alternatively, you can try weaker combination of baking soda and white vinegar. On opposite ends of the pH scale, baking soda and vinegar create a reaction when they meet, and this is what causes natural blockages to break down. Simply place a tablespoon of baking soda in and around the plughole of the sink, and pour over enough vinegar to cause the mixture to foam dramatically. Leave for 5 minutes before running hot water down the drain until the water drains quickly from the sink – a sure fire sign that the blockage has been removed.