There are many problems that people will encounter with their home plumbing, especially in areas that are used regularly; the kitchen is such a place. Often people will wash their dishes with little regard as to how the debris their washing away will affect their kitchen sink; after enough time people will be faced with the question “how to unclog a sink” since it is this type of behaviour that usually leads to a clogged sink drain. Before we talk specifically about how to unblock a clogged sink drain, it is important that we discuss exactly how this problem occurs in the first place so that you can take the steps necessary to prevent this from occurring in the future.


One of the most common ways a drain becomes blocked is due to grease; often people will take no care of simply dumping old oil or washing grease directly down their sink drain. When they do this the grease and oil eventually solidifies onto the inside of their drain. Perhaps it is the last thing that has been washed down the drain; it will sit in the trap and eventually solidify onto the inside of the drain pipe. This creates a sticky coating that sets the stage for the eventual complete blockage of the drain.


Often debris is washed down the drain, usually unintentionally, for instance when someone is doing the dishes after dinner. There may be a few scraps of food that still remaining on the plates, in the bowls, or in a pot or pan. This debris, for the most part, will wash directly down the drain but there are small bits that will stick to the inside of the drainage pipes. Add a sticky coating of grease, and the potential for debris to adhere to the drainpipe is quite great indeed.


Preventing a clogged sink is the best way to deal with this problem, after all an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is critically important that everyone who uses the drain knows what that pouring grease, oil, or washing debris down the drain is a bad idea. This advice will go only so far, there are always going to be the piece of that ends up down the drain, it is almost inevitable. Additionally, mineral and scale buildup will eventually cause blockages. So regularly cleaning your drain will be another way to prevent it from becoming blocked. This can be done using a variety of methods, using specially crafted hand-tools, specialized drain cleaners, or simply calling in a downtown plumbers to perform an annual drain cleaning.

Unblocking a Clogged Drain With A Plunger

Finally, what you’ve been waiting for, unblocking a clogged drain! This is not an incredibly difficult problem to solve, depending on how handy you are of course. First things first, try using a plunger to clear the blockage. Much like how you unclog a toilet you can use a standard flange plunger to attempt to blast the debris out of a sink drain as well. You’ll want to push the flange part inside of the bottom if you have this sort of a plunger. Simply fill up your sink with a couple of inches of water, and then start plunging. Use enough force to move the water. Give this a few tries, if all is well you’ll have a sink that drains properly in no time.

If you happen to have a double sink drain you may notice the water sloshing out of the opposite drain. Either block this using a stopper, a rag, or run the water so that it fills up in the other side of the sink a few inches before plunging.

Unblocking Your Drain With A Tool

There are many plumbing supplies that will help you to unclog your drain, some are DIY tools such as a coat hanger (not recommended), and others are specially crafted such as a Zip-It. It is highly recommended to clear the blockage using a specialized tool rather than a DIY implementation, unless you seriously know what you are getting into. It is possible to damage your sink drain using a coat hanger, so this option should be a last resort and performed at your own risk.

With the Zip-It too, simply insert the tool into your drain and pull it out repeatedly, add some twisting motion as well to ensure that any debris will be torn loose. Depending on how long you’ve let your drain accumulate debris, you may find yourself pulling some ugly things out of it (so be prepared). After you’ve done your best, run some water and if you’re lucky you’ll see the drain begin to work again.

Drain Cleaner

There are other methods of clearing a blocked sink using a special chemical cleaner, some of these products can actually be very damaging to your plumbing and generally we do not recommend the use of these products. Most of these products are incredibly harsh can cause damage by corroding the inside of the pipes. Additionally, these products are incredibly hard on the environment. There are some solutions such as baking soda and vinegar, which you may want to try, but overall the success with that method is not that great. Again, we advise against most chemical drain cleaning products.

If you have a clogged sink in your bathroom or kitchen that is not responding to your efforts, simply give us a call.

Andrew Olexiuk - Your Toronto Plumbing Expert
Andrew Olexiuk - Your Toronto Plumbing Expert
Andrew has over 20 years of experience as a plumbing contractor. He is co-owner and operator of Absolute Draining & Plumbing, a professional plumbing company serving residential & commercial properties across the Toronto, Ontario region.
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  • Greg

    Blocked pipes are a common problem these days in our houses. There are many methods to clean it. Even a professional plumber can be of great help in such cases.

    • Absolute Draining & Plumbing

      Absolutely Greg, you hit the nail on the head, blocked drain pipes are a huge problem that many homeowners face. A regular inspection is ideal but most importantly homeowners need to remember not to put everything down the drain as this is usually the cause of a clog.

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