Picture of Unclog bathroom sink without chemicals
My sink has been draining slowly, and finally, people are coming over and we need to clean. It's all backed up, yuck.

The steps of this instructable show you how to remove biological mysteries from your sink's drainage without using caustic chemicals that cost money, are bad to breathe, less fun and whose success as an unclogging strategy has a lot of uncertainty.

My bathroom sink is simple enough that the pipes and pop-up assembly do not require any special tools to take apart and put together. The only tool I employed besides my hands was an old tooth brush.

This job takes me about 15 minutes; less time than it takes to go to the store and back to buy those old chemicals.

I read that you can keep pipes from bioaccumulating by putting down 1/2 cup baking soda, then 2 cups very hot white vinegar, wait 1 minute, bubble bubble, then follow with 2 cups very hot water.

Step 1: Prepare for cascading water and biofilms

Picture of Prepare for cascading water and biofilms


Take all your cleaners, electronics, Make magazines and paper supplies out from under the sink. 


Install nice large plastic tub. I prefer a tub to a bucket so I can get my hands in there and so I can see the wonderful microbial masses that come sliding out.
SeanC262 days ago

Thanks for the Instrucitons, You made declogging my drains a lot easier than I thought it was gonna be!

helen.ohaeri4 months ago
This was both disgustingly repulsive, and extremely effective. *barf*
wvanderoef6 months ago

This is a great article which worked fantastic to clean the pipe. Once cleaned I ordered a Bathroom sink filter. The company is just starting to sell the unit and I received what they called a early release.. Paid $15 instead of 20 for the unit. The filter is part of the stopper. You just twist the cap and the unit comes out and so does all the hair and even lost items like your diamond. Thought it was very cool and wanted to share the info as the company is just starting up.

edbro5 years ago
Step 12. Throw out toothbrush to avoid accidently using it.
lena.draine edbro7 months ago

I just got done doing this and IT WORKED AWESOME. My sink works better now then when I moved in.

lena.draine7 months ago

I just got done doing this. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! Works better then when I moved in!!!!!!!!!!!

imer.xid9 months ago

Thanks for all your help! problem solve :)

matnook5 years ago


Have you ever tried wet and dry vacuum. I have done it many times. It is the fastest and the most effective.Close all holes except he sink hole.use a powerful vacuum.Small vacuum  would not work. It need power to suck out the uuuugh!!!. No mess to fix the plumbing again
reythewiz matnook9 months ago

I like your idea1

reythewiz9 months ago

I am not sure why I didn't think of that. I just went under our sink and took the pipes off by hand. I then made a little hook from a metal hanger and pulled all the hair out of the drain. The pipes are clear to drain again....

KimmyO9 months ago

Thank you! I did this and it worked after hours of trying to figure out how to unclog my bathroom sink.

lemonie5 years ago
Baking soda and vinegar are chemicals you know...
How about just tipping carbonated water (or coke) down the sink if carbonic acid is the cleaning agent?
Hot vinegar fumes are irritating chemical-vapour, you should take precautions against exposure.

katmckee (author)  lemonie5 years ago

Thanks Lemonie. People who have respiratory problems should do this with good ventilation.  Baking soda and vinegar are often used in grade school projects to demonstrate reactions so it's relatively safe. The by-products of the reaction are water and carbon dioxide, but the vinegar is strong smelling before the reaction is complete.

Note: Do not add vinegar/baking soda if you have already poured a commercial drain cleaner down your clogged drain. Commercial drain cleaners may contains chemicals that, when mixed with vinegar, can cause noxious fumes.  

You're right there, e.g. bleach.


Most commercial drain cleaners contain sodium hydroxide (commonly known as lye). It is a powerful alkali and will react violently with the acetic acid in vinegar. Any time one uses commercial drain cleaners, the drains should be flushed thoroughly with lots and lots of cold water.

jtsherwood1 year ago

Very helpful. My efforts looked pretty much exactly like this. Drain is all drain-y now!

Your bathroom sink got clogged? or draining slowly? I have ever been? We just use amount of baking soda and white vinegar solution. they work with clogged sink well and no harm for your health. New styles of bathroom faucets sinks are offered now.
Im HAZMAT and reccommend not putting any drain cleaners down sinks or toilets. Invisible gas comes up and can cause nausea all the way to death=/ This way is excellent and it teaches you how to get to know your house haha
Darcy7775 years ago
Ok, how do you people get the spacing in your comments?! *quietly weeps*
Darcy7775 years ago
Thank you for this instructable. My comment isn't directed at this instructable. This comment is for people searching and might want not want to try this instructable until they try the wimpier way first. * If it's a bathroom sink or tub, the most likely culprit is hair. Try getting as much hair out by using a wire hanger, straightened out. Someone already mentioned that, I just wanted all the notes in one comment. Bring some white vinegar or apple cider (I have always that as I cook with it) to a simmer. I never measure but I'd suggest 1 to 1 1/2 cups of vinegar. Pour some baking soda (sorry, again I never measure) into the drain. Let’s estimate 1/2 cup. Use a wooden spoon or your hands, or whatever to get all the soda into the drain. Then pour the hot vinegar into the drain. It will foam and bubble up. Let that do it's thing for a while, let's estimate 15 minutes. While the timer is ticking, boil some water. Pour the boiling water down the drain. This may take a few applications before one will see results. It is suggested by some to do this on a regular basis as preventative maintenance. I suspect it depends on how hairy the people and how many people share these drains. Why not add it to your spring and fall cleaning schedule so at least it's being done twice a year. * Now, for kitchen sinks. The culprit is most likely grease. I've actually seen recipes that say to drain hamburger in the sink, (and then pour boiling water down the sink) for example. I suspect some people do not realize how much oil and grease they are dumping down the drain over a period of time. Buy some ubber cheap degreasing dish washing liquid. You can save the more expensive one for your dishes. Measure out 1 cup of the degreasing type dishwashing liquid and pour down the drain. Let it sit there as long as possible. Boils some water and pour that down the drain. From now on, pour any hot grease or oil into a can, I saved a tuna can for this purpose but one may need a larger can depending on their cooking habits. Once the grease has cooled, use paper towels, news paper (I get those ads once a week in the mail), or paper bags if you prefer to be a wee bit green and at least get a second use out of them, to wipe out the grease and toss. (Can you say “run on sentence.”?) Or if you eat a lot of tuna, just throw out the whole can.
arhodes185 years ago
 Great 'ible, thanks! I just did it and it worked great, it was disgusting, but it drains now :-) thanks again!
spylock5 years ago
I can do it without removing the trap,providing the trap is in good shape.
SurferGeek5 years ago

Great job!  Plunging the sink would have removed the majority of the buildup especially when using lots of hot water.

Outstanding instructable with great photos.  Well done.

Oo, nice. I wonder if this will work with a stubborn tub drain? That thing is driving me nuts. The drain can't completely close and then when you want it to drain, it takes ages.
If it's hair clogging the drain you can use a straightened clothes hanger with a hook at the end to pull the hair out.  If it's just buildup you can use a plunger.  Plug the drain, fill the tub with hot water and while covering the tub overflow with a wet towel, vigorously plunge the drain.

I work as college dormitory maintenance.  Tub, toilet and sink clogs are our #1 calls.  We've learned the easy way to unclog them without chemicals as they are expensive and no matter what the bottle says... they all damage the pipes in the long run.
Hey all, I am 3 year plumber helper and let me tell you, bathroom sinks can be nasty. however, they do sell a plastic tool that slides in under your stopper and can pull all the gunk up with it. I've seen em at home depot, and carry them on my truck. They work great. And remember that sometimes taking apart the trap can he a horrible thing, and cost you big time.
Those things are really only good for hair clogs and you can do the same thing with a bent clothes hanger. 
 Great project!

Two plumber's rules for a better life:

1)  Poop flows downhill!

2)   Don't eat with your fingers!
So the million dollar question is this: Did you use the tooth brush afterwards?

hollasch5 years ago
After step 6, where you've removed the pop-up assembly, the classic mistake is to get into cleaning the drain from above with your toothbrush and then turn on the tap to rinse it all down the drain. Some of the spooge will inevitably flow out the now-open pop-up opening and into the back of your cabinet.

Oh, and although foxfirekenzie tries to explain away this horrible mass with the Florida humidity, rest assured that your sink looks just as gnarly -- everybody's sink drain looks this gross.
katmckee (author)  hollasch5 years ago
Hi hollasch,
I use that big wide tub and I do run the water down into it to clean the stopper right then and there.
JoelDude5 years ago
No amount of money savings will make me clean something like that with a 10ft pole and bio hazard suit, specially if its not MY sink. I rather spend the 15 in Drayno. Still good instructable.
Oh boy! You have the most gnarly sink I have ever seen! Great photos and if it works for you, it will work for anyone! :)
I am off to do this to my own now. Thanks for the boost.
katmckee (author)  foxfirekenzie5 years ago
Thanks foxfirekenzie! I meant to mention that I live in Florida and the humidity levels make for astoundingly microbial-friendly habitat. Enjoy your colony removal, and let us know how it went.

Oooohhhh.....that explains a lot.  Well, I wonder what the excuse for my nasty sink is in dry Utah?  Laziness maybe? 
Thanks again for the boost.  I have meant to clean my sink for ages but just didn't want to do it because I hate that gunk!

katmckee (author)  foxfirekenzie5 years ago
Try to appreciate the gunk as  a friendly colony of little living things that are trying to make it in the world like the rest of us! Without microbes, we'd all be dead.
loricollins5 years ago
 Nice instructable!

If you do not have time to perform the steps listed above, you might try pouring a cup of bleach down the drain. Follow that up in a few minutes with warm water.
The best thing I have found is to stuff wet towels into the overflow prevention openings to seal them. and then use a plunger.  I know- it is unsanitary- that's why you keep a plunger just for the tub and sink.
scavanger5 years ago
 Nice instructable!
Your absolutely right it's easier and safer to clean out the clog manually instead of dumping a bunch of harsh chemicals down the drain.

Here are a few other things you can try before you pull your drain apart . A few Safe green drain cleaning alternatives. From ArmchairDIY.com. I intended to write an Instructable about this, but I never got around to it.